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3 easy, natural ways to sustain your friendships before it’s too late


By Niamh Ennis
24th Feb 2023
3 easy, natural ways to sustain your friendships before it’s too late

Friendships sustain us and we are better because of them. Here are ways to take care of friendships that feel easy and natural.

I know that not everyone gets it when I say that each week, in order to get inspiration for what to write about, I go into the woods and walking amongst the trees, I pause, touch them and utter the words ‘whisper words of wisdom to me’. I know it might make me sound a little batty but I don’t mind that, because whatever it does, however cookie it sounds, it works for me!

So, this week with Bella my dog trotting behind me, as usual, the topic and theme of friendships kept coming into my mind. I wasn’t sure just what aspect I was going to focus in on but I knew it needed to be about friendships.

So, it was no surprise, but the worst kind of shock when I got news later that day that someone I considered a life-long friend had just died. Someone my exact age, who I had known since my teenage years, who I’d just last seen at my book launch in November, who I was so incredibly fond of, had greatly admired and often envied, who I had enjoyed many nights of mischief with and who always left me feeling lighter when we met had been taken from us. She was gone.

The cliches write themselves at times like this as to how could someone so vibrant, so inspiring, so infectious, so gorgeous be gone? I honestly have no answers. There are no answers. Our friend has died, and we are feeling that loss so deeply. The good really do die young.

Jane Fonda in a recent interview spoke on the importance of female friendships especially as we are getting older. She believes that they are so good for our health and that rather than lament the fact that we might not have as many of them as we get older, we simply need to be more intentional in our approach to making and keeping them. Her suggestion is that if we meet someone we like, that we think we would benefit from sharing a friendship with, we should pursue them.

But it was her friend actress Sally Field’s response that really resonated with me “I don’t really like people that much; I try to avoid them. But those who are intentional,” she said, gesturing towards Fonda, “you just can’t get rid of them.” Field added, “They won’t go away!”

This really made me smile because to be very honest I see more of myself in Sally Field these days. After years of pleasing everyone else, of chasing friends, partners and the love and acceptance I thought they could give me, I have finally learned to really love and accept myself. I’ll go so far as to admit that there are times when I prefer my own company to that of others, but I absolutely believe that friendships sustain us and that we are better because of them. It got me to thinking about the ways we can take care of our friendships in a way that feels easy and natural.

1) STAY CONNECTED
Yes, it’s true that we all love those friendships that don’t require a lot of time or maintenance especially when our lives are busy. However, for a relationship to stay strong we absolutely need to stay connected and share some meaningful time in each other’s company, when possible, even if this means scheduling in time in your diary to talk to them. Do it while you can. You won’t always have that chance.

2) SHOW THEM THAT YOU CARE
Small gestures can have a big impact. Let them know they are loved. Pop a reminder in your phone with the date of their birthday and send a text or a card to let them know that you’re thinking of them. If you know they’re going through a rough patch, be sure that they know you’re there for them if they need to talk, or why not cook them a meal and just leave it on their doorstep? Equally, if they’ve had some good news celebrate with them! Be their support but also their cheerleader.

3) CREATE MEMORIES
We could all be better friends, we could all do more, we could all be more available but it’s honestly not always possible. Life doesn’t always make it easy for us to be the kind of friend we wish we could be. But what you can do is know that you always did your best; that when you were together that you were present, that you made memories and you shared laughter. For me, the true test of my friendships is not how often we meet, but that they always know if they ever need me I’m here for them.

Our friend, who died, knew all this. She lived all this. The cathedral where her funeral took place was heaving with family and so many friends who had all been deeply touched by her. She shone her light wide and bright and while it may be dimmed right now, her legacy, that she so totally embodied, was to live, laugh and love. Friendship is after all another word for love. She was much loved.

Your work here is done Elaine, my beautiful friend. Thank you for letting me bathe in your light.

Niamh Ennis is Ireland’s leading Change and Transformation Coach and Author of GET UNSTUCK who through her private practice, writings, programmes, workshops and podcast has inspired, activated and helped thousands of people to make significant changes in their lives. She is an accredited Personal, Leadership & Executive Coach and the Lead Coach in the IMAGE Business Club. Her debut book “GET UNSTUCK is for anyone feeling stuck in their lives and looking for a way back. It is available now from niamhennis.com/book and selected bookshops nationwide. Follow Niamh on Instagram @1niamhennis.

Photography by Netflix.