The right kind of fertiliser, sufficient sunlight and rain. All of these factors influence how a bed of flowers grows. Friendships are much the same; if you buy a beautiful pot of flowers, leave it in the corner, forget about it, tend to it whenever you feel the urge, inevitably it will not realise its full potential. People are the same. If you do not pay them attention, taking their presence for granted, they eventually leave. We experience so much in our lives, the good, the bad and the ugly and one thing is for certain: we need people to help get us through. Great friendships can provide the support we need – yet many of us pay little mind in nourishing them.

How many of us would pass a friendship test?

Friendships are like flowers. During the early stages it’s vital to spend time watering them to ensure they bud and bloom. Too many of us are busy, locked in our own little worlds, forgetting about our friends – yet we still expect them to be around when we need them. If we don’t spend the necessary time tending to friendships they wither and die. Even if it’s impossible to see our friends all the time, we can always catch up. This is where technology is on our side. Of course, speaking to someone is much better than texting or emailing, but it still shows you care and are thinking about them. It all matters and adds up in the end. They don’t need to be grand gestures, just little things to show you care.

Solid, nurturing friendships are integral to great health and happiness. We turn to friends when we don’t have family or they aren’t available. Sometimes friends become our second family. There are things we are comfortable sharing with friends that we wouldn’t necessarily share with our families for fear of being judged or made to feel guilty. They help boost our confidence, they support and encourage us and in return, we do the same. We laugh with them, cry with them and share our lives with them.

Keep in mind, friendships are a two way street and like any relationship, if you find you are doing all the work, it becomes a chore and resentment may bloom instead of respect.

If you find that your friends are not responding or take you for granted perhaps it’s time to find a new circle of friends. It’s hard to let go, especially when you may have gone through significant milestones together.  Some friendships run their course; people come in and out of your life for a myriad of reasons, many of them unknown to us, but like everything, they serve their purpose and then they end.

We’ve all heard, time and again: be the friend you would want to have. We all know the way we interact with others is a direct reflection of our attitude towards ourselves. If we like who we are, we tend to like other people too. Friends are usually a reflection of our inner states. If you are welcoming and warm with others, seeing them as friends and treating them as such, you will experience the same in return. If you are standoffish and keep people at arm’s length then that is what you’ll experience in return.

If you don’t value your own company, how can you expect anyone else to?

It helps to ask yourself if you are the kind of person you’d want to spend time with. Having quality friendships is incumbent on the quality of relationship you have with yourself. If you attract a certain type of friend, ask yourself if the same qualities exist within you. Most often than not, you will find they are, because everything and everyone in the external world is a mere reflection of your inner state and beliefs. Friendships like all relationships bring to light the things we need to work on.

So, how to be a good friend? Be a great friend to yourself first, learn to enjoy your own company and consciously choose to be a great friend whenever the opportunity arises in your relationships. Adhere to the old adage of ‘treat others as you wish to be treated’ and you can’t go wrong. Your friendships will not only bloom like beautiful flowers but have the stamina to endure life’s changing seasons.