We are our own worst enemies. This weekend I was reminded of that.
On a hike in the woods with some friends I got to chatting with a good friend of mine. Our talk became quite personal and I could tell it affected him strongly. I could see the emotions and their intensity written all over his face, his body language, and the tears that gently welled up in his eyes.
This conversation reminded me that we are always hardest on ourselves. The things we say to ourselves, the things we think, the way we view ourselves and our actions–we wouldn’t treat our friends this way.
Through my eyes, I saw a completely different person than who he felt himself to be. His mother played a huge role in that. She never seemed proud of him and she didn’t seem to believe in him at all. This made him doubt himself, look down on himself, judge himself, and at the end of the day, dislike and disbelieve in himself.
He had a lot of anger and rage toward his mother, and his feelings made him doubt himself further–he wondered if he was a cold, unemotional, unfeeling person, and whether something was wrong with him.
I reminded him of a day when he and I were supposed to be meeting up for a summer festival, and when he found me there I was bawling my eyes out. My father had said some very hurtful things to me moments before, and I was sobbing quite hysterically in public. When my friend met up with me I told him I was fine, it was nothing. I told him we should go, since we were supposed to meet up with other friends as well, and that I’d be fine.
He wouldn’t accept that. He told me to stop, and breathe, and gave me time to compose myself a bit. Then we walked to a quiet street and he wanted to know what was wrong, and what upset me. I could see that he was really affected by my tears, and that he cared about me a lot.
I reminded him of this day, and I told him–he was the last person I would ever describe as unfeeling or uncaring. He was a great friend–supportive, caring, considerate and always willing to help with anything he could.
Sometimes we’re hard on ourselves in a way we wouldn’t be with others. Sometimes we have stories in our minds that play out, whether or not they’re in touch with ‘reality’. We can sometimes see things in a very negative light.
A couple of months ago I found out I got a job that I really wanted. I was super happy and really looking forward to it. At the same time, within that period, I broke up with my boyfriend.
I felt really hopeless. I felt like I kept going in circles and was destined to feel the same sting of pain every time. Another relationship lost. I felt like everything was up in the air–I’d be starting a new job, I was fresh out of a relationship–so much change in so little time made me anxious.
I remember being in the car with my brother driving, and me bawling my eyes out because I really thought this guy might’ve been the one, and I really liked him a lot. My heart was breaking and it made everything look bad.
My brother asked me, and I could hear the sincerity in his voice: “how can two people look at the same thing and see something so different?”
My brother said he was proud of me for letting go of something that wasn’t right for me, and for ending that relationship. He could see I wasn’t happy. As much as I liked this guy, he had a lot of baggage and wasn’t treating me well because of it. He said he was also proud of me for trying hard to find a job that I love, for going to interview after interview and not giving up until I got there.
While I saw someone whose life was in shambles, my brother saw strength and resiliency. He saw someone on the way to better things, someone who was strong and fought for herself.
Maybe sometimes the way we feel colours the way we see things, and how we perceive them to be. I felt really awful in that moment. I felt broken-hearted–a feeling that wasn’t quite new to me–and I felt hopeless. But that wasn’t the reality of my situation. Losing someone hurts, but it also opens the door to something better, to someone who can appreciate you the way you appreciate them. And as much as the unknown can be scary, starting a new job and being newly single doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Change can be good. Stability can be comforting, but, change can be good.
I think it’s good to take a step back every now and then and try to reassess the situation. Try to take that initial perception or interpretation and see it from different angles. See the different possibilities that might exist. Think of what you would say to a friend in that situation. How you would react, what you might think, what you would tell them.
Sometimes we give our friends and family a bit more slack than we give ourselves, and at the end of the day we owe it to ourselves to care. We owe it to ourselves to be kind, understanding and accepting of ourselves.