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Archive for the ‘Self esteem’ Category

I have long felt that certain emotions are poison for the soul. Anger, hatred, jealousy, insecurity are but a few of these and I have talked of some of them elsewhere on this blog. However, this post intends to discuss another very malignant feeling, one that can actually exerts its toxin so far beyond its immediate sphere, that it often becomes impossible to check, or treat, its effects. I refer to bitterness that sort of corrosive, harmful bitterness that seeps through you and starts to be the bane of not just your mind and actions, but at a basic level, your very soul.

Some may feel it an exaggeration to credit bitterness with so much power. After all, we must all have fallen prey to one variation or other of this feeling when certain injustices (real or perceived) are meted out to us, by people or by life itself. However, I stick by what I assert. Bitterness is evil, it will hurt you far more than you may realise, it will spread through your life and lead to rot in otherwise perfectly healthy limbs of your “life tree”, until those branches that it has infected are good for nothing but destruction. I refer here to genuine bitterness, not a fit of pique or temporary upset or anger with a situation or person that hurt you or caused you grief or loss.

I sort of wonder why I choose to write this today, especially as I am actually finding this unexpectedly hard to do, unlike most of my other posts, where once I start, the flow of words is almost automatic. This is somehow different, maybe because I have very recently had to guard myself against the onslaught of resentment and bitterness at one of life’s latest curve balls thrown in my direction. Ok, let me be brutally honest. I did get angry, resentful and bitter for a while, a relatively short while I am proud to add, but still. The effects were almost instantaneous – that sense of loss of control, in turn causing mental stress, unhappiness and pointless regret on things ranging so far back, that I thought I had drawn a line under them a while ago. Thankfully, I checked myself before too long. Actually, I think it is more accurate to say, discussions with others near and dear to me reminded me of how unhealthy bitterness and resentment is, and that was probably my saving grace. I witness the effects of this sort of malignant bitterness at close quarters. I will not name names or relations, in fact, there is more than one person I have seen be a victim to such soul-destroying afflictions. They all teach me that it is essential to hone your “defense mechanism” against it and to ensure you are not corrupted by its effects.

It was an important lesson, a stark reminder of how, just as anger destroys the ability to reason, bitterness destroys the capacity to be happy in any meaningful way in your life. So how can you prevent feeling resentful, angry, hurt or bitter when something awful happens? I do not think you can, at least not momentarily, unless you are a truly exalted soul genuinely above any human vice. However, I firmly believe you can prevent these feelings before they deteriorate and spiral to a level that cannot be controlled. Ah yes, control – that is again the key. I found it very helpful to grasp my fear of losing control as one way to stop myself falling into the “bitterness trap”. See, the thing with feeling bitter is that you feel like that about one issue or a discrete range of problems that besets you, never imagining that this in turn is making you lose enjoyment in every other aspect of your life. And that to me is a real shame. No matter how bad things get, there is always hope and the world is subliminally beautiful and life is always worth living. By living I mean living with love and joy, not just empty meaningless existing. However, when your cup is already full of bitterness you simply cannot see the wood for the trees as such, that feeling becomes all-pervading and seriously impedes, if not utterly destroys, your capacity to enjoy other things, even if they are wholly unconnected to the situation or event that is the cause of your ill will. By consciously rising above it, just like you have to often force yourself to do with feelings of anger, you free yourself of its virulence.

It is the classic adage – you have to set yourself free from that vicious circle by genuinely recognising that bad things happen and we often experience things that are awful, hurtful, even belittling or crippling in any which way. If you can exercise your will and regain control of your being to the extent that you can abandon the bitterness without losing the experience and whatever it may teach you (good or bad), you will feel all the better of it. Good experiences will then be allowed to continue to filter into your life, in fact you can actively seek them out as you will not have abandoned positivity together with sweetness in your life, and then life will continue to demonstrate its numerous daily miracles to you. Oh, I have heard the counter arguments – you cannot help it, some things are so bad, you cannot control your reaction(s) to them. Yes, maybe, but I still maintain that you can, and should try to, control your long-term response to such events, situations or even people. After all, we are always co-conspirators in our destiny, that fine balance regulated by fate and free will. Maybe the tragedy that befell you was unavoidable and caused by some cosmic occurrence, but your reaction to it, is yours alone and you need to own it. It has always been my eventual realisation in the concept that by rising above my situation at any point, I get an empowering perspective and this allows me to look forward with hope and positivity, rather than backwards with regret and bitterness.

