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Is it ever better to be mean?

Asked by Mariah (19224 points ) December 26th, 2012

I have this friend who has very poor self esteem and a fixation on the negative side of all situations. He talks to me a lot about the problematic feelings he is coping with, and while I have begged and pleaded with him to go to therapy, he won’t. It would do him a world of good, so I’m pretty frustrated.

I have recently realized that I am his outlet. Recently when he comes to me, I haven’t been very nice. It’s partially my frustration showing through, and it’s partially “tough love.” I am noticing that this tactic seems to be working better on him than showing empathy.

When I show empathy, to him it’s like I’m putting a stamp of approval upon his mindset and telling him it’s normal. When I get tough with him, he comes closer to realizing that the way he feels is not okay and needs to change. I also feel I am providing less of the emotional help he wants, which is starting to make him more open to the idea of therapy. He no longer has a satisfactory outlet. By being his outlet I was sort of “enabling” him to continue refusing the therapy he needs.

I never thought anything could be accomplished by being mean, but now I kind of do. Do you have a story where you or someone else had productive results from being mean?

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