Accepting who your friend really is will help you be a selfless friend.

How to Not Be a Selfish Friend

by Kristen Moutria

If you have someone in your life who uplifts and encourages you when you are feeling down, you most likely want to be the best friend possible for her. Unfortunately, many friendships are spoiled by selfishness because both people involved want to keep the attention on themselves, instead of practicing selfless acts for their friend. Sheldon Cohen, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Carnegie Mellon University, states that "strong social support helps people cope with stress." If you want to be supportive and lift your friend's burdens, learn how to not be a selfish friend by practicing empathy, adopting a healthy sense of self, being accepting, and being reliable.

1. Practice Empathy

Empathizing is one of the best ways you can be a selfless friend. According to Emuna Braverman, clinical psychologist and author of "A Diamond for Your Daughter: A Parent’s Guide to Navigating Shidduchim Effectively," empathy is crucial to friendship. "Rare and precious is the friend who experiences your pain like his or her own" and demonstrates genuine happiness when something good happens in your life, Braverman elaborates. Many people are focused on keeping the topic of conversation directed on them, but by delighting in your friend's good fortune and showing sadness when she encounters a challenge in life, you are not being a selfish friend.

2. Adopt a Healthy Sense of Self

It may seem odd that focusing on yourself is a way to be a selfless friend, but the truth is that you must have a good sense of self-esteem in order to focus on your friend's issues and uplift him when he is going through a difficult time. The Mayo Clinic suggests adopting a healthy and realistic self-image in order to nurture your friendships. Vanity or constant criticism of self may serve as a turnoff to your friends, so instead, practice being positive and giving. Your healthy sense of self will give you the confidence you need to tackle your friend's problems and encourage him if you need to.

3. Be Accepting

Be accepting of what makes your friend who she is in order to be selfless in your relationship. Barton Goldsmith, psychotherapist and author of "100 Ways to Boost Your Self-Confidence," reports in a 2012 "Psychology Today" article that best friends are accepting of one another's flaws and do not expect perfection. Be understanding of your friend when she is not at her best, instead of criticizing her. Be there for her when she is having a bad day, instead of expecting her to always be in a good mood.

4. Be Reliable

Being reliable will show your friend that you care for him and will go out of your way for him, even if it means making a sacrifice. Goldsmith reports that the little things, such as being willing to give your friend a ride to the airport, demonstrate true friendship. Your friend should know he can call you at just about any time, and you will be there to help him with whatever situation he finds himself in.

About the Author

Kristen Moutria has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Evangel University. She is currently pursuing her Master of Arts in education from the University of Nebraska.

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