When a friend or family member seems upset or angry, do you worry that you might somehow be the cause of their pain? What have I done to upset them? Did I say the wrong thing?
How often do you actually ask the person if you’ve done anything wrong? If a friend is a little cold on the phone, do you worry that they are angry with you about something? Do you try to find another excuse to ring or text them in an attempt to make sure you’re in the clear? What happens to your self-esteem with all this worry about causing offence? Does it plummet until you get some kind of reassurance that they are not mad at you?
In more cases than not, your partner, friend or family member is not upset with you at all. They are simply having a bad day or they have something quite serious going on and you are the furthest thing from their mind. If you ask if you’ve done anything to upset them, then they have to reassure you that it’s nothing to do with you and explain what’s on their mind. Think about this for a moment … They are stressed and they have to make sure that you’re okay – so it’s not great for them. Even worse, it’s not good for you. That’s because the reassurance you get is addictive and you’ll find that you have to always check to see if you’ve done anything wrong. Constantly seeking reassurance is detrimental to your self-esteem.
What’s the answer? Take yourself out of the equation completely. Assume you’re innocent unless proven guilty. Have empathy for your friend. Ask them if they’re okay. Offer to listen if they feel like talking. Make it about them instead of you and not only will you be a better friend or partner, but you will also protect your self-esteem.