I have a friend, someone I've known for many (frog) years. Recently, my friend began a new friendship with someone who wasn't known to me previously. During the past few months, I've gotten to know this "new friend" pretty well. Honestly, I don't like what I'm seeing, but it isn't up to me to decide who my friend's friends are. For the most part, I am taking a wait-and-see attitude and keeping my mouth shut. The biggest problem, however, is the way this new friend treats me. She constantly looks for ways to make me feel inferior; as if her friendship is more important than mine. This really irked me, at first. But then I remembered a wonderful quote from Mrs. Rooservelt, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." But there are always others out there who are going to try, like my friend's new lady frog. So why do others, both frogs AND humans, try to make us feel bad...what's in it for them?
At fist glance, it may seem like the insults, snubs, and harsh words are being hurled as us in an attempt to cut us down. And, in a way, they. Some of these insults, we can brush off. Others, will stay with us for years. Insults tap into a defensive vein, sometimes with ill affects. Long after the insult has occurred, and been forgotten about by everyone except us, we're still working hard to prove them wrong. Oftentimes, this comes off as arrogance and boastfulness. Fortunately, most frogs and humans, don't go around flinging hurtful remarks. But those that do, can be linked to a narcissist personality trait. Those with this trait tend to see themselves as being better than the rest of us; they have a real sense of entitlement. They spend a great deal of time "polishing up their image" and believe themselves to be the center of the universe. And they lack empathy. They pronounce judgement on those they perceive as inferior...which is nearly everyone. We've all had the misfortune of running into these characters. They're pretty easy to spot. And, when we can, we avoid them like the plaque.
What about the ones that are less than overt? The ones who see themselves as victims and lash out because they lack self-esteem? That's the kind I'm currently dealing with. They aren't any less hurtful, that's for sure, but their true intention isn't to hurt us as much as it is to make themselves feel better. By pointing out all of our flaws and mistakes, it make them look good in comparison. Or so they think. Usually, though, what happens is they come across as a little pathetic and needy. Their motives are more transparent than they think.
I try to spend as little time as possible with my friend's new friend. And I constantly have to remind myself that she has issues and deserves my compassion. That's really tough for me to do, I'll admit it. I am, like all of us, a work in progress. But on some level, I know that if she felt good about about herself and truly loved herself, she wouldn't have the need to try and make me feel or look bad. Over the past couple of months, she's learned how to push all of my buttons. And she's become quite adept at it. Practice makes perfect, as they say, and she's getting in loads of it...at every possible opportunity. All I can do, at this point, is to put a little tape over my buttons making them harder to push. Too, I can avoid her whenever possible and when I must have contact with her, I can try and be as nice as I can.
As for my friend, I am hopeful that after all our years together, he's learned that my friendship is true and I'm not planning on going anyway. I can't change what is. I can only change how I view the situation; I won't feel inferior, I won't feel vitimized, and I won't let my often-hurt feelings get in the way of a friendship that I deeply treasure. But, most importantly, I don't need her validation to feel good. That is something that has to come from within and is never dependent on another.
Thanks, Eleanor, for the reminder.