The gift of long term friendship
January 24, 2014THE GIFT OF LONG TERM FRIENDSHIP
Today is my 58th birthday, so I have been reflecting on the aging process and what it means to me. I am a psychologist, life coach and psychotherapist, and in my role as a professional I have studied the changes that occur as we age. Despite widespread anxiety in our culture about potential losses that people associate with aging, there are so many positive things can only happen with the advent of maturity. Notwithstanding the biases in our culture about getting older, the benefits of aging are being increasingly documented in research studies. So, here is the conclusion I have reached about aging: there are many gifts that we can only receive from getting older, and it’s time to recognize and celebrate them.
Today I want to share some insights gleaned from the conversation I had with a dear friend who called to wish me a happy birthday. We have been close friends for over 40 years, and we were remarking on the longevity of our connection, and what it has meant in our lives. After dispensing with the obligatory tongue-in-cheek remarks about both of us reaching age 29 once again, we shifted to a more serious conversation about some of the positive changes we have noticed as we’ve grown older, especially as they relate to the issue of friendship.
There’s something uniquely special about close friendships that have lasted decades. The depth of connection and knowledge that comes from knowing someone well for so long is a precious gift to those lucky enough to have such enduring friendships. In those friendships we bring out the best in one another, because we have knowledge of what is truly special and beautiful about the other person. A great, long-term friendship can be a source of remarkable support, strength, insight and understanding. By drawing upon your memory of your friend, you tap into a neural network of established brain patterns that include prior experiences of love, support, and connection with that friend, which is why thinking of your friend can bring forth some of those experiences and feelings again. Simply put, thoughts of your friend become a powerful source of internal strength that is readily accessible. So, here’s to my friend, and to adding another year to the breathtaking tapestry of love, connection and emotional support that comes from close, long-term friendship
Audrey Berger, Ph.D. has been a life coach, psychologist and psychotherapist for 32 years. In her life coaching practice she specializes in mid- and later life transitions such as retirement, empty nest, midlife transition, positive aging in general, and creating a new life after divorce/loss. She also works with an array of other life issues and goals, including helping couples to create the relationship they want. You can find more information about her life coaching services at www.turningpointlifecoaching.