Thursday, 16 February 2012

What Not to Say to a Friend

By Paula Renaye

We've all been there. Something we didn't want to believe would happen does, and we need a shoulder to cry on. In that moment, all we want is someone to tell us it's going to be okay. Instead, we hear things like:

  • I knew this was going to happen.
  • Too bad it took you so long to see what was really going on.
  • I told you so.
  • Glad you finally figured it out
  • If you'd just listened to me…
  • Anything remotely similar to the above.
Yes, I've had those sorts of things said to me when I was in a bad place. Sadly and regretfully, I have also said similar things to others. In fact, I've said some things to that still make me ill to think about.
If you've read The Hardline Self Help Handbook, you know about the tumultuous roller coaster relationship I had with Rebound Guy (RG)--the man I leaped into a relationship with immediately after my 25-year marriage ended. Like any unhealthy addiction, it took me to the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, and frankly, I barely survived it. 

But, like any relationship, the pain train didn't go just one direction. I talk a lot about things that RG did that cut me to the core. Those stories are very painful and very true. What's also true is that I did things that hurt him just as deeply. No, it was never deliberate or calculated. It was just me opening my mouth and letting my own garbage spew out. That doesn't excuse anything, and it certainly didn't soften the outcome and effect on him.

The bare bones of the story are that about a year into our relationship he had a business deal go really, really bad. I had sensed it was going to happen long before it did and had tried to warn him about it. I tried hard--yes, to the point of nagging--to get him to see things my way and it hurt me that he didn't trust my opinion. I was doing everything I could to prove to him what a great partner I was, and if he'd just let me save him from the crisis I saw coming then he'd see how wonderful I was too. 

Well, guess what, exactly what I thought would happen, did. I was right. Woo hoo for me! I was vindicated. I'd proved how valuable I was and now he had no choice but to see it too. So, to prove how much he needed me and how terrific I was to have around, I gave him an extended version of "I told you so" over the situation.

Oh, yeah, I did. Rather than support him emotionally in the moment, his crisis became about me and my emotional garbage--me trying to get what I wanted out of the deal without even thinking about what he was going through.

Remember that my belief system required that I have a man--specifically a husband--or I was nothing. Therefore, my world revolved around trying to get his approval and validation--preferably by marrying me. If he'd just do that, well, everything would be great. I was certain of it. At least my subconscious was.
That's the short version, of course, but any way you look at it, it isn't a pretty picture. And believe me, if I had a list of do-overs, that incident would be on it--for him and for me. 

Thankfully, in the last several months, RG and I have been able to talk about these things, including that situation. Time, distance and mutual personal growth have given us the ability to see--and say--what we couldn't when we were immersed in the drama of our relationship. We've admitted, apologized and forgiven each other--and hopefully ourselves--for pretty much everything. It took a while to get there, but it's been good. 

Now, back to what a friend really needs in a time of crisis. When we hurt, we just want to feel better. We want someone to tell us it's going to be okay. We want someone to tell us that no matter how badly we've screwed up that they still believe in us and know we'll figure it out. What we don't want or need are opinions, interpretations, solutions or "I told you so" comments. We simply want understanding. 

Okay, sometimes we may want other things too, such as someone to say they're willing to commit a felony to right the wrongs on our behalf . And even though we almost never hold them to it, having that kind of friend is hard to beat!

Sometimes though, when we see a friend in deep pain, we don't know what to say. So, what are some actual words to use if you need to? 

For me, some variation of this phrase usually helps: "I know you're disappointed and hurting, and I am really sorry. I'm here for you and I'll listen." Sometimes though, other phrases can be more helpful. I've found saying things such as, "That bastard! We should kill him" are also good--and good for a laugh.

It really comes down to that truism of "be the friend you want to have" and keeping your focus on what the other person needs. With that intention, you'll know what to say when--and when to say nothing at all.
Keep caring for each other!


PS: You do know I was joking about the felonious and homicidal thoughts, right? Well, it is kind of a habit since murder, mayhem and outrageous fun run rampant in my Jolene Jackson Mystery Series. The first book, Hot Enough to Kill by Paula Boyd, is available now on for only $0.99. There are laughs to be had. Check it out!

* * * *

Paula Renaye is a life coach, motivational speaker and author of The Hardline Self Help Handbook, which has won Four National Book Awards and is the basis for her popular talk, What are you willing to do to get what you want?
Read the Latest on My Blog:
Follow Me on Twitter: @paularenaye


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Books Sold - 6 Nov 2011 to 31 May 2012

Some of you have asked me for my total number of books sold to evaluate KDP Select so here it is. Bear in mind, that results will vary based on genre and author. Good luck and remember, Keep Moving Forward.

Total - 120,836

1. Excuse Me, My Brains Have Stepped Out
Amazon Kindle - 42,559
Paperback -
Smashwords -

2. Frequent Traveller
Amazon Kindle - 35277
Paperback -
Smashwords -

3. Dora's Essentials - Books, Blogs & Smiles 1
Amazon Kindle - 462
Smashwords -

4. Mirror Me Martha (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle - 281
Smashwords -

5. Drive On Hope (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle - 190
Smashwords -

6. Blog-A-Licious Directory 2012
Amazon Kindle - 1
Smashwords -

7. Pandora's Reading Room 1
Amazon Kindle -
Paperback - N/A

8. The Cat That Barked (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle -

9. Dora's Essentials - Examining Anxiety
Amazon Kindle -

10. Dora's Essentials - Books, Blogs & Smiles 2
Amazon Kindle -

11. Elevenses from Around the World
Amazon Kindle -

12. Genetically Modified Foods vs. Sustainability
Amazon Kindle -

Blog-A-Licius - Sherbet Blossom



Dealightfully Frugal

Blog-A-Licious - The Few, The Proud, The Wife


My Soul Slippers

Blog-A-Licous - Textbook Mommy

Blog-A-Licious - Blue Frogs Legs

Blog-A-Licious - Pretty All True

Pretty All True

Blog-A-Licious - tbaoo



Powered by

Blog-A-Licious - The Invisible Art

Blog-A-Licious - Rediscovering Domesticity

Rediscovering Domesticity

Blog-A-Licious - Quiver Full

Blog-A-Licious - Cori's Big Mouth

Blog-A-Licious - Great Fun


Blog-A-Licious - Busy Wife

Blog-A-Licious - Steps To Happiness

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Blog-A-Licious - Toby & Max

Blog-A-Licious - Amelie

Raising Amelie

Blog-A-Licious - Peas In A Pod

Blog-A-Licious - Riley

Blognostics - Poetry


My Awards - September 2010

My Awards - September 2010
Awarded By Jo Frances

My Awards - May 2011

My Awards - May 2011
Awarded By Alejandro Guzman

My Awards - May 2011

My Awards - May 2011
Awarded by Kriti Mukherjee

My Awards - April 2011

My Awards - April 2011
Awarded By Roy Durham

My Awards - June 2011

My Awards - June 2011
Awarded By Sulekha Rawat

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