Q: I am a really kind person and people (my friends) tell me stuff about themselves and their families that most people would keep to themselves. I do help them to look on the bright side of their problems, but every time they tell me stuff it just reminds my of my own problems, that I’d like to forget, I know its my fault because I’m always smiling and laughing when I’m around them but I really just want to cry, because I’m the kind of person my friends look up to if I show them that I’m sad they automatically start frowning and stuff, and I don’t need that extra sadness around me. What can I do about that?
A: What you have to do is start being yourself. It is ok to be a good listener and a good friend, but not when you are denying your own feelings to be there for someone else. This is a bad pattern to start and can lead to more severe problems later. Be honest and real with your own feelings and be willing to set boundaries with your friends. It’s ok to say, “I’m sorry that I can’t fully be here for you because I’m having a hard time myself right now,” or some other statement to let people know you are not an endless well of strength and support. Be a good friend to others but a better friend to yourself and things will be easier. I hope this helps. Good luck.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 28 Feb 2007
Counts, H. (2007). How can I stay strong for my friends when I can hardly be strong for myself?. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 9, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/02/28/how-can-i-stay-strong-for-my-friends-when-i-can-hardly-be-strong-for-myself/