A woman was driving alone late one night on an abandoned stretch, when from out of nowhere materialized a rumbling 18 wheeler. The driver was passing her when suddenly his air brakes whooshed and he slowed back in behind her, his blinding lights blazing into her car. Nervous, the woman sped up. So did the trucker. She slowed down. So did he. No matter what she did, he was on her tail. Panicking, she spotted a gas station that was still open. Screeching into the station, the woman fled her vehicle screaming for help. The trucker leaped from his truck and raced toward the car. When he got there, he stopped, threw open her back door, reached inside, and pulled out a man who has been crouched behind her seat.
Sometime in the night an unknown assailant had hidden in the car, waiting for the opportune moment to attack her. The trucker passing by and from his high vantage point saw the hiding assailant. The woman had been running from the wrong one (Adapted from the Chosen: God’s Dream for You” by Dwight K. Nelson).
Sometimes, we can find ourselves running from the wrong person – a friend who may seem like an enemy but in reality is a guardian angel. These friends recognize our self-destructive behaviors and patterns and address them as they are. They go as far as putting the friendship on the line to call us out on our determined chase after empty pursuits. They take the chance as being labeled as a ‘hater’ and tell us the truth because allowing us to hurt ourselves is worse than telling the truth.
These friends ruffle our feathers and we become defensive, judgmental, and even angry. We discourage their tough love; question their loyalty and maturity and look for imbalances within their own lives to openly rebuke or criticize and invalidate their thoughts. These are natural responses to shame and discomfort. But as much as brutal truths make us uncomfortable, if we are to confront challenging realities and move beyond them, we need to appreciate the gentle rebukes from genuine friends who are more interested in saving us from ourselves than offering us false support while we tumble down the rabbit hole of bad habits or decisions.
How do we view tough love as an opportunity for self-development?
Simple: we incorporate the CALM model where we gracefully accept that which is hard to confront and pave the way for deeper personal growth.
C – Consider what is being said. There is plenty of negativity in the world and our friends do no need to add to it. But if there is a possibility the perceived negativity is really a covert attempt at supporting us in expanding the goodness in our life, then it is worth considering. Respectfully consider what is said to you and give yourself time to think about what is said. Get some distance if you have to – distance gives you an opportunity to process your emotions and think about the suggestion objectively.
A – Ask yourself the tough questions. Get in the habit of asking yourself questions within a positive framework and you will realize that your focus will shift toward a positive direction. Your questions can include:
- Am I truly ready to receive honest feedback about this situation or situationship?
- Does my friend understand the unique dynamics of my situation?
- Is my friend offering an unbiased solution or pushing their personal preference?
- Are my values similar to my friend’s values?
- Is the suggestion coming from a genuine place that will empower or enrich my life?
- What is the hidden value in this moment?
L – Let yourself appreciate honesty. There is a special emotional intimacy that exists within a friendship that is rooted in honesty. These connections are rare. When you spot them, appreciate them, even when they are difficult. Don’t fight that which is honest. Don’t reject a relationship just because the individual within that union chose not to be yes-man/woman. When we appreciate the power of truth and honesty in our lives, truth and goodness expands.
M – Modify the suggestion to suit your life. After you have considered the suggestion or wisdom nugget given to you, modify it to perfectly fit the dynamics of your life. If you are still in doubt, get another opinion from persons who care about you.
Truth be told, as much as we hate having our bad habits being “called out”, we do not need friends who withhold valuable advice or truth from us, enabling destructive behavior. Good advice is good advice, even if it makes us uncomfortable.
This month, celebrate those in your friendship circle that give you room to fail and are honest enough to speak to you about tough issues. Choose to see the care behind their tough love because, sometimes, ignoring advice from a friend can cost us more than a friendship.