Thinking about people in your life is mostly quite a hard task. It’s easy to group them by gender, or occupation or a myriad of other easy classifications, but to define the exact role that they play in your life is something quite different.
I used to have a friend called Louise, we were close friends for an exceptionally long time, very supportive of each other, but then after a relatively minor falling out, we stopped talking. And the strangest thing was – I did not miss her. It was only after not being around her did I realise how negative she could be sometimes, how critical. Her idea of funny was finding some way to demean me or to remind me of times in my life where I had made poor choices. I had lost my objectivity about the relationship, it relied solely on familiarity and ritual.
Let me explain, when we are in a relationship, any kind of relationship, it is incredibly difficult to see a person clearly, without all the nice things that they do fogging over their more negative traits. We all know the negative traits are there but it is easier, it is nicer if we just concentrate on the good bits. The days out. The unexpected gift. Their support for a new job. We are subjective in our view of them. Trying to take an objective viewpoint of our friends gives rise to two issues. 1) We disturb the familiarity of our lives and 2) What do these friends negative traits say about ourselves?
Using the people in our lives as a way to reflect ourselves can be an interesting task. It occurred to me, post-Louise, that I demeaned myself and spent hours contemplating past poor choices, thus she was only doing what I was far more proficient at. In feeling the weight that lifted after my friendship ended, and the relief that brought, if I stopped doing that to myself, would that increase tenfold? A hundredfold? More than that? And this was something that I wanted to explore further. How could I reach a place in my life where putting myself down didn’t come so naturally?
I guess there are myriad ways in which each of us put ourselves down or have negative ‘self-talk’. Through harsh experiences, through relationships, through our work and so many others. At some point, we have gently decided that we are not enough (whatever that is) and that we should berate ourselves for it.
Map Point. For what reasons do I put myself down?