I would like to begin concluding with this wonderful short quote by Terry Brooks: “Hurt leads to bitterness, bitterness to anger, travel too far that road and the way is lost.”  Therefore, don’t lose the way, find yourself and a beautiful future for you and yours.

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It has been a while since posts but I have realised that writing is like that constant and true friend that no matter how long since your last conversation with them, you can pick straight up from where you left off and it was like it always was – uplifting and positive.

Back to the blog post now. I have been fermenting something in my mind of late. It was there, just lurking around the edges of my conscious thoughts, but still slightly out of reach, probably muddied by the confusion generally surrounding my “head space” of late due to stress. Today, like the sun shining through a previously cloudy and murky sky, it finally broke through! It was the realisation that tend to cling on to the negatives so easily, we crowd out any possible space for what we really need – the genuine “positives” in life. The things we all have, be they our health, our friends, our families, our homes or anything that is of honest and intrinsic value, generally divorced from a materialistic association.

Most of us do it unconsciously and would be horrified if we realised what we were really doing. We let hate, anger, grief, loss or a multitude of other unhealthy experiences or emotions “stick” to us, they were generally unavoidable when they happened to us but they made such an impact on us, we reacted to them so intensely, they became almost a part of us. We often think we have moved on, we congratulate ourselves for having coped with a really “bad” life event, we have our near and dear ones pat our back, telling us we are through the worst and that we should be proud of what we have overcome. Yes, we should be proud I suppose, as any step towards truly letting go of that which locks your genuine potential and thwarts your progress in life’s inexorable but exciting journey, should be celebrated and applauded.

However, have we really “let go” in the real sense? We may think we have, but how many times do we still re-visit those bad memories and even worse, do we actually let those hurtful past memories and experiences affect not just the present, but also pollute the future? It is like slow poison, it lingers in the veins and insidiously exerts its malignant effect on not just us, but those around us who care for and love us. I am not professing it is easy especially as we may often not even realise that something we believed long dead and buried still haunts us. Like with anything that is more introspective than solely reactive, we can only address it by being conscious that when we feel negative or react in an unreasonable manner to something that does not really justify such response, there may be an explanation for that connected to some previous event or experience. Your brain and heart may fight against this self-realisation, after all, acknowledging something often opens the floodgates to those hurtful traumas most of us work very hard to lock away as soon as we can. Only once you get past that natural “flight” mode (in a psychological rather than physical sense of course), can you start to constructively address what it is that truly plagues you.

Memories can often be like those niggling burrs, embedded somewhere in the recesses of your psyche, not constantly painful and thus requiring immediate removal, but just there; they flare into inflamed and “infected” state when prodded. The stimulus for this can be anything, it can be a current occurrence that just reminds us through often very indirect association of the often consciously forgotten past incident(s). The difficulty is with understanding this and then dissociating the past experience to whatever is happening currently so that in a truly clichéd sense “the past does not damage the present and future”. There is no universal method of doing this of course, different methods will work on different individuals, the “how” is not the main consideration, it is the eventual result of making this effort and successfully overcoming any crippling effects from the previous negative or traumatic experience.

However, if done properly, the effects are like amputating that rotten limb, you may feel like you have lost something, but if you had kept it, it was only going to keep spreading its poison until it destroyed the rest of you that was not gangrenous in the first place. Therefore, to constructively live a life and attain a future that is divorced from unhealthy association and unhampered by negativity going forward, reflect, analyse and honestly address what memories and feelings you want to take forward with you, and which ones you are best leaving behind.  You cannot wish away anything that happened to you, after all, every experience in your life, good or bad, shapes who you are and dictates your strength and character (again for the better or worse) but once you start exercising conscious choice, you can dictate what shape your present and future can take.

To remind me of this, I think about the wonderfully inspiring and indomitably spirited Helen Keller, who so beautifully encapsulated this theory:

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us. “

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Jealousy seems to be an extremely common affliction. Every time I explain that it is a feeling I am generally unfamiliar with, people (especially those who do not know me well), are struck with surprise. It is therefore quite hard to write this piece, as it is always difficult to express feelings you have not felt, and certainly never felt with any level of intensity to do justice to a particular emotion. Such is my brush with jealousy, I simply do not tend to get jealous. Maybe, it is because I am not at heart a possessive person, I feel love is an emotion bountiful enough to go round and the more it is shared, the more it expands. I am also not attracted by the theories of all-consuming love that makes you want to own a person (or even worse, an object), to the exclusion of all others. The supreme form of all-encompassing love must be that for God, it can of course also be for your parents, family, partners, children and others, but all those latter relations are transitory and will end with the span of our limited lives. The love for God, in my opinion, transcends those, but that is somewhat beyond the scope of today’s post.

