The Anti-Logic of Turning Friends into Enemies

young beautiful college student girl studying for university exam in stress asking for help under test pressure sitting on desk with book in youth education concept

Life is stressful enough without turning our friends into enemies.

Not that you need me to tell you this, but it’s a very stressful world that we live in.

Turn on the news and you’ll see horrifying stories of global terrorism, increasingly negative and hateful political battles, and consistent stream of crime, racial tensions, and other societal ills that make it hard to even want to leave the house in the morning.

If you do choose to leave the house, guess what could be waiting for you when you finally make it to work? In many cases, it could be a soul-draining combination of backstabbing coworkers, bully bosses, and a mountain of work that only seems to get higher, not smaller.

And that’s if you have a job!

If you don’t have a steady paycheck coming in, then you’re faced with a different (and arguably, worse) kind of stress. Namely, finding a way to keep the lights on in your home and food on your table everyday.

Okay, enough of that stuff.

The point that I’m getting at here is that stress is everywhere and no matter how positive we claim to be, we can’t run from it, even if we wanted to. Denying this reality is not positivity, it’s delusion.

Real positivity is choosing to deal with the stress in our lives as productively as possible. And in my opinion, in order to do that well, we’re going to need some help from our friends.

Here’s the problem, though:

Many times when we’re under stress, we tend to take out our frustrations on the people who are not only there to help us, but they are also the people who deserve our wrath the least (i.e., our friends and loved ones.)

This is insanity, and if you are guilty of doing this, then hopefully this blog post will help you to make a different choice.

Why Do We Do This To Ourselves?

As I mentioned earlier, stress isn’t going anywhere. Even worse, when we’re stressed, we tend to make some less-than-optimal decisions.

Stress can make us insult our significant others for no reason, snap at our well-meaning friends when they’re trying to be helpful, and in some cases, raise our voices at our kids unnecessarily and make them burst into tears. I have known many people who are actually kinder to complete strangers or to a boss who they hate, than they are to their own family.

So, why do so many people (including some very positive people) compound their stress by taking out their frustrations on the people who love them the most?

I have heard a lot of reasons for this throughout the years:

  • We’re more comfortable with our loved ones and are willing to show them the “real” us.
  • Our loved ones know that we’re just blowing off some steam–they’ll forgive us.
  • We think that they will never leave us and that they will always hear us.
  • We do it because we can.

There is a huge problem with this line of thinking. It neglects the simple truth that the people who are on the wrong end of these outbursts have feelings too. 

Our friends and loved ones are not in our lives so that we can use them as our emotional punching bags whenever we feel stressed. Our loved ones are there to offer support, lend an ear when needed, and be there for us when no one else will.

However, if we sleepwalk through our lives by allowing our emotions to take the steering wheel of our lives, we will end up deeply hurting the people who deserve better from us.

Most of all, we are kidding ourselves if we think that our friends and loved ones will put up with this kind of treatment forever.

They won’t.

Would you?

A Better Solution

Just like most problems, we must become aware of it, before we can do anything to fix it.

If you are aware enough to notice that you have been known to take your anger out on others, then you’re also blessed with the mental capacity to change it.

An excellent place to start is to sincerely apologize whenever you dump your frustrations onto a loved one.

This is a critical skill, and I am always saddened by the amount of people who are unwilling/unable to do this correctly. If you’re struggling with being a master apologizer (I just made that word up), I wrote about an article about The Art of the Apology that could be helpful.

Next, since we’re talking about stress, it is very important to have a healthy outlet for releasing that stress. For example, here are some techniques that have worked wonders for me:

  • Journaling
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Exercising
  • Color in an adult coloring book (those things are awesome)
  • Get a massage

It is very easy to dismiss this as common sense, but please don’t make that mistake. Common sense isn’t that common, remember? The key here is common practice, and by having a daily practice of releasing your stress in a healthy manner, it will make it less likely for you to displace your anger onto the ones you love.

Speaking of which, it is always worth remembering that life is so short and fleeting. The time that you have with your loved ones is finite and constantly dwindling as you’re reading these words–and these days should be honored. These days shouldn’t be spent in misery and making the people who love you become miserable as well.

Is it worth waiting a until a loved one is in a horrific accident–or worse–a loved one suddenly dies, before we commit to stop emotionally hurting the people we love? I don’t think so. We can commit to this change today.

