Saturday, April 29, 2006

Can you handle the truth?

Do you think people want to know the truth about themselves? Do you think people can handle it? And, do you think it will lead to change or to hard feelings?

As a counsellor, it is my job to tell people what they need to do to deal with their problems. Yes, much of my job is about listening. But if all I do is listen, I'm not really helping them. It's about guiding them and "helping" them discover (read: telling them) what they need to do to change the situation. I'm no good if I don't do that. I hear the same thing over and over from people and occaisionally, I have to say "STOP. Stop talking about it and deal with it. Either do something or stop talking about it." Sometimes it's what people need to hear.

Ky and I have a continued debate as to whether or not friends should be able to do the same thing. Whether or not friends can tell each other the truth about themselves so they can work on making themselves better people. She says yes. I say, this probably should be true, but it's not likely going to work. Maybe how I approach it is faulty. I'm a blunt, BLUNT, BLUNT person. Sometimes, that's not helpful. However, I always feel fake when I tip-toe around the subject of anything and I usually (read: always) say the wrong thing. I don't want hurt feelings in my friends. I don't want to "social work" them to death - unless they ask. So, at what point am I trying to be a good friend or trying to avoid the whole issue?

Do I want to hear the truth? Maybe. But, again, probably not. I hate being wrong. I hate acting wrong. I hate being less than the person I want to be. I hate being a disappointment. I know I can be wrong. It drives me crazy. And, I don't react well to knowing that other people have spotted it too. For me, someone telling me about something I have done makes me embarrassed and then I get angry that I did it and react to that person poorly. Who am I to do that to someone else?

In my job, it's expected and even necessary. In my friendships? There are some people I can tell the truth no matter what, no matter how blunt, no matter if they want to hear it and they can do the same for me. For other friendships though? Not as much. So, does the fault lie in me, the other person, or the friendship itself?

(I've been thinking a lot about friendship vs counselling of late... This is me processing.)

10 comments:

  1. I love this Biblical phrase: "speaking the truth in love." As in "speaking the truth" but "in a loving way," referring to how we'll all grow into maturity together.

    It's something that I've been working on putting into practise. I have to say that it works on you: telling you the truth as I see it, but doing so in such a way as doesn't put you on the defensive. And also making sure that it's heavily balanced with things that build you up and encourage you. Or sometimes, I let you reach the conclusions that you need to reach (in my perception).

    However, in my interactions, I probably lean too heavily towards the "I don't want to put him/her on the defensive," and not heavily enough on the "This is a problem and I have to speak up."

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  2. I think I give some leeway. If a friend does something I think is stupid, I'm not going to be all over them immediately. But if it continues, then I might say something.

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  3. I'd say it really depends upon the person. Some people are willing to listen to what you'll say, and consider any advice in the spirt in which it was given. Others are easy to offend.

    I would prefer, on the whole, that people tell me the truth. Sometimes it drives me nuts trying to figure out what people are actually saying.

    Personally, I value the advice you've given me, and sometimes bluntness can be a good thing. If you spend your time trying to skirt the issue at hand, it can be hard to resolve it. Of course, I've been known to be a little blunt at times, too, so take that with a grain of salt.

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  4. Anyone who truly cares for someone else while care about there well being. As a friend sometimes we see things in a friend's life that are a source of concern. Things to consider:
    1) Be very cautious how you approach the topic. You'll do more good if you are viewed as someone for them rather than against them.
    2) A fool does not know they are a fool. Some people, no matter how much you beg, plead, state your case lovingly and clearly, will not see there is anything wrong in their life.
    3) A fool does not want to know they are a fool. Many people don't want to hear or admit they have made a bad choice.
    4) There are a lot of fools out there.

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  5. I'm a moron. I meant "while care about their well being". Really I know the difference.

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  6. I've been also looking at this from the other side, from the question in your title. Can I handle the difficult truth about myself? I don't know if I always can. When I'm depressed, I go seriously into avoidance mode. And I don't always like to be forced to face things I'm avoiding.

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  7. I don't know about you guys, but I'm perfect just the way I am.

    Don't worry though. I'll still point out all of your faults to you

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  8. I can always count on my lynniec for that.

    I'm totally with Matt. I WANT to be told the truth. Especially when I'm acting like a jerk or am wallowing in self-pity. If I don't know, I can't do anything about it.

    I think it's especially important to tell the truth if that person has indicated that they want to know what they're doing wrong and want to change it.

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  9. Maryanne:
    Sometimes, I don't want to speak the truth in love. I want to do it b/c I'm right and they are wrong.
    Also, it's nice to know you've worked your magic on me! I'm not the only one who "social works" people, it seems.

    Roger:
    I can totally see doing that too. Let them take some time to figure it out. But sometimes, the longer they do the harmful behaviour, the harder it is to get out of.

    Matt:
    I think people who want to know the truth are the exception.
    I agree issues need to be dealt with, I'm just never sure how to go about them.

    Janny:
    I think you are right on every topic. Unfortunately, mostly on the fact that some people will never see the things that are really the problem.

    LynnieC:
    Yeah, yeah. You're perfect. *vomit*

    Ky:
    Most of the people who need to know the truth, don't ask and don't want it. But they need to hear it just the same. Me included.

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  10. So was no one else reading this and thinking "oh no...what is it that I've done that she needs to tell me but is worried about hurting my feelings?". I'm going to worry all day, now.

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Crap monkies say "what?"