Coming back to envy, the majority of people I know, seem to treat it as an inevitable consequence of loving. If you love intensely, you get attached, and this then almost automatically translates into making you feel like you are entitled to undivided attention from the object of your affections. This is all supplemented by the romantic notions, much flaunted as demonstrative of epic love, where we believe that being jealous or possessive, especially in a romantic context, is almost necessary to demonstrate depth of feeling for your loved one. After Mills and Boons have been running this formula with huge success over the years. Most of us will sigh in delight at a “hero” getting insanely jealous over his love interest. Jealousy has been almost glamorised as a prerequisite to an expression of deep love. On the other extreme, jealousy amongst friends, siblings, colleagues and even that of parents for their children, are all vilified and people feeling such emotions allegorised as almost demonic or at the very least, guilty of deep moral failing.

Either way, jealousy is a negative emotion and identifying it and trying to eliminate it can have some real immediate benefit for your emotional and mental well-being. It is really important to recognise that jealousy has to be one of those totally wasteful and self-defeating feelings one can experience, it destroys the very relationship you are anxious to preserve. What gives birth to jealousy? Probably too wide a consideration is required to be done justice to here, but in a generalised context, it seems to me to originate from our own insecurities. If we were confident of ourself, our feelings and their reciprocity, it is difficult to see how the envy can take root. If only we were able to work through that often almost automatic rush of felt shortcoming that births its progeny, jealousy, we would realise that the very person we feel jealous of is possibly also suffering similar feelings, if not for us, for someone else. For, as we are generally quick and able to perceive our own inadequacies, others are also affected, albeit their insecurities may stem from another area.

Further, we then enter the realm where that envy blinds us and makes us suspicious and unhappy in every which way. We begin to see our spouse  simply admiring someone as concrete evidence of infidelity and of-course once trust erodes, it brings down the whole foundation of your relationship. The same can be true of any tie, I have only exemplified the most common and obvious one that springs to mind. Of course we must view this in perspective, not every jealous or insecure pang we have, will have disastrous consequences, it is fairly easy and also very understandable to succumb to such concerns as affect most of us on various levels. It is, however, the form of envy or jealousy that can easily result in genuine spite, that we must guard against. Its onset can be subtle, but its grip is oft unshakeable. Nowhere is this more dramatically emphasised than in Othello. Shakespeare had the right of it of-course. That gradual poison spreading through the psyche, causing the unbearable angst, and finally the overwhelming and utter destruction, not just of the person you love above all else, but of yourself too, is so vividly portrayed, it always frightens me with its implications.

How can one prevent feeling jealous? I am afraid I cannot adduce a ready answer to it. All I can say is, recognising the futility of your illness (for jealousy more often than not manifests itself as an actual illness), may make it easier to deal with it. There is no pill to swallow that will make it better, it must be something that needs to be identified and then rooted out. You could do this by being self-analytical and examining the root of what is causing you to react in that manner. Most complexes are of course girded from the loins of a lack of something, real or perceived. For example, feeling ill will towards someone your partner praises as beautiful is usually caused by an insecurity of your own appearance. As I said above, remember that whilst you are fighting these emotions towards someone, they may be looking at you (or could be) and feeling equally inferior. You are bound to have some quality or gift someone else may be/ can envy so try to pierce the veil and examine all the things you have to offer and what life has gifted you. Further, understand that no matter how much you may dislike someone’s attributes, whatever they may be, your envy will not yield them to you. If you want to attain something you covet in others, try to achieve it through your own honest efforts. Why not be radical and try to take pleasure in someone’s success or achievements, you will inadvertently be sharing it and as far-fetched as that sounds, such thinking really works.

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Aashi – this one is specially for you. Aashi, one of the sweetest people I have come to know recently, raised a really good question, or questions really, whilst commenting on my “Glass Houses” post. She essentially asked how you deal with the pain of those who let you down or outright hurt you, behave in a way that breaches every acceptable remit of what trust implies – how can you forgive such betrayals, let alone forget? I expect we must extend this to include those who may not have in any way directly wronged you, but have merely drifted apart from you due to any number of potential factors and you thus view this as an abandonment. How do you deal with the loss of such relationships, without bitterness corroding he once happy memories you must have shared with them? I use the word relationships deliberately, as ended friendships can hurt or scar as much as any broken bond with a romantic partner, so the scope is wide but can include any person or persons you had a significant bond with.

