What's Something You Wish You'd Learned Earlier?
Something I wish I’d learned earlier?
You can’t be the “therapist friend” forever and you can’t always “fix” people.
It’s what I’ve always been, the “therapist friend” since as long as I can remember. I’ve always been the friend you go to for advice and the oh-so-reliable bestie. The one you can always count on to have your back even when you don’t have theirs. The reality of that is that it’s exhausting. Who do you go to when you need advice, when you’re going through things you can’t face alone? Human’s never can seem to take their own advice and that’s always the downfall of the “therapist friend”.
At first, if you’re like me, you’re really happy helping people. Your source of happiness seems to come from your friends and those you love being happy. You enjoy being the one to get them through the storm and tell them everything is going to be alright. It’s who you are and you believe that there’s nothing wrong with it. And then, something goes wrong in your own life and you realize that even if you have a bunch of friends, that no one could really help you out, because that’s not their job in the friend group. As a result, you tackle the problem alone and for a while maybe you think it’ll actually solve itself. But then one of your friends has a problem. A breakup, a bad grade or anything that you feel you need to be there for, and you stop caring about yours. You focus on your friend and you neglect your own problem until it truly is something you can’t take care of alone and once again, you realize there is no one to turn to and things start to worsen.
The “therapist friend” is something we need to eliminate within the culture of friendship. It is not a sustainable “role” in life and no one should be pushed into it unconsciously or consciously. As hard as it is for us empaths, we need to realize that people aren’t puzzles for us to figure out or cases for us to crack. We also need to remember that we’re not therapists at 15 and we aren’t qualified to give most kinds of advice. It’s one thing to suggest ice cream and sad movies after a breakup but another to be the one managing a friend's mental health entirely. It’s exhausting, terrifying and not to mention detrimental in the long run. Even though it may be incredibly difficult most of the time, we’ve got to learn to say no when we really aren’t in a position to say yes. By that I mean if we’re going through something ourselves, if we have too much on our plate already helping others or if we simply believe we can’t do it. Admitting that is already a problem of its own for a lot of us. Bottom line is, it’s okay to put yourself first and take a step back when you need to. If it helps you, ask yourself who's gonna be there for your friends, if you’re not even there for you.
Now, let’s get into “The Savior Complex”. A Savior Complex is defined as “A psychological construct which makes a person feel the need to save other people. This person has a strong tendency to seek people who desperately need help and to assist them, often sacrificing their own needs for these people.” Sound familiar? Now of course any psychological diagnosis requires a professional but I use this here to illustrate just how much this type of behaviour can be detrimental to one’s own mental health, to the point where it’s been coined a psychological construct. Scary right? The thing people don’t realize is that they may put these behaviours in practice almost on a daily basis. I’m people. Again, I don’t claim to have this complex but the behavioural patterns it entails do ring a couple bells. I wish I would have learned to put myself first before losing people forced me to. I wish I wouldn’t have stayed in bad situations because I thought I could “change” them or “fix” them. And I wish I didn’t unconsciously surround myself with “broken” people. It helps when people understand your struggles because they have their own, but it sucks when you can never leave yourself out of it. They’ll call you understanding and a good person but they’ll never see the flip side of it, the side that makes you wish you weren’t so “nice”. The people pleasing side of you that you just can’t seem to shake.