The world is stressful enough, isn’t it? Just by committing to deal with your stress in a healthy manner (and not not spread your stress to loved ones), you have literally made this world a more positive place.

Our friends and loved ones chose us for a reason. Let’s honor that choice by never turning them into our enemies.

Your Turn

Do you sometimes dump your frustrations onto your loved ones? Have you ever been on the wrong side of that treatment? Either way, jump into the comment section below and make your voice heard!

Shola

Shola

Founder of The Positivity Solution
Author, keynote speaker, and kindness extremist who is committed to changing the world by helping as many people as possible to live and work with more positivity.
Shola
Shola

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Comments

  1. Hi Shola, I hope you & your family enjoyed a good Easter weekend together. I only want to comment on this topic to add an extra twist. I do make a practice of being kind, or at least courteous, to all, both inside & outside of my home, regardless of how I’m feeling. However, under stress, there is another kind of hurtful behavior to watch out for: withdrawal. Under stress, I disappear, don’t return phone calls, stay home, tell my hubbie I’m “too busy” or “too tired” for spending time with him. This destroys friendships too, and causes major problems in family relationships and marriage. It is something I constantly must work on, and is one of my very bad habits I feel I’ve made very little progress on. So everyone, remember, silence & ignoring is abuse too, leaving others feeling unappreciated and unloved.

    • Thanks for adding in that point, Donna–that is a super important addition. Hurtful behavior isn’t always about raised voices and unkind words–sometimes withdrawal can have the same negative effect on our loved ones. Sometimes, time alone can be a good thing when we’re really upset, but too much of anything (including withdrawal) can be very harmful to any relationship. As always, thanks for the realness!

  2. So thankful for your gentle reminder! This subject came just at the right time! I’m going to be less critical of my family and friends and show them more love!

  3. Shola,

    This subject breaks my heart. I am guilty of taking my stress out on someone I care deeply about. In my previous job I was worn out, more than stressed and feeling worthless. My sister was going through a difficult personal crises and called me at work one day seeking my support. She caught me at a particularly bad moment and I was less than kind. I was always the one she came to and I wasn’t there this time. I immediately regretted my outburst, but the damage was already done. Even though we talked and I expressed how I couldn’t be more sorry, our relationship has never been the same and I don’t know if it will ever be again. We still love each other, she’s my sister, but we don’t talk the way we used to and it breaks my heart even after five years.

    I hope your readers recognize how important this post is.

    Thank you,
    Kat

    • Thank you so much for sharing that story with us, Kat. I really hope that people will read your comment, because that is exactly why this topic is so important. Sometimes these outbursts can have a lasting negative effect on a relationship with a loved one–even when it’s a sincere (and immediately recognized) mistake. In your case though, even though it has been five years, I hope that your sister will eventually come around. From what I read, it didn’t seem like you made a habit of treating your sister poorly–in fact, it sounds like the opposite. Reading stories like yours breaks my heart, because I know the life-enhancing importance of a sibling bond. I’ll be sending you and your sister positive vibes, my friend.

  4. This is so very true Shola. I used to be that way when I was younger and immature. I used to think “They love me, they will understand” but that was taking them for granted and a recipe for disaster. No one deserves to be treated like an emotional punching bag. I understood finally when my own mother told me “Don’t vent on the people that do love you or you will end up alone”. From that day on, I made the promise to myself to never do that again. So, whenever I feel stressed, angry or a complete emotional mess and feel like I’m about to lose it, I retire to what I like to call “My beautiful castle of solitude” (In few words, my room, where amazing books await for me) and stay away from people and social media until I regain my sanity. That seems to work for me for the last decade

    The funny thing is that I haven’t been pushed to that level for a long time now, since the day I decided to live my life positively. I think that’s awesome.

    I loved your post, Shola, I know a couple of ppl that should be reading this as well, namely my boss! lol

  5. Your mom is a very wise woman, Sofia!

    I knew when I was writing this blog post that it wouldn’t be a very popular topic, because it stirs up a lot of guilt (and no one likes feeling guilty) and most everyone reading it has behaved in this way toward a loved one(s). Props to you for having the self-awareness to commit to not treating your loved ones like an emotional punching bag. It’s an ongoing battle to avoid falling into that easy trap (I’m far from perfect in that regard), but as you’ve noticed in your life in the past decade, doing the right thing can have a huge positive difference–not just on you, but on your loved ones too :).

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