This discussion reminded me of the phrase, “Friends can be for a reason, a season or a lifetime”. I used to struggle with grasping this concept as I suppose everyone I counted as a true friend, I assumed would be a “lifetime” influence or fixture. This cannot be so – thinking like this is another manifestation of attachment that binds us to people in a way that often overlooks our cosmic connection with them. We befriend or meet someone, or they us, we get on so well, they help us in ways that cannot be defined, we then start to believe they are an indispensable part of our existence, we form an attachment to them that transforms them often into a ‘human crutch” for us. We sub-consciously believe that we cannot do without their support, our well-being and success is somehow incomplete if they do not share it. We often give this the label of love, but true love should not be a slave to possession or reciprocity.

Anyone who has had an extremely close friendship or other relationship must have at some point experienced the pain and despair of it ending, or at least fracturing, so I hope that what I describe is something they can relate to. However, if we think about friends who are no longer friends, either due to some disconnect or discord, or simply due to time and distance or circumstance, as still having been our one-time teachers, that might help. They enable us to remember the lessons we learnt but not be corrupted by pointless pain or anger at their departure from our life. We do not hate our teachers, good or bad as they may have been, for having “left” after having imparted whatever lesson or knowledge that was their forte. In fact, in many cases, we owe them, and afford them heart-felt thanks for making us what we are. It is after all, the lessons we learn and how we learn them, that shapes the course our lives often take.

Think of your friends, both past and present, or any relationships really, in the same manner. You were meant to meet some people at a certain point in your life – you will not accept this if you do not subscribe to the inescapable theory of “karma”, but I cannot otherwise account for why we meet some people and not others, from the multitudes that prowl our universe. Why do some lives intersect with ours at any given point and why are we only meant to walk a certain distance with such companions, before their own paths diverge and they accompany us, or us them, no longer? Why, because it was fated to be and yes, our free will may, and will, impact on a lot of our actual interactions with the other “passengers” on this “journey”, but it will not affect the overall outcome or destination of our quest or theirs.

Put simply, accept that not everyone who means a lot to you at any given point in your life, will be a constant throughout your existence, or theirs. After all, change is the only constant in life. Just take from them and your relationship with them, whatever good you can extract, let any “bad” serve as an experience that helps the future and overall, let them go. Focussing on, and remaining affected by, the pain, anger, loss, grief, frustration or any other negative feeling you associate with them long after your relationship has played its course, only shackles you in a meaningless prison of your own making. As Ann Landers described: “Hanging onto resentment is letting someone you despise live rent-free in your head”.

However, I extend this slightly further – do not despise, despise implies hatred and continued negativity, any trace of this will continue to keep you chained to the very person or memories you need to part with, so do not hate, resent or stay angry. Simply understand that even any pain caused to you is a part of the full range of experiences we must undergo to have really “lived”. The feeling of release from letting go extends its benefit by causing an immediate lightness in your own spirit and being. It then sets you free to like, love or live again, and hopefully all three. Simply love, live and learn, it is a fluid process that only ends with life, and maybe not even then. I read a wonderful quote recently, source unknown – “If someone you love hurts you cry a river, build a bridge, and get over it”, which really struck a chord with me, I hope it does with you too.

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I write this after reading a comment from one of the new friends I have made recently, who was kind enough to read and comment on my post “Lonely but not alone”. Hema- this one was born from what you said.  Also, a special mention to my friend and fellow blogger, Tulika, who has inspired some of the thought behind this through her recently posted excellent piece, “Have you found your way home yet” and from the comments she and others shared on that post. I should also warn that this is likely to read as fairly abstract and will probably only appeal to those of a somewhat spiritual disposition, so if you do not enjoy that form of reading, then you may not want to continue, although I hope you might give it a chance!.

I look around me and see a lot of “gifted” or talented individuals -both words seem to be used, and thought of as, interchangeable. Some are great singers, some artists, others can dance, actors are a supreme inspiration through their performances, many boast of writing skills, yet other display cooking expertise, others are good at more prosaic skills such as financial management. The list is non-exhaustive, but the point is that the word “gifted” is used often, and to encompass a varied skill set. It also strikes me that a lot of us find it easy to identify talent or skills in others, but we may not always be able to relate to, or recognise, our own “gift”.

