We need self-compassion for the insecure people in our lives. For years, patients have come in to see my freaked out by unforeseen flaws and shortcomings. Upon further inspection, we often discover that these new attributes are those carried by their friends. This is what happens with our insecure friends. Life causes them anxiety, and because they lack the security to self-soothe, they need to get rid of these worries by projecting them on to us. Sometimes, they give us these disempowering characteristics because it makes them feel empowered or needed.
I imagine that you are flashing back to old friendships, old discussions, painful criticisms that you carried, and perhaps still carry. Maybe you are thinking of a recent discussion with a current friend. The important thing is that you are able to see that these people do not do these things on purpose, but rather unconsciously to protect themselves. It is equally important that you are able to unload these burdensome characterizations, which might be frustrating if you have been trying to correct them for some time.
A Portrait Of An Insecure Interaction
Let me paint a picture to make this process a little more tangible for you. You are having an innocent conversation with a friend, and happen to mention that you had an argument with your boyfriend/girlfriend. They respond by saying, “I don’t know why you are such a doormat. It’s never going to get you anywhere.” And poof, just like that, you start to doubt yourself. You think about whether you really do lie down for your relational partners, and give in to their wants. It had never occurred to you before, but this is a good friend. Why would they say something like that, if it was not true? The answer is that they would say something like that if they were feeling anxious, lonely, or unhappy in their own relationship.
Self-Compassion For The Insecure Friend
Despite how tempting it would be to validate our friends’ insights to make them feel less anxious or more worthy, you would actually be doing them a disservice. People need to be given the opportunity to resolve their own problems. So, how can we deal with this insecure behavior self-compassionately? If you are aware of what is happening in the moment, simply acknowledge your friend’s attempt to help you, and help direct their behavior in an affirming way. Thank you for hearing me out. I think it is the listening that helps so much. Do not worry about me. I am just venting. It is actually better to ignore their mischaracterization (unless they really push it on you), so that you just reinforce the parts of their contributions that helped you. Remember, what you reward, people will move toward. What you ignore will happen no more.
If the harm has been done and your friend is long gone, then imagine their words, feelings, and thoughts. Take out a box, and neatly package these things inside, making sure to tie a bow around it, so that nothing falls out. Then, imagine giving it back to your friend. They are, after all, things that belong to your friend, and best solved in their capable hands. Then, give yourself permission to let these things go, and do something really kind for yourself. The experience may not be enjoyable, but it will be a teachable one, and the more we are able to forgive them, the better we will be able to forgive ourselves in the future.
365 Days Of Self-Compassion. Day 258. In The Books.