Better question: how much are you worth?
After work the other day, I was speaking with “Caroline” about one of her friendships. It seems her friend “Ben” (fake name) was always bailing on their plans mere hours before the start of them. Caroline was frustrated but didn’t want to say anything; she didn’t want to bring it up because she was worried she might lose the friendship. A natural fear, and I admit I have the same feeling sometimes.
But my question to her (thanks to my therapist – ha!) was, “Do you really think your friendship will last if you don’t share your frustrations?” The answer is no. Most definitely not, and she knew from experience. Recently a different friend had been incredibly judgmental of her, ambushing Caroline with a five-minute rant about her supposed failings. And even though Caroline wanted to address the grievance, to stick up for herself, she didn’t. Why? Because she didn’t want to confront her friend and end up losing him.
Bet you can guess what happened. They don’t talk any more.
So with this recent example, I pressed her to talk to her friend. There are a million ways to say what needed to be said:
- It really ruins my night when you cancel our plans last-minute. I understand you have other obligations that can get in the way, but this is becoming a regular occurrence and I feel like you don’t value our time hanging out. Is there something going on? Are you okay, feeling overwhelmed?
- I was so excited to do our pizza night, and you bailed!?? What’s up with that?! Geez man I’m beginning to think you either don’t want to hang out with me, or you are getting this HUGE crush on me and just can’t keep your feelings secret any more! haha!!! Seriously though, I hate that we haven’t gotten to have a movie night lately….
- Hey, so, lately you have been canceling our plans and they are always during the week when something comes up. Maybe from now on we could make plans on the weekend. What do you think?
There were ton of ways Caroline could confront the issue with Ben. In the end she chose not to say anything. Again. And I can understand the impulse. Maybe it wasn’t as important to her as she let on. But the root of her feelings relate to something inside many of us that allow us to be neglected, taken advantage of, or ignored. Something that tells us not to recognize our needs, our wants, our desires because verbalizing them – according to this inner voice – will make us somehow less likable.
I know the feeling. In relationships and friendships, the fear of rejection can be so strong it derails self-confidence. We value our friendships and loved ones so much we don’t want to risk losing them. Perhaps we think we are unworthy or undeserving, not good enough, or unlovable. Perhaps we lack trust. For some reason we are convinced we will be cast aside. We trivialize our feelings, ignore our needs, downplay our desires. Little problems become big ones. Big problems bring us the reality we sought so desperately to avoid: the end of that relationship. If Ben was not interested in being friends any more (something Caroline suspected as a possibility), whether or not she said something it would happen if that’s what Ben wanted. But how she felt about the ending that friendship was up to her. And right now, she felt rejected. Is this some sort of “I’m the victim” addiction, or a trend that needs corrected? What about her value? Her self-confidence? Saying how she felt – standing up to her fear of rejection – could do wonders for her self-image. Regardless of the outcome. Acknowledging her feelings, and seeking to address the issue (however passively), would at least leave her feeling satisfied because she did the best she could. Acting on her emotions in a healthy way – a way she could be proud of – tells herself three very important things: she is deserving of healthy friendships, her feelings matter and should matter to her friend, and she is a good person capable of addressing her problems with fairness and maturity.
There is a balance needed in recognizing when it is necessary to confront an issue within a relationship. Sometimes it isn’t worth it. Sometimes it is. When my husband asks me, “Have you made your breakfast yet?” every morning, I get a little annoyed sometimes. But I try not to snap at him or bring it up, because I know he is saying it out of concern (and because I have a tendency to run late and a breakfast is something I cannot skip). Knowing his actions are motivated from care, and knowing they are harmless, I don’t need to say a word about it (ironically, he’ll read this post and know it anyhow — sorry honey, it was a good example! Keep asking – I know I need to hear it!). But there are times when it is important to say something. And it can be difficult. But it needs to be done if we are to have any self-respect at all. Good luck!
On another note: my Kickstarter campaign is over in just THREE days (March 22nd in the evening). The fund-raising goal has been exceeded by $150!!! Thank you! I can’t wait to send out the rewards! If you still want to pledge, there is time. Please spread the word if you think anyone is interested. There is a link at the bottom of this page and at the top of the main Be Nice. page. And Happy Spring!