She was my secret keeper, the shoulder which supported me whenever I wanted to cry, my best friend. Her number is still saved on my cell with the nickname I gave her. It has been months since we talked. I still feel like running to her whenever something goes wrong but I can’t anymore.

There were way too many misunderstandings by the end of our college life. Then we had a college farewell and I guess it was the farewell of our friendship too.

I miss her so much, I want to talk to her but I don’t know how to anymore. The space between us is too wide for us to cover.

I have sleeplessness; I overthink a lot on how could I wrong her. I couldn’t go to the university we decided to go, without her. It is becoming more difficult each day. Is there someone who can understand me.

As social beings, we are wired for connection and friendship is one of the important bonds that fulfills this need for emotional connection. Friendship is one of the most crucial parts of our life and adds significant value to our wellbeing and happiness. The care and love we get through our friendships enhance our lives.

Friendship can help someone deal with mental health problems too. Friends are the biggest support system a person can have. A true friend can help in gaining confidence that the situation can get better and there are solutions to our problems.

However, like all other relationships, friendships too go through highs and lows.

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Some of the factors that lead to sourness in our friendships are:

  • Miscommunication
  • Time constraints
  • Change in priorities
  • Physical distance
  • Ego-clashes

Differences amongst friends can be over their personal values, ideas, opinions, etc. When differences get converted into conflicts, it indicates there is a strong need remaining unaddressed.

Certain needs such as the need for connection or belongingness, need to feel loved, respected and valued when not met in any friendship might lead to conflicts.

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Other reasons for trouble in friendship can be amongst the following:

  • COMPETITION:

    In today’s world we are constantly competing to be a better person, aspiring to be best in careers, jobs, achievements. This competitiveness often interferes with the genuine connections we have with our friends. Often we end up feeling competitive towards our friends which then leads to an emotional disconnect.

  • Common Romantic Inclinations:

    Another reason for conflicts in friends is when two friends happen to develop a liking towards the same person. This becomes an awkward situation and leads to jealousy amongst friends.

  • DISTANCE:

    When there is physical distance between two friends due to relocation for higher studies or job then this space can become a fertile land for increased differences due to hectic schedules, less quality time, lack of communication for days, weeks or months. This may be due to the fact that friends miss each other but are not able to connect and communicate as frequently as they used to. This might lead one to feel that the friendship is not the same or does not hold much value and importance for the other person.

  • CHANGES IN PHASES OF LIFE:

    When we move from one phase of our life to another, like going to college or starting a career, there are many adjustments to be made. There are drastic changes in our lifestyle, routine, etc. This can be overwhelming and even take a toll on friendship.

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How can therapy help in friendship

  • Loneliness or Difficulty Forming Friendship:

    It is important for us to have friends but many of us find it difficult to strike up a friendship. It could be due to emotional guardedness, past negative experiences, a new adjustment period. Therapy helps to gain an understanding of our ideas of friendship, equip ourselves with healthy communication and effective conflict resolution skills in order to build emotionally secure and healthy friendships.

  • How can you Communicate well with Your Friends:

    In any relationship, there are ebbs and flows and sometimes due to a hurtful experience or an unpleasant incident, there might be breakdowns in communication. Ruptures in communication are important to acknowledge and resolve. In order to clear any misunderstandings, it is pivotal to express your emotions no matter how difficult. Honest communication regarding expectations helps the bond to remain intact. It also ensures that there is complete acceptance and trust in the relationship.

  • When you feel Left out or Undervalued:

    We may be feeling extremely emotionally overwhelmed at the moment, our friend may not be aware of our emotions or their intensity or might not be available for support due to external factors. This might lead to a misconception that they are not invested in the friendship anymore. A therapist helps to make sense of such situations, offer support and empathy in times of crisis and help to understand the best course of action for such events.

  • Best friends making new friends:

    Often when we experience our friend forming new bonds of friendship, we tend to feel betrayed as we assume it would devalue the bond we share with them or they might just replace us with their newly found companions.

  • Conflict with a friend:

    During an argument, it is quite common that we are experiencing and expressing anger, frustration, emotional pain and disappointment to our friend(s) and sometimes end up saying hurtful things that may inflict pain and rupture the bond. A therapist helps to reflect, process and express our emotions in a healthy manner.

  • Toxic Friendship:

    Ideally, friendship is something that adds moments of happiness and joy to our life. A friend is someone we can rely on during the hard times and count on as part of the support system. However, sometimes the friendship can be a source of stress and emotional distress when it turns toxic. It can become toxic when the boundaries are not respected; our opinions and values are not considered and this happens where one person is either dominating or ridicules. Toxic friends also give criticisms in the most unhealthy manner. When our friends demean us, belittle our achievements, are jealous or unsupportive of our goals and aspirations, you have to check for the toxicity of this bond. Through therapy, you can learn to identify toxic friends and how to deal with them.

  • Friend vs. Partner:

    Our friendships may get inadvertently affected when we are in a romantic relationship. It can become challenging to invest an equal amount of time, effort and energy in all relationships especially when we just found a partner. It becomes even more difficult if there is any friction between partner and friends causing us to choose between them. Through therapy, we can understand how to navigate such situations with communication, appropriate boundary setting and allocation of our time and emotional energy in an effective manner.

