Have you ever felt like it was only yesterday that you were running around with your old friends from childhood? Or that you’ve just closed your eyes for a moment, and now your siblings have their own families? When is the last time you saw your parents? Sometimes, we get so focused on our plans and dreams that we don’t realize that we’ve let meaningful relationships slip through our fingers.
As you become an adult, learn to be independent. It’s normal to let go of some people and lose relationships that once felt like the most essential things in the world. As time passed, not only did you grow up, but you grew apart. In letting go of some people, we can risk letting go of our personal development.
So, can people from our past help better our future? Read on to find out three ways in which reconnecting with old friends and family helps you with inner growth.
What Is Inner Growth, And Why Is It Important to Connect with Old Friends?
Inner growth is most easily described as the process through which you get to know, understand and express all aspects of your humanity and experiences. It can be perceived as personal development, the personal change in behaviors, thoughts, and feelings. It’s the journey you embark on to develop who you are on the inside by letting go of meaningless self-criticism, being kinder to yourself, and strengthening your ethical framework.
But why is it essential in someone’s life? Studies prove that inner growth and personal development are the bedrock of one’s way of being, thus being crucial for achieving happiness. In addition to that, self-improvement tends to make you kinder and less worried, thus helping you be in a safer space of mind from which you can learn to treat others better. Therefore, bettering yourself doesn’t only benefit you but also the people around you.
We will have dozens of friends throughout our lives, and we will drift apart from most of them. This is usually just an ordinary sign of growing up. According to Lauren Millman, a marriage and family counselor, as people grow, their views and interests change, thus making relationships less stable as people begin to have less and less in common.
But while this is true in some cases, sometimes the fact is that people don’t always have an actual reason for drifting apart. Sometimes we forget to put enough effort into a meaningful relationship because we’re too busy with our problems, and, before we know it, we’ve lost sight of what’s important: people and socialization.
The good news is that no matter how estranged you have become from a particular family member or friend, you can always do something to fix that.
Reestablishing a connection is easy. Indeed, the best way to start reconnecting is to reach out to those people. Don’t be passive, don’t expect others always to make an effort. You have to be willing to take that first step. Apologize for not keeping in touch and try to make plans to meet up and have an actual conversation. Not only that, but your oldest friends and your family are the ones most likely to be forgiving, empathize, and give your relationship a new chance.
Five Ways Rekindling Relationships Can Help You With Inner Growth
But you might be wondering, why would I ever want to reconnect? What’s in it for me? And how do old friends fuel inner growth?
1. Reconnecting With Old Friends Triggers Nostalgia
Imagine you’re walking down the street on an average day, and you bump into your oldest friend that you have not seen in years. Or that you’re at a family reunion, and you see the person who was once your favorite cousin. What would be the feeling those meetings evoked? Well, nostalgia, of course.
We all like to feel a little bit of nostalgia. It reminds us of simpler times, happier moments. But can nostalgia be a feeling attributed to inner growth?
Nostalgia is not about retreating into the past but rather exploring the contents of our mind and seeing how our “inner time capsule” can propel us into the future with a sense of hope.
Studies Support This Line of Thinking:
Studies confirm that, when measured as an individual difference, the people prone to nostalgia report greater meaning in life than others. Nostalgia has also been found to increase self-esteem, optimism, and self-connectedness.
Interestingly, research has shown that when people experience negative states, such as loneliness or meaninglessness, they use nostalgia to regulate distress.
According to Dr. Clay Routledge, Social Psychologist and Associate Professor of Psychology at North Dakota State University, nostalgia motivates people to cultivate and maintain meaningful relationships and pursue important life goals. Moreover, as people get older, it can help them feel more youthful and energetic.
All the positive factors correlated to nostalgia are integral to inner growth. The possibility of exploring the past again, meditating, considering how you were compared to how you are now, the feeling of hope and meaning that can be extrapolated from nostalgia, can be used for self-development. Moreover, old friends and family will always remind you of the person you once were and will give you their honest opinion on the change you’ve been through, allowing you to better judge who you have become.
When you choose to embark on an exploration of the past, you allow yourself to realize who you’ve been, what you’ve been through, who you are now, and who you want to be. And what better way to evoke nostalgia than to invite an old friend out for coffee and reminisce on simpler times?
Who was there with you when you broke up with your first love? Or when you got into the school of your dreams? Whether it was your parents, your best friend, whoever it might have been, they are people who have been a shoulder for you to cry on in times of need and also the first ones to jump with joy at your achievements. Over time, the people who used to know you best have become strangers. Wouldn’t it be better to change that?
For humans, it is vital to have a support system, a network of family and friends that you can turn to in times of need. Whether you’re looking for emotional, informational, or practical support, reconnecting with people can get you precisely what you are looking for. You will get to socialize with people who know different parts of who you are and what you have been through. Thus each being able to aid you in different ways. Combined, all that support can make for a comprehensive system that can keep you from going to dark places when facing a problem.
In one study, it was found that middle-aged men with a support system were likely to live longer than those who lacked this support. This supports the idea that aid is integral to our vitality and well-being.
The Studies That Prove This:
Support systems bring positive influence. Your present relationships will be catered to present you. Thus, they will not object to any of your flaws because they are used to them or don’t see them as a flaw. If you are an avid drinker, you most likely have friends who also drink a lot. While surrounded by people who think like you, you will never have a strong checks-and-balances mechanism. By reconnecting, you will get new perspectives on life. So you will not be able to stay stuck in your echo chamber.
Studies suggest that reconnecting with people leads to lower rates of substance abuse, depression, or suicide. Moreover, reviving old relationships makes you better cope with trauma. Think divorce, loss of a loved one, mental health issues. And reconnecting only helps because it allows more people who know you and care about you to be by your side.
A robust support system is integral to inner growth. You won’t be able to better yourself if you’re stuck holding the weight of the world on your shoulders. So, don’t be scared. Reach out to people you used to know, and you will find that they will be your shoulder to cry on in times of need, just like they used to be in the past.
3. Reconnecting With Old Friends Improves Your Self-Worth
Reaching out to someone you haven’t talked to in ages and seeing that they’re willing to reconnect can immediately boost your confidence. It will make you see that you are worth talking to, even after all this time, and even though you and that person have drifted apart, there’s still compassion between the two of you.
Research shows that relationships can help boost your confidence by reducing stress. Knowing you have a person who will listen to you and validate your feelings is vital in combating feelings of anxiety and doubt you might feel.
The sense of belonging you feel whenever you reconnect to people can make you understand your true worth by demonstrating that you are worth taking the time to strengthen the relationship again.
So, on your path to personal development, remember: you have to feel worthy to have the incentive to start working on yourself, and reconnecting with people you used to love can make you see just how special you are.
We tend to feel scared when we think about reaching out to an old acquaintance, and that’s perfectly normal. People are afraid of rejection, but sometimes you have to take a chance. Old friends and family members are most probably people who still care deeply about you but are just as scared to reach out as you are.
By taking that first step towards reconnecting, you get to rekindle a relationship and get to live through those fantastic feelings of nostalgia that can make you introspect. You can build a support system that will be there in times of pain and boost your confidence. People can always help you become a better you and can help you embark on the road towards inner growth.
So, next time you log into your favorite social media platform, maybe look up your old friends, message them, and invite them to get a coffee. You never know what that relationship can do for you in the future.