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July 11, 2022

From Death to Politics: How to have Hard Conversations with Our Friends.

 

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It’s really easy to choose to ignore things that are difficult.

Difficult people, difficult topics, and difficult activities. Avoidance is the easy way out.

I’ve been told that I was exhausting, and I’ve been told that I was a breath of fresh air. We try so hard to please others and to be liked. We silence ourselves out of fear, and we often find ourselves living in a sense of complacency because it doesn’t rock the boat.

I’ve been lucky to have friends who I could share my pain with and know that they would be there no matter what, and I have also had friends who couldn’t communicate and thought distancing themselves from me was easier than addressing issues.

There are often times where I find myself thinking that I don’t need friends. And there are other times that I find myself aching to share myself with anyone who will listen.

The bottom line is that we should have friends who we can have hard conversations with—real friends.

In a polarized society, we may see someone as negative when they don’t share our point of view or combat our beliefs. However, it is a gift to have friends who challenge us rather than nod their heads in fear of rebuttal.

When I was dealing with the passing of loved ones, certain friends would wince if I brought it up. Maybe they wanted me to be happy and move on, but it was a challenging time and that happiness comes with healing. Now, in the politicized climate that we live in, we may have noticed that friends will scour if we challenge their point of view. Most of us have just shut up so that we don’t create animosity. But I see it differently.

If you can’t be honest with your friends then who can you be honest with? Let me get this straight, I’m not talking about co-workers, acquaintances, neighbors—I’m talking about your few and far between.

In order to wake up out of a messy situation with an unavailable man, a true friend of mine had to look me in the eye (over FaceTime) and tell me what I was doing wrong and that I needed to stop once and for all. Most people will let us play the victim, and this is not healthy. We are in control even when we don’t feel like we are in control, and if it wasn’t for my friend hitting me with reality, I may have never faced it at all.

I expect the same when it comes to politics. Sure, it’s touchy. But this isn’t about your feelings—it’s about logic. Politicians have used technological platforms to oversimplify complex issues and narrow them down to one or two lines that hit a soft spot. Usually, we are being lied to. And I see this on both sides. Maybe you are the friend that has to come to terms with the fact that you are being lied to by our Representatives, as I was by another man.

If we cannot sit down and have these conversations with our friends, then who can we have them with after all? It’s not about changing minds, but it is about dealing with the daunting aspects of everyday life.

Maybe your friend wants you to just have fun, laugh, and drink with them. Well, that’s cool. But, get real with yourself. That’s an acquaintance.

The world may seem tougher as we are more aware, but it actually puts most of our tribulations into perspective. And having a different perspective will open awareness after all.

How do we have hard conversations with friends?

Be honest. We shouldn’t have to lie to our friends. If we find ourselves covering something up, we should ask ourselves why.

Be compassionate. It may be you that is being selfish. We all draw our opinions from personal experiences, and some of those may be so downtrodden that it’s unimaginable to correlate. Remember that it’s not all about you and try to empathize as best as you can.

Don’t look at it as a debate. If you are putting your thoughts out there, expect a response. Otherwise, just keep them to yourselves. If you don’t want to be challenged, you can join the silent crew, but if you want to learn and transform as an individual then take the heat with a grain of salt. And maybe your friend is just trying to be real with you, because after all—isn’t that what friends are for?

Witness your own hypocrisy. Maybe you don’t understand why someone can be so selfish, but you are being selfish by being so relentless and incapable of understanding. Try not to think using your emotions, and wait until you calm down so logic can take the wheels.

If your friend doesn’t take hard conversations, it doesn’t mean that you have to drop them. Maybe your friend needs more love to get to that point. Maybe you both do. Be gentle. And if you’re a screaming b*tch—a real friend will get you.

~

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