Sometimes we become used to people treating us badly. We may believe these people are our friends and family, who know us more than anyone else, so they are allowed to drop a negative comment or point out our flaws once in a while.
The moment when we try to grow and improve ourselves, these relationships get tested. And unfortunately, it often turns out that people who we thought were our friends, don’t want to support our happiness and development. Instead, they become cynical and negative, when we try to change our lives for the better.
As we try to heal our self-esteem, these people may double their efforts in bringing us down to “reality”. They will point out all your flaws and mistakes, very innocently explaining that you need to know them in order to improve. If you open your heart and share your dream with them, they will find a way to laugh at it, making it seem absurd or impossible.
Why does it happen?
The truth is, people with low self-esteem feel very comfortable around other people with low-self esteem. Once you start healing, they become afraid that you will not want them anymore. Or that you will be better and happier than them, that you will become not like them.
By bringing you down, they are being selfish. They protect their comfort. Because not only they will lose your company, if you heal, but they will also have to face the fact that they are broken. Many people want to stay broken, because healing is difficult, painful and uncertain. So they console themselves by sticking with people like them, because they look fine in their company.
And here you are – trying to burst their bubble and get them out of their comfort zone.
What to do?
It’s always good to start with an honest and open conversation. Express that you are hurt by what these people tell you or how they act. Tell them that you want to remain friends, but it is only possible if they support you. See what happens next.
It can be that your friend (or relative) will agree to honor your request. Check how they treat you later – if the negativity stopped and never returned – hooray, you have a real friend next to you.
If during the conversation they agreed to everything you said and promised to stop their attacks, but in reality the situation didn’t change – you have to start cutting this relationship off.
As sad as it sounds, that person is not your real friend and you will not be able to heal yourself while they are present in your life. Healing is a difficult and long-term process, so you need a support crew, not an extra obstacle.
Gather your courage and leave the room or drop the call, once they say something nasty again. If you are family members living together, realize that you need to find ways to move out in order to heal. The further is the distance to that person, the better.
There is no other way to handle this situation. No magic pill or technique that will make them change. And there is no special protective shield that you can wear around them to stop their words affecting you.
If you already need healing and your self-esteem is low, you can’t afford to fight them. And the truth is, even a person with a healthy self-esteem can’t stay around these negative people for a long time safely. The only form of protection is distance.
The next step would be to find people who can really support you, of course. It may take some time, but even if you don’t have anyone like that in your life for the time being, it’s still better than staying in the circle of people who bring you down.