When a best friend or family member is doing something you know and feel in your heart isn’t right, do you tell them?
Or what if it’s something less deep than that, like your friend is wearing something very unflattering and asks your opinion. And you want to tell them the truth but don’t know if they’ll really want to hear it.
Nobody likes to be told they’re fat.
Nobody likes to be told they’re doing something wrong or potentially hurtful to themselves or others.
People like to think they know what they’re doing, that they’re capable mature adults who don’t need advice or interventions or other people’s opinions. And that anyone laying that on them is a meddling bastard. That ‘said’ meddling bastard needs to be shut out and away from their special perfect bubble of perfection. Because they can do no wrong and how dare someone tell them otherwise.
So without meaning to I, just yesterday, was in situation just like this. I advised and discussed with a friend something that I knew would be unpleasant to say, let alone hear.
And whilst, at first, after the initial shock from my friend had subsided, they seemed to take it well and even thanked me for speaking up. I felt scared that I’d hurt them and crossed a line, but they stilled my fears. We had a great day out. They went home and then a few hours later, I got a message on Facebook that made me sick to my stomach. They’d changed their mind completely and instead of saying that I’d done the right thing, that they were grateful and glad I’d said it, in the message they said that they felt I was judging them and that I shouldn’t have said it. That I was very direct and insensitive. It was a complete flip on its ass and I almost flipped on my own ass from the shock.
What had happened?
And to add insult to injury, I was told by those close to me that there was truth in what my friend had said. That I am direct and I am insensitive.
That kept me up all night wondering why I don’t see it myself, and don’t know when I’m talking that way. Because my intentions were good and out of love. But what difference does that make when all it does is hurt people? Why bother?
I said something that people don’t say to others and instead of it being viewed as what it was–genuine concern for a friend and confusion as to why things they do now, they didn’t and wouldn’t do before–my words have been taken as insensitive, direct, holier than thou (not all of those were just from my friend).
It hurts more because I have been told more than once that I have a knack for giving advice and support. That I’m caring and a great friend. That my honesty is considerate and needed. That they like how I don’t say things just to please them. Because that’s not me. I mean sure, fine, I do say things just to be polite and big someone up, but when it would do the opposite of helping that person, maybe even cause them harm if I kept silent or lied and spilled pleasantries out through my teeth, then I can’t resist. I feel compelled to say something as a loyal friend, companion, relative.
Even if they don’t want to hear it.
Even if no one else would say it. Because they don’t have the balls to, or they’re just smarter than I am.
I’m thinking now that it’s probably the latter.
Giving advice when asked is something else entirely and if someone needs me, I’m there. If I can help someone, I will try my damned hardest. But for things that aren’t asked for, whether it is true or not, whether it may help them or not… Eh. It’s not worth it.
I’ve lost a friendship because of it.
This post when first writing it was to almost glorify the ability to speak up, in aid of someone you care about. To not talk behind their back between other people, but to tell them directly and with care. Without tattling on others too.
But now, after accidentally doing what this post was about, Ive decided that unless you’re renowned for being tactful, sensitive and a god of words, don’t bother talking to people about awkward subjects. Don’t tell them they’re doing something wrong, no matter how you dress it, no matter what your intentions or whether they, deep down, know you’re right. Even if you do the right thing and say the right thing in the right way, many people will still lash out at you. If they feel guilty, angry, hurt, they’ll take it out on you. You may have done your bit, however badly and directly, but it’ll probably cost you. And you need to ask yourself, is it really worth it?
Well, I have to say in my case? Nope. Wasn’t worth it. I made them feel shitty and myself, even shittier.
It’s up to you now. Don’t ask me. I’m the worst person to give advice on this. Obviously.
*rips open tub of icecream*
There goes my fitness regime.