Combating Fears of Creating New Friendship

Our conversation with Shasta Nelson on creating meaningful connections and maximizing our current friendships was unbelievably insightful. Friendships are so often taken for granted that we rarely think about what it takes to create those bonds. It’s not until we are faced with the situation where we feel we are missing those friendships that we reflect on how we connect with others.

So what do we do when we want to create new friendship? How do you make friends? We can easily envision in our minds what a friendship could be, but we typically skip over how we initiate those relationships. That’s because finding the courage to approach somebody is a lot harder in reality than what we envision when we set that goal.

The truth is, we oftentimes hold ourselves back because we doubt our ability to initiate a new relationship.  We go down a rabbit hole of negative self-talk that prevents us from even trying to connect with others:

“I’m going to sound awkward and seem weird.”

“She’s going to think I’m a loser who doesn’t have any friends.”

“She probably doesn’t even like me.”

We’ve previously talked about the detrimental ways negative self-talk affects our confidence and mental health, but we sometimes fail to realize it also holds us back from seizing incredible opportunities. Luckily, there are some ways we can combat this negative self-talk so that we can create new friendships.

Catch it when it happens

Instead of spiraling down the rabbit hole, your first reaction to these thoughts should be “gottcha!” Catch it when it happens and address it… with compassion. Recognize the thought for what it is, but don’t beat yourself up for having the fear or anxiety.

“Whoops. That’s just the fear talking.”

“Actually, that’s not really how I think of myself.”

Being able to point out these negative thoughts when they happen requires us to truly reflect on ourselves. Honestly, mastering the skill of self-reflection takes time and practice; it may not come easily right away. The mindful practice of self-reflection over time will make those negative thoughts occur less and less.

Play a little game…

Communication scholars have outlined a little technique called “cognitive restructuring” that is a proven method for retraining our brains.

If you catch yourself engaging in negative self-talk, play this game: Take the negative statement and walk through a rationalization, focusing on positivity.

“I’m going to sound awkward and seem weird.”

No, you’re not. You may feel awkward because you are making yourself vulnerable to someone new. Just because you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean you seem uncomfortable. The simple fact that you are thinking about putting yourself out there means you have confidence and purpose. That’s the type of drive and go-getter attitude everyone strives for.

“She’s going to think I’m a loser who doesn’t have any friends.

Everyone is looking for meaningful friendships. You’re not a loser for wanting more of those. Actually taking action towards that goal shows you are motivated and willing to take initiative. Aren’t those the qualities we see in the most successful people?

“She probably won’t even like me.”

How can you make that assumption? You can never know what others think without engaging in a conversation. The best you can do is open up and share all of the incredible parts of your personality. If you like you, who’s to say others won’t too?

The purpose of this exercise is to challenge you to take a logical perspective on your fear-based emotions. Taking a step back and spending some time to truly process the thought provides a tremendous amount of clarity.

Build your toolbox

If you are still feeling nervous about putting yourself out there, the best step you can take is to learn more and talk to others. Shasta Nelson’s book Friendships Don’t Just Happen is an incredible resource that gives you her expert methods on how to go about creating new friendships. She also connects women who are seeking these meaningful relationships with one another on her website GirlFriendCircles.com.

Use other tools that are already accessible to you to connect with others. Social media groups are a great way to engage in conversations with people who share similar values and interests with you. Plus, interacting online can be a great stepping stone for building friendships if you are nervous about approaching someone new or don’t have access to a network of people to meet. Reaching out to other listeners on the Wine & Shiners Facebook group is a great starting point!

Have you recently connected with someone new and found a budding friendship? We would love to hear your experience and how you connected! Comment below and share your story!

Shine on,
Gretchen