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Structure of the Sessions

  • HISTORY TAKING:

    In initial sessions, the focus is on the concern and its impact. In-depth history about the nature, duration, and quality of the friendship, what changed and how differences started causing conflicts are taken.

  • DEALING WITH EMOTIONAL CHALLENGES:

    Moving forward the counselor explores how you are dealing with the concern, how it is affecting you as a person, what are the emotional consequences of the concern. Differences and conflicts can cause extreme sadness, mood disturbances and loss of interest. Therapy sessions aim to address these emotional challenges so as to counteract day to day disruptions.

  • BUILDING AWARENESS:

    In a therapy session, psychoeducation and building awareness is an important part. A therapist helps to delve deeper into ideas of friendship, expectations, attachment style, boundaries and met & unmet emotional needs. Aim is to make you identify those thought patterns, behaviors and belief systems that might be contributing to the present concern.

  • FOLLOW UP:

    Follow-ups are aimed to keep a progress check on how each session has been helping in dealing with current challenges and to work on any potential setbacks.

    Structure of the Sessions

    At times, it is natural for us to doubt our abilities and feel inferior in comparison to others. The striving for superiority causes inferiority as well as helps in overcoming it. When the feeling of inferiority occurs too often and becomes persistent, then it may lead the person to develop an inferiority complex.

  • What is Inferiority complex?:

    Inferiority complex makes an individual feel worthless and instills within a sense of inadequacy. The person begins to feel that he/she lacks certain qualities and is beneath others with respect to those qualities. Due to an inferiority complex, the normal feelings of incompetence get exaggerated, and the individual feels that it is impossible to achieve goals and/or have certain accomplishments. If the inferiority complex becomes too overwhelming and lasts for a longer period of time, there is a possibility that it may engulf the person and start impacting their work life and relationships. In order to counteract the feelings of inferiority, some individuals may put on a mask of superiority.

  • Signs of Inferiority complex: Friendships
  • Comparison:

    It's human nature to compare yourself to those around you. That being said, there are healthy and unhealthy ways through which it may impact us. Comparison can help if it inspires us to become a better version of ourselves and invest in our personal growth and development. It can lead to our downfall if we constantly focus on our flaws and magnify other’s strengths.

  • High sensitivity to criticism:

    People with an inferiority complex are highly sensitive to what others think and often take offense at a harmless comment or non-verbal cues. Any kind of critique will stay with them for a long time. They are quick to assume that others are perceiving them in a negative light.

  • Always judging and finding faults in others:

    People who criticize others have the highest criticism reserved for themselves. When you have an inferiority complex, you may have a habit of finding faults in other people. For instance, you may have a friend who you feel is more successful than you. If you have feelings of inferiority, you might tell yourself that their career path isn't as great as they make it out to be rather than feeling happy for them.

  • Overcompensation:

    One of the most famous defense mechanisms people use to hide their inferiority feelings is to act superior. Not only will those people act as if they are superior to others, but they will also devalue anybody who doesn't treat them as if they were superior. It is a form of self-protection for their vulnerable, fragile ego.

  • Excessive anxiety:

    Without being aware, the subconscious mind of the person becomes anxious whenever he or she encounters social situations. By doing so the subconscious mind makes sure that the person will avoid those who make them feel inferior. So, fear of public speaking, fear of approaching the opposite sex and stage fright are some of the common manifestations of inferiority complex.

  • Quick to give up:

    People that give up quickly over the smallest infractions are typically those with inferiority complexes. They want to be the one to leave for “ego's sake” and usually expect negative results with anyone they meet. For instance, if a date cancels for a good reason, they refuse to set up another date assuming they're probably not attractive enough.

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What can you expect from counseling sessions?

  • A therapist can bring more self-awareness and acceptance.
  • Help in making the individual recognize one's strengths and weaknesses and work accordingly to empower the individual in overcoming the feelings and achieve their goals.
  • A therapist can collaboratively work on healing old emotional wounds the individual may have experienced as a child which is deteriorating their self-confidence.
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Counseling Structure

The number of sessions required in each stage of the therapy is subjective to the client and their needs. The counseling structure is divided into stages that may overlap, whereas some sessions may go back and forth depending on the triggers and intensity of the concern and healing time. The aim of the therapy is always to empower individuals and equip them with tools to handle and manage any future challenges. There is no fixed course of therapy, each person has their own pace of healing and learning in the process of therapy. However, a general approach of counseling in dealing with the inferiority complex is as given below.

Friendship

Rapport formation

In the first counseling session, the counselor will provide a safe and non-judgmental space to share personal experiences. The counselor will undertake the essential details about you and a therapeutic relationship will be established.

Exploring the concern

The counselor will explore the concern by asking and understanding the root cause of the challenges including childhood experiences, negative incidents, exposure to belittling, demeaning behavior by others which might be leading to current beliefs about self.

Work on Overcoming Inferiority Complex

The counselor helps the client to challenge the inner critic by using a blend of techniques and let the individual change his or her negative perceptions towards their own self. Compassionate, positive self-talk is developed in this stage.

Follow-Ups

The follow-ups are required to see how the individual is doing post-therapy. It allows us to keep a tab on the progress and prevent relapse in any difficult situation.

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