Imagine for a moment, that the following short story is happening to you:
A Friend In Need
It’s late in the evening. You had a long day at work. And you can feel that what you need most right now, is to just relax for the rest of the night..
You put on your sweatpants… Some warm socks …...One of those ugly shirts that you knew didn’t suit you but you ended up buying anyway (God knows why)...
It’s clear you made a firm decision here: The sweatpants are on. That means you’re not doing anything for the rest of the day that requires even the least bit of effort.
But right when you’re finally ready to lay down on your couch, you get interrupted by the harsh sound of your doorbell.
Slightly annoyed, you walk up to the front door.
It’s your best friend.
They don’t look happy.
(Optional: If you want, you can add some pouring rain, thunder and sad music to the background for dramatic purposes.)
“Can I please come in?”, your friend says.
“I haven’t been feeling very good lately… I don’t know what’s wrong with me…
But I would really appreciate it if you could just be with me for a moment…
Listen to me… Help me figure out what’s wrong so I can feel better soon...”
So being the good friend that you are, you tell them:
“Shut your mouth and go watch some TV until you forget about it. You’re being annoying.”
Your friend, a little confused by your response, shuts up for a while and watches Netflix with you.
But after a while you hear them starting to talk about their worries again. You try to ignore them. But sometimes you can still hear it over the sound of the television. And it’s distracting.
So you tell your friend “Here, have some cookies. In fact. You can have all my cookies. Eat the entire box. As long as you shut up and let me focus on the drama on television, not the one in your head.”
Your friend looks genuinely happy with the cookies. Eats the entire stash. They’re not nagging about their fears and insecurities and unhappiness anymore. They just sit there and smile. Mission accomplished.
The rest of the evening, you’re both watching TV together in silence. You actually didn’t help your friend. You weren’t there for them. But at least you got them to shut up. And they look happy about the cookies. So no problemo, right?
Until at one point, you feel like you’re too tired to watch the rest of the episode. With tired eyes and tired mind, you decide to go to bed.
But once you turn off the TV and sit there alone with your friend, it doesn’t take long for them to realize how miserable they are again.
Now they start talking about everything they wanted to tell you at the start of the night. How deep down, they feel bad sometimes. How they could use some help from you. So you can figure out what’s wrong and fix it.
But you wanna sleep. So instead of listening to a friend in need, you tell them to take a pill, have a drink, or scroll through Instagram pictures until they fall asleep. Whatever helps. As long as you don’t have to listen to their stupid whining anymore.
Shut up. I’m trying to sleep.
Would You Do It?
If someone very important to you showed up late at night. Telling you something was wrong. Would you do it? Would you treat them like you did in the story you just read?
I think most people would say “No, of course not. What kind of question is that? I’d never treat a friend that way.”
Nor would you let anyone else treat you like that, right?
Still, a very large number of people do both of those things on a weekly basis. And it’s possible that you do it too.
Not sure what I mean?
Go back to the start of this post, and re-read the story. But replace “friend” with “my emotions” or “that voice in the back of my head”.
The Reverse Golden Rule
You’ve probably heard of the golden rule before. It says “treat others the way you’d want them to treat you”.
But what about treating yourself with the same respect you treat others with?
Do you help yourself the way you’d help a friend?
Do you follow the same advice you give to others?
When you start feeling a little down, do you take time to ask yourself what’s wrong? To listen to your own emotions instead of ignoring them? And then help yourself fix it?
Have you actually been on a date with yourself? Where you spent the entire day listening to your thoughts and getting to know that person you are?
It may sound ridiculous to actually spend time talking with and listening to your self, or asking what's going on. But it’s important stuff. Because if there’s one person you’ll have to live with for the rest of your life, it’s you.
So you better make sure “the one of you” has a strong relationship 😉
When something's wrong, don't ignore it. Don't tell yourself to shut up, stop bothering you and watch TV. Be there for you. The way you'd be there for a friend.
(s)he'll love you for it 😉
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