Three years ago I almost lost a good friend, largely over a misunderstanding.
Another friend stepped in and tried to straighten things out, and in doing so, made the already shaky relationship we had that much worse.
She chastised me for committing an offense I truly couldn’t see I was guilty of having done, citing a conversation I’d had with her husband as another example. By this time, I’d reconciled with the first woman, so I asked for her perspective about what our mutual friend had told me. I was concerned I might be blind to what would be a fairly significant problem.
She didn’t see the issue the same way, but I remained aware of this potential flaw in my character. Eventually I realized the problem was more likely something I’d already known about my second friend. She will not only defend her husband regardless of what he’s done (and for the most part, I can’t fault her for that), she will lash out at other people who dare to challenge him.
In this case, in my conversation with this man, we’d disagreed about an issue I strongly believe in. Typically with him I let go, even when I know he’s spouting baloney, because it isn’t worth it to disagree. This time, however, I stepped in it, rather than around it. I don’t apologize for that. I should have done it more often.
You can’t trust the “constructive criticism” that comes from a woman who is defending her husband, no matter how sincere she might be, or might think she is being, in trying to help a challenging situation.
Which brings it all back around to my response to her comments about this perceived flaw. I was inspired to write about this after reading K E Garland’s post, Monday Notes: Agreement #2, in which she discusses the second of the Four Agreements (from the book of the same name): “never take anything personally.”
The crux of this agreement is we take neither criticism nor praise personally, because it reflects the other individual’s state of mind, which can change with the wind.
I believe we should weigh what others say, both the good and the bad, but ultimately, we have to decide for ourselves what the truth is in any given situation.
High school was a challenging time for me, and there were plenty of days my appearance showed the depression, anger and hurt I was feeling so deeply. I could always count on my friends Leigh and Sue to compliment my hair or tell me I’d lost weight on those days. Trust me, the compliments reflected their kindness, not the truth about my hairstyle or figure.
Most of the time, our friends aren’t as transparent as Leigh and Sue were (and I’m thankful to this day for their friendship). But, on the flip side of my bad hair days in adolescence, if I know my new haircut is flattering, the faint praise of someone whose opinion I value shouldn’t throw me. She may be sinking underneath some pain she isn’t willing to share.
Trusting yourself is a scary thing. If you’re going to be truly honest, you know you have blinders. Still, that same honesty can save you when others are less faithful to the situation.
Be true to yourself.
Image Credits: (All) © RomanBen — Bigstock