Friday, June 06, 2008

Friendship and Selfesteem


What are the connections between friendship and selfesteem? They are many and important. It requires a certain minimum or modicum of selfesteem to maintain a lasting friendship. Even to form a healthy friendship requires at least some healthy selfesteem.

For if you believe, "I really do not deserve a friendship with this fine person, for I am unworthy," then, you begin a subconscious search for an "escape" from the friendship. You might, in borderline paranoia, examine emails for "hidden motives," or even for "attacks," where clearly, none is intended. You might, in an extension of illness, confuse mistakes with deliberate attacks against you.

Secretly, you might want to "attack before you are attacked." You are really seeking an "escape hatch" to permit you to exit the friendship before your "inadequacies" are discovered or revealed.

An astonishing number of even very "successful" people suffer from this absence of positive selfesteem. They often try to hide, or cover, it with professional success, but, deep down, the fires of selfloathing cannot be quenched. They sometimes try to remain "super-busy," so that they do not see this uncomfortable fact about themselves, but, again, deep down, they know the facts about their own selfrejection and selfcondemnation.

They are not "evil." They are not "inadequate" or "unworthy," but their internal programs that they are continue to run like a taped program that plays itself over and over again. They simply cannot "get comfortable" in a healthy relationship with a healthy person. In fact, they resent the mental, emotional, or spiritual health of those who are successful at interpersonal relationships (friendships). In time, subconsciously, they become "anti-friendship." They start to see friendship, a form of Love-- the human being's best friend-- as the "enemy." They begin to hate friendship (Love) because they are too dysfunctional to handle it.

Bonding in friendship with a selfloathing person is almost imppossible; and she herself guarantees that any bonds will never last very long. For she sabotages the friendship by continually expecting to be betrayed or abandoned. So, low selfesteem is made much worse by a terror of abandonment. (This often originates within the "interior child," the part of the mind that stopped growing at about age six.)

A person with healthy selfesteem will quickly forgive if her friend makes a mistake. But a person who is selfloathing will demand "perfection" from friends: No mistakes are allowed. (This is part of her pathology or illness.)

Human beings, because we are human beings, always make mistakes. The healthy person will not make a big deal about any mistake that her friends might make. She will not act in an alarmist fashion, as if a mistake means "the forever end of our friendship," or as if a mistake justifies an attitude of "war" with the former friend. The healthy person will kindly, warmly, and sincerely forgive any mistakes, and then, continue on with the friendship. For the mentally healthy, friendship is more important than mistakes; but for the mentally or emotionally ill, mistakes are more important, and powerful, than friendships. People of terrible selfesteem will hang on for dear life to any mistake, and will blow it up to immense proportions, never letting it "slide," and never forgetting, or forgiving.

For forgiveness is the response of a healthy mind; an unhealthy mind might well be too sick to practice forgiveness. Any mistake, in the unwell, unhealthy mind is the "end of the friendship," if not "of the world"! For inflating a mistake, and making it the center of the interaction with another, is a mark of mental illness.

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