Many would respond to that by saying that this is because not everyone is talented or gifted. However, I disagree. I believe that each of us is talented although we may not know it ourselves. I cannot look around me at the many I know and see even one who has nothing special they can boast of. It is a different matter that what I think of as a gift or special talent, doesn’t necessary entitle that person to automatic participation in a talent contest. The reason for such exclusion is not because their skill or expertise is any less valuable than its more visible cousins, but because we live in a society where people look, but do not always see. Unless you can display a trait that is immediately apparent and can be converted, or at least has the potential to be converted, to a tangible act, outcome or benefit, you risk neglect.

For example, a wonderful voice is an immediately recognisable talent; I always felt wistful that I cannot sing ( well, if I did,you certainly would not want to listen!),but never consciously hankered to be a wonderful friend, until I realised that the latter was a precious ability because it had the potential to do unforeseen “good” and could result in true satisfaction. It is perhaps not the best example but I am trying to put across that there are so many so-called “ordinary” people who would never think themselves gifted but they are! Their gift may be subtle; their strength may lie in motivating others to do something for instance. Don’t believe that is a talent? Look at the history of numerous successful and recognised talented individuals – the world may have never encountered them but for the help, encouragement or support of others behind them who helped the “star” you admire to shine so bright. Is that not why we thank people when and if we receive an award? After all, any artist needs a muse in one form or other, so if your talent lies in bringing expression to another’s, it is no less a talent for being subsumed by a more glaring achievement or protagonist.

Taking it one step further, I believe the Creator (whichever form you believe in them in) is incapable of “making” anyone or anything without infusing in them some “magic”; we would call that a talent, gift, art, or even simply, potential. Hindus believe God resides in each one of us and if that is true, we must be possessing of some element, no matter how minute, of his energy. What can be a bigger gift? I like to think that we are in ourselves the Almighty’s gift to one another and to his own cosmos, that he lovingly fashioned for us and Him/Herself. Yes, how we use that gift, or even if we recognise it, is up to us, but it is there, within and around us all. Just look in the right place and really “see” beyond the shroud of superficiality that surrounds us, and you will find it. And once you do, be generous with it, as the more you share it, the more it grows.

I end this with a simple Blessed Be!

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This is a lesson I learnt the hard way and to be honest, I am not sure I have still perfected it- it is one I need to constantly revise. It strikes me that we spend so much time trying to make others love us, be that in relation to our work, our appearance, any particular feature or quality or any contribution we make. However, how often do we stand back and take a good, long look at ourselves to decide whether we like ourselves?

Speaking for myself- I don’t think I used to, and even today, I have to work hard at going back to the basic premise that you need to like or indeed, love yourself, to ever obtain a sense of genuine self-worth or achievement. I struggle with this concept as I am my own worst critic and see innumerable faults in myself. I used to see so many sometimes that I often failed to understand how anyone else could like, let alone love me.  This excluded my parents and siblings as I didn’t credit them with much choice in the matter- they were stuck with me after all, and I am sure I had my moments where I doubted that even they admired or really liked me, as opposed to loved me due to the unbreakable family bond. 

As is often the case with me, one of my friends set me straight on this. She is a trained counsellor and clearly knows what she is talking about. She certainly had to work hard to try to undo the damage done by years of accumulated put-downs and subtle but effective criticism. It is amazing how, if you let it, a few years of such abuse (and I do think it abusive to consistently erode someone’s self-confidence and spirit) can undo years of positive fostering and care by your own family and true friends. However, the rot spreads fast once it catches.

The difficulty is identifying how deeply it has spread and then setting about cutting it off. Also, like most malignant cancers, it can strike again and again, and one must try and guard against it all the time or if it sets in again, viciously rip it away as many times as needed.

My friend suggested that you need to stand in front of the mirror everyday and tell yourself that you are fabulous and how much you love yourself (the words may have been different but this is how I interpreted them). You might think it sounds silly and you will look foolish doing so, but frankly, who cares how silly you look to yourself. It cannot be worse than never giving yourself a chance to like or love yourself? There are other methods- if you are the list making type, write down what you see in yourself as your own sterling qualities but be honest. My initial impulse whenever I tried to think of what was good about me was met with a mental brick wall of my own making. This wall still surfaces from time to time and I have to do my best Lara Croft impersonation (in my mind- I am not a magician!) to break it down.

