Having helpful hard conversations

Sometimes there are people in our lives that are toxic for us. They can make you feel bad about yourselve, say hurtful things, make you feel uncomfortable, or just give off an energy that you don’t like. I’ve always approached these types of people with the ‘how can I get away from them asap?’ approach. I feel my life is to short to be consumed by those who take me to a bad place within myself. Protecting yourself against these people is an important part of staying healthy in your life as they can end up owning a lot of your energy in ways that aren’t good for you. While we have all experienced that toxic person at times today I want to take a closer look at another type of person in your life, the good friend who promotes behaviours you are trying to stay away from. 

I was talking to a guy the other day who made me think about this subject. This guy had been working hard to lose some weight over the last six months. He’d changed his diet habits, included exercise in his life and had reduced the amount of drinking that he was doing. His change in behaviours had lead to some great results where he’d nearly lost 20kg and was feeling healthier and more energised. When we were talking he mentioned that he was struggling with one of his best mates. He asked me ‘what do you do when one of your mates is continually at you to keep drinking when you have changed the way you drink? As our conversation went on it was pretty clear that he valued his mate and that he wasn’t someone who he didn’t want in his life but there was just this one problem. He wanted to figure out how he could stop this from happening. 

There are many factors that can lead to this place and it’s hard to know why the friend is encouraging his drinking. It might be the friend is confronted by his friends achievements and is feeling insecure so they want to keep their friend in the same place, or it could be as simple as the friend sees drinking as the way they socialise together so he’s just trying to set up the way he traditionally caught up with his mate. We can come up with many different scenarios for the motivation of why the friend keeps encouraging the drinking, some good and some bad, but ultimately we would never know unless we had a talk to the friend. 

When the guy who had lost the weight and I were having our conversation I asked him if he had talked to his mate about it. He replied that he hadn’t. While he was getting frustrated with his friends pushing of alcohol he had never let his friend know that he had shifted away from drinking and would like it if he didn’t propose it so much. 

Having tough conversations with others can be hard. Often when we think about them we can see all of the ways they will go wrong which makes it harder for us to do them. The interesting thing about this drinking situation was that the guy I was talking to, who was losing weight, was pulling away from his friend. He was losing interest in his friend because of the alcohol questioning but at the same time his friend may have not even known that this was a problem.  

When we confront a true friend about the tough things they will respond in the best way. If this guy let his friend know that he would prefer for him to not suggest alcohol and that he would like to do other activities with him he is then giving his friend a chance to make changes in their relationship that will create a stronger connection. A good friend would make the required change. When you are willing to have the hard conversations you may find that sometimes people won’t change, at that time you can reassess if it’s worth having this person in your life but at least this way you have given them the choice.  

Change can be hard and in trying to set up change we want to put as many of the cards in our favour as possible. The people we have around us are a big part of this. While it may be hard to have these conversations if you can be open with them about how their actions are making it harder for you you will be making it easier for you to be successful and at the same time hopefully creating stronger friendships which will make your life better in many ways.  

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Bevan Eyles