I am not sure if you have noticed, but we tend to give on point advice to our friends about their problems (or so we believe). We often strongly feel about what a friend should or should not do when they vent about their unreasonable partner. When they don’t agree with our perspective, we feel so uneasy inside as to why they don’t get it. The correct course of action is quite obvious, after all.
With a slight twist, consider you are having an issue and the person giving you advice is actually you (of course your friends and family are bombarding you with advice but who cares, right?). Will your course of action be the same as what you would have advised your friend? Also, will the answer to your problem be so obvious that you don’t have to think twice? Based on my humble experience as a human, I will predict that maybe not.
I recently read an interesting rule when it comes to people by Richard Templar; it’s that people will only believe what they want to believe. He discusses that people first acquire their belief based on their personal experiences and intuitions and then search for the facts or logic that support it. That is why it is so hard to convince a person with an opposing view, even if you have all the facts to back it up. They will only change their mind if they lived the opposing experience themselves.
You are one of those people, when you listen to your friend’s problem from a third person point of view, you are likely to process information rationally. However, when the person in trouble is you, what you process intellectually for other people you cannot easily relate to your own problem. Unlike your knowledge of your friend’s dilemma which is limited to what they share with you, you are provided with all the details and granularity of your own situation. You can mix and match its little parts to support what you hope to be the right answer. If you want to stay with your toxic partner, you will synthesize the right argument for it. That argument will convince you, make you feel good about your decision, and keep your friends’ advice irrelevant as “there is a lot they don’t know”. Only you know those little adorable moments you have. Your dilemma is unique and therefore the advice you gave your friend, although useful for their relation, doesn’t apply to yours.
Why aren’t we able to grasp the big picture of our situation without falling into the trap of its narrow mazes? Do these mazes change the highlight of what is really going on? Relationship expert Matthew Hussey says the confusion is related to our own self worth. When you don’t value yourself enough, you will settle for less than the ideal treatment as deep down you don’t believe you can get better. You catch your boyfriend with the occasional lie, and you convince yourself that those are white lies that don’t count as betrayal, even though you will urge your sister to put her foot down if she had the same encounter. You’d be worried he’s a liar that doesn’t deserve her, but for some reason your boyfriend deserves you even if he lies. You must value your sister more than you value yourself.
Why do we often have low self worth?
“If we wish to take care of ourselves properly, we would have to respect ourselves—but we don’t, because we are—not least in our own eyes—fallen creatures.” 12 Rules for Life, Jordan Peterson.
Jordan Peterson’s theory is that we are so aware of our faults, whether they are real or made up in our mind, that we feel ashamed and doubtful of our worth. We become embarrassed of ourselves due to those faults we supposedly have that we downgrade our value, and hence not apply on ourselves the same standards we want for others. When your partner hides stuff from you and you don’t draw the line, it’s because this is what you’re worth to yourself, they are failing to offend you.
If you want to break the pattern, forget what would give you expedient comfort and happiness, because that does not equate what is actually good for you. Instead, ask yourself, if your friend lived a day in your life, what wouldn’t they put up with? Or if they came to you with some of your own problems, what would your on top-of-your-head advice be? Trust your first answer. As more often than not, the details you use as excuses don’t matter as much. Nobody’s awesomeness makes up for devaluing you. Once you let it do so, you enter the vicious cycle of excusing disrespect in order to postpone suffering. Eventually, not breaking this cycle will lead your partner to do something excruciatingly painful that you are forced to break free with a huge price which you pay off from your time and emotions. You either learn to raise the bar, or repeat the same pattern until further notice.
You are someone’s friend, sibling, and child. You are worth a lot to the people you love. Fight for what they want for you; it is the same thing you want for them.