“Our difficulties are largely due to confused ideas and ignorance of our true interests.” – Charles Haanel, MK-2 Introduction
Some weeks I can hardly type fast enough to keep up with my thoughts. Other weeks, I wonder what in heck I’m supposed to write about. My mind is blank, no ideas occur, nothing worthy of recording strikes like a bolt from the blue.
That was this week. I did my reads – not completely faithfully, I admit. I worked on my sits – and keeping my mind blank for more than a second or so is hard, hard work. All the while I searched. What tidbit could I offer this week? What part of my experience might be viewed as useful? What significant insight would be mine?
My first thought was What absolute self-pitying garbage! I checked the comments, just to see. Some comments tracked with what I was thinking. And some of these folks I seriously wanted to Gibbs-slap and shout at them to get over themselves. That the only thing making them into ‘that friend’ was themselves, their decisions. That they were choosing a victim mentality (voluntarily, yet!) and if they truly wanted to see the author of 99% of their problems they had only to look in the mirror. And by believing themselves to be ‘that friend,’ they hide their own light, their own unique talent, from the world… and the world is poorer as a result.
But from the point of view of ‘that friend,’ everything I said is just words. They won’t accept a scold, they don’t give real credence to the idea of personal responsibility – everything is always someone else’s fault. Their parents, their siblings, their friends, their enemies. Their medical issues, their weight, their financial circumstances, their economic background. Their childhood. And never once do they look inside themselves for answers, check their tone of voice when they talk to people, ask themselves about their own behavior and what they might be doing that leads to other people treating them like ‘that friend,’ or even why they don’t search out better friends. And I know.
Because ‘that friend’ used to be me. I had one person willing to call themselves my friend in the latter years of high school. I was never invited to dances or parties, even if I wanted to go. I was always on the outside of conversations, events, groups, just hovering and hoping to be noticed. And for years I took the way my peers treated me as license to feel sorry for myself, to tell myself stories inside my head about what the people that hurt me were thinking, feeling, believing… which in turn justified my personal pity party and growing resentment of them.
What people forget – what they might not even know – is that feeling like that, thinking in that fashion, is both choice and habit. It’s habit in the sense that we react the way we’ve always reacted, because we’ve conditioned ourselves to react that way. It’s choice in the sense that we don’t have to react in that knee-jerk fashion. We created the habits over time with the way we chose to feel, what we chose to think… and most of all with the stories we told ourselves inside our heads about the reasons we were being treated like ‘that friend,’ stories that might not even resemble reality. And we can choose to change our habits of thought and reaction the same way we developed the first ones.
Because that is our great power. We decide what to think. We decide what we feel about a conversation, an encounter, an incident. We choose the story we tell ourselves, in the darkness behind our eyes. We can say, “oh, wow, I just got interrupted again – I guess they’re really excited about what they’re saying and they don’t realize I’m just as excited about my thoughts.” And then we can choose to repeat what we were saying, or just let it go. We can tell ourselves either, “they must really think I’m worthless, they always keep going when I ask them to wait for me,” or we can ask them, “hey, didn’t you hear me? I asked you guys to hold up a second.” We can ask ourselves, “why is it so important to me that I don’t feel left out by these people? Am I really being left out, or have I behaved in such a way that people think I’m not interested in this sort of outing? If I am being deliberately left out… then why am I so desperate to be hanging out with these particular people that I would put up with this?” Suddenly the same event ends up with a whole different connotation, simply because of the filter we choose to look at the world through.
Even people who are ‘that friend’ don’t have to be ‘that friend…’ unless secretly, deep down, they choose to wear those particular chains, addicted to feeling sorry for themselves.
Because it all comes down to choice, confused ideas, and ignorance of true interests. Define who you are. Define what you want. And then wake up and employ the slumbering guardian of your subconscious mind so that the only thoughts about your friendships, your goals, your life, are the ones you want inside your head.
I didn’t have to be ‘that friend.’ You don’t, either.