Check on your strong friends
This sentiment has been going around social media for a while and I’m glad but I feel like it needs more context. Checking on your strong friend isn’t just a “hey how are you” before you unload your problems on them. Ask for life updates, mental health status and more importantly if they have space for you to vent. I’m lucky to have a couple people in my life that do this because it’s more important than you think.
When you vent to someone or ask them for advice you are asking them to place themselves in your shoes or re-live certain scenarios that might be difficult for them. Asking a person how they got over a breakup is valid but you also have to consider that you’re asking them to go back to that space in order to help you. And while part of this is our responsibility as friends, being everyone’s go-to for advice can wear a person down.
My experience may not be the case for some people. This can be because of the degrees in which we feel empathy. I am not ashamed to admit I’m highly sensitive, I absorb other people’s emotions, and I can become overwhelmed in relationships easily.
Being introverted and needing alone time are things that I am used to, I can explain them to the people I am close to and deal with them accordingly. But being overwhelmed by someone close to me? That’s not as easy to explain. I am a venting block for a lot of people in my life and I feel honored that people trust me with their problems. At the same time, it is difficult for me to let go of the things that people have confided in me. It can become exhausting and impact my mental health for days before I get back to normal.
Your friends are just that – your friends. They are not your therapists, counselors, or pastors. I encourage you to think about some of the dynamics you have right now and evaluate the balance they have. Are you constantly venting or asking for advice? Check your text threads and see when you last asked about something they have going on. Make an effort to be there for your friend more.
And if you are one of these people protect your peace. People don’t know you’re overwhelmed unless you tell them. You have to take responsibility for your feelings as well. Be cautious of who you allow to share your space. Maintaining relationships can require a lot of your emotional energy, make sure they are worth it.