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Okay, this will be a more serious post…
Sometimes you have to do something from love and not with love. What I mean by that will become more obvious throughout the post.
When I was in a very dark place not all too long ago, I lost some good friends. I was looking for someone who can understand me and maybe help me with my struggles. However, nothing helped or there was nothing that I accepted for a long time. This drove some of my friends away.
You might want to say that those are not real friends. I thought about it for a long time and I am at a point where I’d disagree. Inadvertently they did me a kindness. I mean it still stings a bit and I was not able to reestablish those close bonds we had in the past, but I can accept that now.
Having a very good friend, someone you want to succeed in life feeling miserable will take a toll on you. If you are a good friend, you will probably try to help in what ever way possible. At least what is in your own power. Now imagine that this doesn’t work. Imagine the state of your friend stays the same or even gets worse over time. And it stays like that for many months, maybe years. What would that do to you?
At some point you will need to protect yourself. For two reasons. First, having a lot of contact with someone who is in a very negative state of mind can drain your energy. Over time, you will feel bad even thinking about having a call or a meeting with that friend. Secondly, wanting to help but nothing works will lead to a feeling of hopelessness. You just cannot endure any longer how someone you love seemingly cannot be happy anymore.
So you withdraw. And I say this is something healthy. If you are not a therapist or psychologist, you are not trained to handle this over an extended period of time. It is a wise decision to withdraw. And it is also a kindness to the other person. During my coaching education, my instructor once gave me the tip that sometimes to withdraw is the best thing you can do.
Imagine that you are a friend who is willing to listen and offer emotional support and advice. And imagine that your friend who is struggling comes always back to you because he/she will feel understood and maybe a bit better after your conversation. But you realize that there are still no improvements. If you withdraw, you will force the other person to look for another solution. So far, you have been it. If you take yourself out of the equation, then maybe he/she will be able to seek professional help. Yes, it can strain or maybe even end the relationship. But then you do it from love and not with love. Your intention is good. Even if your friend doesn’t see it at that time.
Ultimately, we need to take responsibility for our own life. We cannot and should not expect someone else to be our knight in shining armor. We need to find a way to be this knight for ourselves. If you, like I was back then, are not ready to do that, not ready to really want to have solutions, then this is okay. Just take your time to get back some energy and see what you can do for yourself to feel better.
In my opinion, what you can expect from a good friend is that he/she will offer to listen and to give emotional support. As long as they feel that they have the energy to do it. Everything beyond that is something we need to expect from a therapist. Not our friends.
What do you think about this topic?
Have a wonderful day, Stephan