Monday, 27 May 2013

The Truth About the Truth

My sister Sandra is two years older than me. She is smart, responsible, empathic and my main confident. I highly value her opinion and always enjoy hearing what her perspectives on things are.

My sister and I on her wedding day.
Feb. 4, 2012.
The other day I was chatting with her on the phone. She lives in another city, about 4 ½ hours south of where I live, so we try to call each other regularly to keep in touch. I was having a bad day and voicing my concerns about a certain person in my life. I don’t want to admit that I was complaining, per-se, but let’s face it – I was.

“This person does this and this…it really bothers me…why does this person have to be this way…” Being the great listener that she is, she let me go on and on about what was bothering me. Finally, almost out of breath, I asked her: “So, what do you think?”

I was not expecting her to say what she did.

She told me that she’s heard me complain about this issue before with the same person. She said she wasn’t surprised to hear any of this, and asked me why I spend time with this person if the way they are bothers me so much.

I was a little shocked. “Well, I don’t know. I mean I care about them, but it’s just so frustrating…”

“Look,” Sandra said, “This seems to be a pattern in your behavior, not theirs. If you’re not happy, only you can change that.”


Pardon me? I’m not the one with the problem…I couldn’t believe she was saying this to me.

I took a deep breath and cleared my head. I didn’t want to argue with her or react on instinct. I wanted to be objective. After a couple quiet seconds – which seemed to have happened in slow motion – I realized that I was only reacting this way because she was not saying what I wanted to hear.

I knew there was a reason for this. She was right.

I think that more often than not, when someone reacts negatively to someone’s opinion or advice that they’ve asked for, then it’s obviously a sensitive issue and they are not actually looking for advice, but merely a smile and a nod.

I knew what Sandra was saying was true, and I admired the courage she had that it takes to be so honest. This is what I learned that day:

When someone tells you something that you don’t want to hear, listen anyway.

You may not ever necessarily agree with them, but you can learn a lot about yourself by being challenged, open minded, and respective of others.
Ackowledge the reasons why it’s not what you want to hear.

Are you being too close-minded? Stubborn? Were you really looking for advice or just wanting to say some things out loud?

Don’t ask for someone’s opinion if you don’t want it.

If you are looking to vent, then do just that. Don’t ask your friend what they think if you’re not going to listen to them, or if you’re going to get angry and defensive.

You cannot change others. You can only change the way you react to them.

It is not often that people change. They can work towards goals and making different decisions, but the fact is some people have a shorter temper than others; some are needier, insecure, rude, etc. No one is perfect, and no one will ever be. If someone is bothering you, don’t ask them to do something different, ask yourself what you can do to change or manage the way you are reacting to them.

And always remember:

A real friend will always tell you the truth, but in a loving and gentle way.
Truth should never be said in order to hurt another person.

Summer 2012.
Thanks Sandra, I love you.