Your boss says, “When you go to that function, you need to look nice.”, and you hear, “He thinks I’m fat.”
Your mother-in-law says, “If you fold that laundry right from the dryer, you’ll never have to iron again.”, and you hear, “I’m pathetic.”
Your sister says, “That’s one way of doing it.” and you hear, “I will never be good enough.”
Wouldn’t it help if there were a third person standing there at times like that to offer another opinion? Do you ever wonder why there is always a wingman for the central character in every romantic comedy? Or several?! Because sometimes it takes a posse to keep the hero brave.
You need someone who will argue for you against you and everyone whose ever wronged you and do it with utter certainty. Great friends know it’s our job to interrupt each other when we belittle ourselves, and to fiercely defend the person we love – even to her face.
I have a friend whose husband makes her feel small. Insignificance threatens to rear up on her and it makes her wonder if she’s got what it takes. It burns me to a crisp. I just won’t stand for it.
But sometimes nasty self talk is incredibly subtle and it shows up at times when people seem to be asking permission while stating ordinary facts. The effect of interrogative lilt, which is also called uptalk, is to be cute or to get buy-in before the main point is offered, and it really works well to do that.
“I was walking down the street the other day? With my dog? And this neighbor totally beeped at me just to say hello? And it scared me half to death!”
Do you notice this too? No, that was a question.
It’s easy to miss the times when that verbal habit is really camouflaging a feeling of inadequacy, handed down and unopposed.
I say let’s take them down. The snide comments that seem harmless but shackle our feet just ahead of the sprint.
By myself I am never as brave as I am with a friend, so I need your help with this. Let’s be the ones who will call out a friend when she’s unkind to herself. Catch her in the act and raise a halting hand.
And maybe we’ll learn to be on our own side.
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