The Art of True Friendship

Successful people don’t often feel lonely. They have lives full of friends, co-workers, peers, and vibrant communities. Nevertheless they often feel alone.

They feel alone not because they are depressed or unfulfilled but because they are unseen and unheld in the fullness of who they are.

As you grow, expand, and deepen your relationship with yourself and the world, you become aware of so many parts that you have no context for. These parts don’t fit into your public persona and often don’t fit into your private life either.

They are inconvenient, challenging, and sometimes even shameful. And so you hide these parts of yourself. You say they aren’t you, they aren’t your problem, or they aren’t relevant.

Over time, you slowly convince yourself that if you keep them hidden the world will keep loving you. Except the more of yourself you see, the more you end up hiding even in your most intimate connections. You do this because doing anything else feels impossible and terrifying.

Encountering True Friends

Until recently this is how I felt. I felt like my anger, my dark thoughts, my inner douchebag, my inner wimp, my inappropriate attractions, and my hidden agendas had to stay tucked deep inside.

I felt this way until I began to encounter what I can only describe as people who practice the art of true friendship. An art that has largely been lost, because true friendship requires someone who’s done the kind of deep work most people never attempt.

Like with many things, the best way to find a true friend is to become one. So if you want to be and find the kind of friend that inspires passion and loyalty, practice the following:

Practicing the Art of True Friendship –

Honesty – A true friend is honest, especially when it is inconvenient, scary, and vulnerable. They may not tell you everything immediately, but with time and at their own steady pace, they will open their heart to you and let you see what they see so you can uncover all that is hidden in yourself.

They know they aren’t always right, but they will risk sharing illusion so you can hear the truth. And they trust you to know the difference between the two for yourself.

Trust – A true friend trusts you with a knife to their throat. They will look you in the eye with blood trickling down their neck. They will see the part of you that wants to cut, to drain them of every drop of life. However, they will see it as one part of the many that make you breathtaking.

They won’t hold their breath, they will breathe, knowing that not running and not cutting requires the same love and commitment.

Transparency – A true friend lets you see them as they allow you to be seen. Not just in they ways you want to show others, but in every way you show up. They do this because they know that you, their true friend, will take responsibility for yourself no matter what. And they show you every part of them because they know, that you know, that they will do the same.

Service – A true friend serves expecting nothing in return, but also honors their own boundaries. They give to you with wreckless abandon and receive from you just the same. There is no brinksmanship or horse trading. They put your well-being at the center of their heart, but not at the peril of their own.

They know that caring for themselves, asking for what they want, and being willing to say yes, no, or let’s renegotiate is the cornerstone of those who serve each other deeply.

Work – A true friend holds your dreams like butterfly wings. They honor them and lift them to catch the air. But they also know your wings are anti-fragile, they get stronger with each challenge they face. They don’t keep you from the dark paths or rocky lanes that will help your dreams become strong enough to hunt their own food.

They know your dreams never take from theirs and so they never compete. Instead, they know their own dreams expand with yours like two eyes opening at the same time. And so they seek the fulfillment of your dreams, as if they were their own, while never trying to steal them for themselves.

Spirituality – A true friend does their spiritual work and lets you do yours. They hold their integrity and practice sacredly and challenge you to do the same. They may share the tools, but they trust that your eyes can see the steps ahead.

They nudge you if you stumble, and grab you if you fall, but only because they know how powerfully you can walk. They ask to go deeper in their own practice and inspire you to do the same. The push you to expand, while always remembering to honor your pace as you honor theirs.

Beauty – A true friend displays a beauty that can only be seen with the ears of the heart. They honor your beauty, admire it, cherish it, and amplify it. They make sure others can see it and extol its virtues. They never let the crumbling nature of the outside effect the pure grace of what lies within.

Agreements – A true friends holds you to your agreements, forgives you when you stumble, and trusts you more because of how you endeavor to rise. They don’t make agreements lightly, and they do their best to keep to them. They own their missteps and are always gentle with yours.

Gratitude – A true friend is grateful when you do the thing that makes them feel good, and seen, and loved. However, they are also grateful when they look over and see you smiling, even if they aren’t the one that made you smile. Even if you will never know they saw you.

Even if you don’t talk for a long time, a true friend is grateful just thinking about you as a passing thought. Just being reminded of the warm field you emanate makes them happy to have known you, even if you never meet again.

Rare – A true friend is rare, rarer than diamonds, or platinum, or black skinned unicorns. They know this as do you. And because they know how rare you are, they hold and honor you in mind, thought, and deed. But they do so without fear or desperation. They see your rarity in balance with the security they feel in themselves and the trust they have developed in the steadfastness of their own heart.

How to be a true friend: If this sounds like something you want, get to work. To have and hold a true friend, you must develop all of these traits and abilities in yourself and let me assure you, this is even harder than it sounds.

It requires true sacrifice and dedication, and the commitment that demands you to say no to a mountain of temptations and comforts. But it is worth it. A moment spent with a true friend is priceless. To be with another soul, eyes a wide as hearts, scared but safe, held and holding, is breathtaking beyond description.

If you are lucky enough to find a person who knows how to practice this, do everything you can to honor, cherish, and serve this person. Because a true friend’s value to anyone who seeks a deeper relationship with themselves and with the vibrant experience of life is incalculable.

I could never fully express the deep gratitude for the few and powerful true friends in my life. Nor can I express how proud I feel about the choices I’ve made that led me to them and earned their trust.

If you want to no longer feel alone, if you want to be emptied, and filled with deep joy and love. Become a true friend. There is nothing like it, in the entire world.