Life-Love 50: When a friend tells you the truth about yourself

Most people will usually simply let you be. They aren’t invested in your life and don’t really care about whether you’re happy, growing or, for that matter, making a mess of things. I was walking in light rain on a unseasonably warm night on New Year’s Day in 2011 when it occurred to me that we rarely know the truth about ourselves. It really takes someone else to interpret our lives and tell us what’s real and what is fantasy. Often, we can be caught up in what we think is real – we allow the world of our imagination get the better of us and start living in a dream, but in a bad way. This can happen in a relationship, when we don’t see that someone else is taking advantage, or being abusive. It can happen at work, when we don’t realise that others are benefiting from our time and effort spent, rewarding us with empty compliments while taking credit for our accomplishments when we are no longer there. Sometimes the second reality that we’re living in is of our own creation – we are being too hard on ourselves or, on the flip side, have develop too high an impression of our own worth. Second reality thinking is so easy to fall into – we tell ourselves stories every day, we see and hear little dramas play out all the time: on tv, around the water cooler, on the news and even in the lives of our friends. It isn’t hard to weave a fantasy world for ourselves – a second reality tailored to fit our anxieties, our insecurities and the things that make us sad and angry. A friend is someone who cuts through the second reality you’ve created and tells you the often brutal truth. It isn’t pleasant, it can make you very angry, but it is also something that pushes you back into the real world. This can be a cold and challenging place – a disconcerting and frustrating place – but reality is the only place where you and your actions really matter. A friend who pulls you back into reality, no matter how annoying, is a true friend indeed.

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