Best Friend Material

Friends are fair weather friends, but best friends are all weather friends. Best friends carry the warrior spirit and show their true color’s in the fight and storms. The great thing is we can all develop ourselves to being what I like to call, “best friend material.’

In nothing are we more fixed minded than in our creativity with relationship rigidity. We erroneously believe that our relationships are what they are, or ‘it is what it is.’ Nothing could be further from the truth. Just look at divorce statistics. How is it that here in America most, if not all couples marry someone they choose but then later fall out of love? Why do arrange marriages have better long-term marital satisfaction than do choice marriages? It is because we believe that people and their ability to connect are fixed and cannot change.

True, some are just better at relationships than others. But our ability to be likable is plastic. We can definitely have a more delicious personality, someone that other enjoy being around. Your personality will generally be the same, but we can spice it up so that it seemingly tastes better and is more attractive. Your likability, or lack of, does not mean it has to stay that way. We can and should all improve in our ability to connect with others. Some people taste boring like emotional cardboard while other personalities are delicious and fun to be around like apple pie or chocolate milkshakes. Similarly, just like we can all do things to be more physically attractive like regular exercise, good hygiene, and good-looking clothes, the eye candy for our personalities can also improve to taste more delicious.

I would like to offer two suggestion. First, one of the greatest things we can do for our personalities to taste better is developing a ‘growth mindset.’ I recommend reading or listening on audible Ph.D. Carol S. Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. A growth mindset is something we can all cultivate. A growth mindset looks at situations as opportunities rather than problems. A fixed mindset, opposite of a growth mindset does not consider problems differently. This concept is larger than I will explain but we all have room to improve and see opportunities rather than problems. How wonderful our ability to learn! No other animal is as diverse. We can rock climb, swim, run on land, and fall from the sky. If we can do all this, we are also capable of so much. 

The second way to improve our relationship taste factor is improving our ability to distinguish between process and content. Distinguishing between process and content is the ability to see beyond and between what is being discussed. Process is the intention beneath the words or content. All people really just want to be loved. Knowing this, a process-oriented mindset considers these questions, ‘what is this person trying to say?’ ‘What is the intent behind their words?’ ‘What do they need from me?’ ‘How can I help?’ ‘What can I do to help them feel loved?’
The likability of a therapist is a big part of therapy’s effectiveness. Research found four common factors of change. The biggest determining factor in change is the client’s motivation for change and second, is the relationship the client has with their therapist i.e. ‘delicious factor.’ See the research paper “Common Factors” for more information. Gaining a fresh perspective is worth the investment. Want to receiving one on one attention and build your relationships with greater connection? Reach out and schedule an appointment with me today at (801) 810-8309 or email me directly at ryan@holladayfamilies.com.

Written by Ryan C. Smith, LAMFT, Therapist, Holladay Center for Couples and Families

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