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Hurting Other People’s Feelings

For most people, and especially I believe most Southerners, “Thou shalt not hurt thy neighbor’s feelings” is right up there with the Ten Commandments, except higher. They would much more freely admit to lying, coveting and idolizing than to saying or doing something they knew would hurt someone’s feelings.

The problem is that the truth hurts, especially the truth that sets us free from illusions and bad habits. So who is a good enough friend to bruise our ego, and hurt our feelings with the truth we need but do not want?

Sure a good friend is one who helps you out (a do-good friend), one who compliments you (a feel-good friend), and one who makes time for you and includes you in things (a good-times friend). These are all signs of a good friend, and we all need friends like this.

But these things are rather easy to give. You know the friend will like it, and will be more likely to make you happy by doing you the return favor down the road.

Now here are eight things a really good friend would say to you, and you, if you were a true-blue good friend, would say to them. Score yourself and your friend zero to ten to see how good a friend you both are to each other. I’d say 6 to 8 is a true blue, honest-to-goodness friend, and 0 to 2, though perhaps a do-good, feel-good, or good-times friend, is also a false-front friend.

1. If you my friend are doing something you have admitted to me isn’t good for you, something like drug/alcohol abuse or an eating or spending disorder, but you go on acting like there’s nothing wrong with it now, I’m going to tell you it confuses and concerns me, and ask you what’s up.

2. If you my friend are enabling one of your loved ones to destroy his or her life with a bad habit like those in the previous paragraph, and you are excusing, funding, provoking or covering up the loved one’s bad habits, but you act like nothing’s wrong, I’m going to tell you it confuses and concerns me, and ask you what’s up.

3. If you my friend have done something to insult me to my face but haven’t apologized for it, something you would certainly expect me to apologize for doing to you, but you act like nothing’s wrong, I’m going to tell you it confuses and concerns me, and ask you what’s up.

4. If you my friend have done something to insult one of your loved ones (child, spouse, close friend) to their face but haven’t apologized for it, something you would certainly expect someone in your position to apologize for doing to you, but you act like nothing’s wrong, I’m going to tell you it confuses and concerns me, and ask you what’s up.

5. If you my friend have cursed or degraded someone or something you know I hold dear (like taking God’s name in vain, or saying my best friend is no good), but you act like nothing’s wrong, I’m going to tell you it confuses and concerns me, and ask you what’s up.

6. If you my friend have left me out of a social event you know I would have loved to attend, inviting my friends while not inviting me and yet acting like nothing’s wrong, I’m going to tell you it confuses and concerns me, and ask you what’s up.

7. If you my friend have been confirmed for saying to someone else something that is critical of me but which you have never said to my face, yet you act like nothing’s wrong, I’m going to tell you it confuses and concerns me, and ask you what’s up.

8. If you my friend have obviously bad breath, or you have obvious food on your clothes, mouth or teeth, but you act like nothing’s wrong, I’m going to tell you about it.

So do you have a true-blue friend, and are you an honest-to-goodness friend for someone? If you don’t have a true-blue friend, and you aren’t one to anybody else, I’ll be the friend who tells you that you aren’t being a very good friend to yourself either.

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About Dr. Paul Schmidt, PhD

Dr. Paul Schmidt, PhD is a psychologist life coach with offices in Louisville and Shelbyville, KY, 502 633 2860.