“Meet the bell, kid.”

When I was younger, I heard the phrase “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” At the time, I didn’t fully understand what these words meant. As a young (less every day) adult, it’s dawned on me just how important it is who you surround yourself with…and why it’s true that no man/woman is an island. Though there seem to be a number of people who think themselves capable of existing without the community of others.

I recently spoke with a friend of mine about the ‘people in your corner’ who are there to pick you up between the rounds of life, splash water on your face, and tell you to hit the man in the center when you see three floating versions of your opponent. I’ve read Evander Holyfield: Humble Warrior several times. Champ was the first to admit that the people outside the ring were just as important as the fighter in the ring. Life is no different, in or out of the ring.

There’s something oddly poetic about Rocky as he takes his licks, only to come out of the ring and shout for Adrian, immediately after having his arm raised in victory. Nine times out of ten, this scene makes my eyes water.

With my own life taking a combination of twists and turns, it’s been the people around me who have helped me battle every fight. To sit in the company of friends/family and be able to state that my life has never been better is a remarkable gift.

Three noticeable traits of people in your ‘corner’ that distinguish them from the endless number of transient individuals who pass through our lives.

1.) Active Empathy

Having empathy for somebody means having the ability to understand and feel what another individual is going through. Active empathy is being willing to step in the fight with them, in whatever way is required. Sometimes it’s having a shoulder to cry on, while other times it means being the first person to raise your hand and order shots for the person in crisis.

The people who have true empathy are true listeners; hearing what you have to say and processing it with you, rather than just waiting their turn to speak.

2.) A Safe Place

We’re human. That means each and every one of us is capable of making poor choices out of bad judgement. The people in your corner are the first ones to lend a hand of support, rather than point a finger of judgement. Being able to offer love and compassion in a situation that would otherwise warrant judgement, is a quality a true friend will have.

To know that somebody is a safe place means you can be open, honest and sincere with this person without fear of judgement or rejection. If you’re in the wrong, they’ll walk with you until you realize that and are able to make the changes necessary.

3.) Honesty

Knowing when to offer harsh honesty is a trait that requires patience and tact. A true cornerman (or woman) will allow you to grieve and bleed, as needed, before injecting you with truth that can sometimes be painful.

When somebody is willing to have the courage to say something that could hurt – or compromise the friendship, were it not a sincere one – you know you’ve got a true friend that is willing to go the distance to love you…even if it means pulling your head out of your proverbial ass.

It’s the people who would be willing to take a bullet for you – and you for them – that make the difference. The joy of these people is realizing that we get to share our lives and journey together.

And what a remarkable journey that is…

Featured Image From Deviantart

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