Every single one of us were taught the Golden Rule “Treat people how you would want to be treated.” Everyone has their own definition on how to fulfill this rule, but the end result is always to make the other person feel loved, valued, respected, or appreciated.
Last year, I had a friend who was dealing with severe depression. This was the first time I’ve dealt with depression to this extreme. They isolated, were irritable, suffered from anxiety, panic, and severe sadness. It’s in my nature to be some what of a care-taker (I’m an empath), but in this situation the more I pushed the more they voiced I made them uncomfortable. When they resisted, I never knew if it was them talking or the depression. I never knew if I should leave them alone or cover them with love even when they expressed they didn’t want it. I didn’t trust their request of wanting to be alone. They continuously lashed out and expressed wanting to be by themselves. I often asked them the question “What do you need from me,” most times they would say… to be left alone. I read articles, watched videos, talked to others about depression to figure out what it was I needed to do to support them. I didn’t want to leave them alone at a low point in their life. I wanted them to know the feeling of someone caring for them unconditionally. I did what I would want any one to do for me. I attempted to give to them, what I would want someone to give to me if I was in a mental asylum in my mind unable to articulate my feelings to the world. I put myself in their shoes, and I thought about the times I suffered from emotional and mental challenges and what I would have wanted from those around me. I thought about times people abandoned me when I was suffering and I didn’t want to impose that same behavior on someone I cared about.
I treated my friend how I wanted to be treated…
But isn’t that a bit selfish? Treating others based upon how YOU feel? Doing things for others based upon what YOU would want them to do for you? This concept of treating others how you want to be treated is a bit selfish because it’s based off of your needs and what YOU would want, what makes YOU feel good, or what makes YOU happy.
Over time our friendship became strained. I’m not sure if it was due to my lack of boundaries, fate, or other issues within the friendship, but I do feel my intrusiveness may have pushed them away.
How often do we really listen to what people NEED from us? What if those needs are far different from what YOU as individual would receive or notice as love? This friendship really caused me to challenge the love I give to others and in what ways. What if the best thing to do was to really leave them alone with their thoughts and emotions? What if that was the way they wanted to cope? That’s not what I would have wanted in a time of depression, but my wants aren’t the end all be all for another person.
We all have different needs. What YOU may need from some one may not be what THEY need from you. I think we should rethink the phrase, “Treat others how you want to be treated…” We should start thinking in terms of give people what they NEED and understand this may be very different than what you as an individual would want… If everyone thought in this way, no one’s specific needs would go unmet.