Saturday, July 8, 2017

Friends Don't Let Friends Internalize Feelings of Worthlessness

At least not if we can help it.

[Content: feelings of worthlessness and suicidal thoughts]

When someone says or does something that makes your friend feel bad about themself, feel like they can't do anything, feel pathetic, worthless, useless, hopeless, like they have no value or like their life will never get better - HELP THEM FIGHT THOSE FEELINGS. Reassure them of their worth and make it clear that the people treating them that way are doing something wrong. Express your shock, anger, however you feel towards those people and keep reiterating that those people are WRONG and have problems, that it's not your friend who has the problem. I mean that. KEEP REITERATING every possible chance you get. Don't stop. Don't ever think that it's over, it's in the past, your friend must know enough not to believe those things because they're awesome, and it's so obvious to you that they're awesome. Keep telling them that they're awesome. Tell them every day how much you care about them. And every single time the subject comes up of the people who hurt them, keep reiterating that what those people did was not okay. Every. Single. Time. Keep reiterating. Keep fighting. Don't let your friend internalize.

We can't always entirely prevent our friends from internalizing, especially depending on how severe their situation is and how long it's been going on before we entered the picture or came to know about it. But we can help. We can prevent a lot of internalization by reminding our friends of their value and of the fact they are being mistreated.

My last year of college, I believed I was worthless. I thought I had no value. I saw no hope of life getting better. I believed those thoughts about 98%. If I had believed them 100%, I might not be here. But I had one rational thought buried deep in the back of mind, which told me that I was being mistreated, that the people who flat-out told me that my life had no value to them should be fired, that the system was to blame for what happened. My friend Eli kept that thought alive in me. Every single time I told them what was going on, they kept expressing frustration at the system, not at me. They kept reiterating to me that what people did to me was not okay, they were the ones who had a problem, not me. That's what kept me hanging on in the end. I had to survive if I wanted to change the world by being a validator and fighting positivity culture. Eli is the one who convinced me. Eli reiterated to me every day that I was being mistreated, that there was nothing wrong with me. In doing that, Eli saved my life.

I still have a lot of internalized worthlessness as a result of college, and I'm just beginning to acknowledge and confront a lot of those feelings. But I wanted to share this, so you know how much power you have to help someone. You can't always completely rescue someone from a situation, you can't always prevent them from internalizing any bad feelings at all, but you can help. You can help them to not feel entirely worthless if you keep reiterating their value and keep reiterating the problems with all of the people and systems that have mistreated them. You can save someone's life.

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