Ever sat down and wondered what you could have done differently to solve an issue with a friend? Have you wished that you didn’t react the way you did to a friend that hurt you? Are you one of those people who wished they didn’t get hurt so easily or be so sensitive? It’s difficult, isn’t it - To maintain healthy relationships with friends and simultaneously regulate your emotions for whatever actions and consequences you experience.
You are not alone in this. The majority of friendships are altered or ended due to the lack of better ways to deal with their concerns.
Before we maintain relationships with others in general, it is important to understand the kind of relationship we have with ourselves. More than the other person’s actions, statements and intent, it is our interpretation of what the other person has done that affects or influences us.
Take any recent example - where it had hurt you that a friend of yours said something hurtful. In at least 5 out of 10 such situations, there is a great possibility of you not feeling hurt with what your friend has done if you took it in a different way.
In Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, therapists focus on restructuring the thought process to adapt better behaviour in any challenging situations.
Sometimes, our human tendency to magnify or maximise the incidents we experience due to our expectations. When we anticipate certain actions from someone in any circumstance, we create an expectation either consciously or subconsciously of our anticipation turning into reality. However, these expectations can be based on biased opinions, previous experiences or our insecurities or fears sometimes. This makes these expectations have a possible irrationality and idealisation to them.
Sometimes our expectations are mirrored on to others based on what we would do in such situations. It is important to realise that every individual is unique and all of us have different ways of going about with presented situations.
Trying to introspect, acknowledge, understand and address our expectations will help in forming more realistic, grounded and rational ones in the future. This curbs many such incidents that could have hurt you because of your own expectations of others’ behaviour.
Behaviour is tricky to understand, be it others or even ourselves. To survive in such a fast-moving world, we humans often try to decode patterns of behaviour and predict future actions of others. However, this is not very helpful for us in some situations where social relationships are involved.
Try to reflect on this with me: have you ever taken a step back from forming new friendships or romantic relationships because you have been hurt in the past? We often try to generalize behaviour, specifically in our interpersonal connections because we are constantly predicting human behaviour. This might land us in situations where we look at potential relationships with new people with a tinted glass which is based on our preemptions from previous relationships with others.
Here’s a quick way to deal with your feelings from an unpleasant conversation with a friend
What my friend say/did
My thoughts about what my friend say/did
How else can I interpret this situation?
What could have been the reason for their behaviour?
What am I feeling right now?
How do I deal with my feelings?
Ways to deal with feelings:
Try to look at the situation from multiple perspectives
Understand ‘why’ you are feeling this way.
Use distractions like maintaining a journal, going on a walk, listening to music or watching television etc.
Do things that make you feel relaxed and better.
Communicate with your friend about your feelings with compassion.
Try to draw healthy boundaries with friends to avoid unnecessary unpleasant situations.
Know what kind of friendships are worthwhile and helpful in your personal growth and maintain them well.
Reconcile with your friend by doing a favourite activity you both enjoy.
Distance yourself from friendships that leave you with ‘heavy’ feelings and sadness.