My family belongs to an elite part of society. As a result, I sometimes have trouble making and keeping friends. Everyone wants to be around me because of my family. As thankful as I should be, it makes me angry too. Strangely, around my birthday, I always have more people hovering around me and I end up feeling hurt as I know it has nothing to do with me. They just want to be invited to the parties my parents force me to have. I’m very happy that this year I can use COVID-19 to shield myself from this. But it isn’t a solution. Should I tell these people off or ignore them? I really don’t want to appear very rude too. Let me know. Thanks.
Thank you for your email and for sharing your predicament with me. I am so sorry that you are currently having trouble finding true friendship. I bet it must be very difficult to always be polite, proper, and well-conducted due to your background. The fact that you still care about people and don’t want to hurt their feelings is a good indicator that you are a sensitive, humble and genuine individual. Hats off to you for not letting your family’s status make you arrogant.
It is often quite obvious from people’s interactions, what their motive is. You might get a certain vibe from people on who genuinely care about you and who are your fair-weather friends. Spend time with people who encourage you and not only ask about your family’s tales.
It is also perfectly alright to distance yourself from people who don’t appreciate or value you for being you! Anyone who brings you down isn’t worth being around. Be with people who make you feel like sunshine everyday and who brighten your days during gloomy weather.
Finding true friendship is tough, irrespective of one’s status. More than looking out for true friendship, focus on being a good friend and you will be able to choose who will have your back in tough times and help you to be better.
You can choose to ignore those who want to be around only for the limelight or you can be cordial but careful not let them in too close. Having a few close friends is way better than having a big group of fake friends. You live, you learn! And so far, you’re doing great. Enjoy your birthday.
My boyfriend and I have been dating for seven months. We talk about different things and get along very well. The only thing that bothers me is that whenever he is feeling low, if he shares what is troubling him and I give him suggestions or advice, he gets more irritated or angry and sometimes doesn’t want to discuss it further. I feel like he isn’t sharing as many things with me now and that he probably doesn’t trust my opinion about things. What should I do?
Thank you for writing in. It is nice to know that your boyfriend and you spend time talking about various things. Paul Tillich once wrote, ‘The first duty of love is to listen.’ Most often, when any person shares their troubles or difficulties with us, our first instinct is to dive right in to give some advice, share our take on the situation, or do everything in our power to make things better. However, as noble as our intentions are when we do this, we often send a message that we do not believe the person is capable of dealing with the situation on their own or can make the right decision.
Most people are well equipped to solve their own problems. What lacks in the equation is not having anyone to hear them out when they want to think out loud or support them when they are feeling so overwhelmed.
Your boyfriend doesn’t need you to tell him what to do because he already knows what has to be done. All he needs is to know and feel that he doesn’t have to face them alone. If you really want to help, you can be a patient listener, lend your shoulder for him to cry on, give him a hug to remind him that he isn’t alone and praise him for being strong and courageous through it all. Offer your suggestions only if he asks you for it or seems absolutely lost or confused.
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Until next time, be kind.
(The columnist is a psychologist and counsellor, currently working as a school counsellor.)