Even simpler, speak to a really good friend or a loved one- ask them what they see in you that they admire or love. This is not meant to be an exercise in fishing for meaningless compliments and you can explain that you need real and honest answers. Also, don’t dismiss things you may view as somewhat menial “You have a nice smile” may sound fairly shallow in the context of exploring your inner beauty, but a smiling person brightens not just their own, but the day of others too. Therefore, having a nice smile is better than looking like you are constantly sucking on a lemon!

Why am I doing this today? It is one of those days that I feel just that little bit insecure; not sure if the seeming endless spiral of thankless tasks and stress-inducing situations that make you doubt yourself and think about whether you ever really achieve or do anything truly worthwhile, can be negated. Writing this all out has reminded me of the “dark days”, ones I promised would never visit me again so this is stage 1 of saving the situation. Stage 2 will be reminding myself of all the reasons (they immediately escape me!) as to why I am not too bad- sorry, scrap that- why I am a nice person and deserving of love, both from others and myself. Hopefully, this will do the trick. If it doesn’t I shall be looking through my “SOS” list- the people I can always count on, no matter what, and I know they will succeed should I fail. In any case, I am determined I will keep trying to like and love myself, the love of others is then just an automatic consequence.

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Wondering what unknown disease my title refers to? It may not be in any medical dictionary or in any way a clinically recognised term, but it is an ailment all-right, and one that does and can easily afflict many. It is that state of being where people who have been dealt a bad hand by fate or life, i.e. almost everyone at some stage or other in their lives, get so entrenched in their misery and self pity, that they use the tragedy that affected them to constantly justify on-going behaviour, usually the undesirable sort.

I accept that when something tragic happens, we do, and indeed, should grieve. I also accept that we all deal with grief in different ways. Some of us get depressed, tearful and regressive, some get angry and aggressive, some of us take to drink for a while, some turn to religion- that is all “normal” and to some extent, depending on what method we use to channel the negativity caused by trauma out, healthy. If anything, not reacting in any way is universally acknowledged to cause long standing psychological damage. There is a time to grieve and we need to get through the process to emerge eventually cleansed and in that sense, hopefully “cured” of what befell us.

However, my title refers to the condition of those who seem to then use whatever terrible affliction they suffered to continue to shroud their lives, and even worse, that of others around them, for years, in some cases, possibly for evermore. An example is the alcoholic who started drinking to cope with say, bereavement, but then the alcohol becomes such a crutch, that years after the tragedy, that person remains an alcoholic and either cannot, or doesn’t want to kick the habit. An even more subtle symptom, but that which is possibly more difficult to address, is the person who lets the initial bitterness that resulted from their mishap or tragedy, corrode their very being to such an extent, that those around them and mostly those that care for them, continue to bear its brunt many many years after the offending incident. The worse thing is, you cannot help these people usually, as any constructive attempt to get them to change and to leave their past behind, will lead to mostly vitriolic responses such as, “You do not understand, you did not go through what I did”. This is generally sufficient to silence most but the most persistent, especially when the tragedy you are accused of not being able to co-relate to as you didn’t undergo is something extreme, such as bereavement, abuse of any form or similar.

What do you therefore do? It seems you often try for a while, in some cases, a long while, but you eventually either give up and wash your hands off the one-time victim, or simply accept the continuing unhealthy behaviour as the norm for that person and if the latter, you are probably unknowingly sanctioning it. Either way, far from ideal. I am not sure there is a universal solution, or if there is, I certainly do not know it. I know that I have come across many friends and even family who fall into this criteria and I have oscillated between continuing to gently counsel them and being incessantly patient with them, to wanting to shake them to say, “Get over it and stop letting it ruin your life forever, for your own sake, move on!”. I believe I have tried both and possibly all sorts of other approaches as well, I cannot really sum up the success rate or otherwise, it tends to vary depending on the personality of the sufferer, nature of their tragedy and a million other circumstances personal to each situation.

I do not mean to be harsh or unsympathetic, anyone who knows me well should be able to vouch I am neither, ever- but there does come a point where I can recognise that I am not being a good friend or genuine well wisher by simply listening or watching that person continue their self destructive behaviour. It is harder to address the problem and try to bring the person out of that state but be warned, that you may often lose that person in the process as they will usually resent your efforts and deem you unfeeling and hard hearted. However, to be a true friend or family in the real sense, you have to sometimes play “bad cop” and if that means you will lose that person, so be it- at the very least it may act as at least a sub-conscious goad that may someday bring about the positive change you set in motion now. If the worse happens, I tend to comfort myself by thinking I am in that category of friends so aptly described by Plutarch, who said, “I don’t need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better.”

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