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It’s well-documented that emotional and social support influences our health and well-being in positive ways. In his bestselling book, Love and Survival: 8 Pathways to Intimacy and Health, Dr. Ornish pinpoints the critical importance of sharing life challenges with others: “Community and intimacy, in any form, help us to bear suffering. When we realize that we are not alone in our distress, the pain becomes much more bearable. We can use the pain as a catalyst to transform suffering into joy, loneliness into intimacy. Paradoxically, in the process of sharing loneliness, we experience that we are not alone.”

It’s a process of trust that feeds me, comforts me, opens me, and teaches me the opposite of loneliness.

Here is my simple formula for applying Dr. Ornish’s wisdom:

The opposite of loneliness=our friends.

How would we get through life without them? Trusted friends are the ones we rely on to tell us the truth. I’ve never liked the phrase “brutally honest” because I don’t believe honesty has to be delivered in a brutal manner—ever. Reality, of course, can feel brutal at times, but trusted friends find a way to cushion the blow for us while managing to deliver the truth wrapped in kindness and support. They stay with us before, during, and after the storms. They keep showing up as witnesses, historians, and co-celebrants. They ask us the hard questions. They remind us to appreciate our gifts, and they keep us from falling asleep at the wheel of our life’s priorities. They need us as much as we need them. They laugh at our jokes (even the old, tired ones). They fight with us, but they always call back. Trusted friends are like breathing; we need them to live.

My trusted friend Janet and I have been friends for decades. Those years have been filled with sharing mistakes, tragedies, triumphs and mostly, everyday events and experiences (that anyone else would find downright boring, but we find captivating). I most treasure the everyday stuff that we share, swap and wrestle to the ground—together. It’s a process of trust that feeds me, comforts me, opens me, and teaches me the opposite of loneliness.

What do you value most about your most trusted friendship(s)?

Contributed by

Mimi O' Connor
Group Support Specialist

Hearts linked, together we heal…

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