Overcoming Interpersonal Hardships

Hardship with others is severely difficult because you’re battling 2 things at once:

  1. The mental turmoil that comes from the misery of hardship.
  2. The social conflicts that come from other people who bring your hardship on you.

Losing friends

Losing friends is always difficult, but it’s even more painful if you needed that friend at a critical time or you were friends for a very long time:
  • We’ve devoted or trusted a huge part of ourselves to that person, and they have failed us.

Accept that some things just can’t work out, and move on:

Since the first few months will be difficult, spend as much time with other friends as you can to avoid the pangs of loneliness.


You trusted someone, and they didn’t fulfill what you expected.

First, verify it was a legitimate betrayal:
  • People sometimes fail, forget, get distracted, or are disorganized.
  • The only reliable way to tell is by asking them directly, then seeing if they are sincerely apologetic for your suffering.

Once you know, immediately protect from future damage:
  • You can’t trust them anymore, so remove that person’s ability to harm you further.
    • Back out of agreements, communicate everything plainly to everyone involved, and sever ties.
    • You’ll likely lose friends that align with that person, so expect more damage control than you expect.
  • Act quickly, since you don’t know what they’ve planned or how well.

Finally, once you’ve severed ties, assess where you’re at:
  • You were hurt, and need time to grieve your loss.
  • Depending how close that person was to you, you will need to make dramatic and permanent lifestyle changes.

Betrayal is one of the most difficult experiences to internalize:
  • If you were very intimate (e.g., spouse, business partner), the trauma may follow you for years.
  • Even though it’s very difficult, learning to trust again is the only way out of the misery.


Every form of abuse is an unfair violations of boundaries that severely damages us.

The worst thing to do with our abusers is to ask “why”:
  • It’s often very difficult to even know why people do what they do.
    • Because it’s so hard to tell with some people, we may find a delusion that discovering why will give meaning for the situation.
  • However, knowing why often magnifies the pain they brought on you.

You generally won’t find healing from those that hurt you:
  • Deep down, if you’re honest with yourself, all you want is for them to say, “I hurt you, and I’m sorry,” and then never hurt you again.
  • By doing this, you’re essentially waiting for them to start the healing process, and they don’t deserve that power.

Instead, focus on yourself:
  • Learn to accept yourself for who you are.
  • Accept others for who they are, not what you want them to be.
  • Give yourself grace for whatever you’ve done.
  • Let go of what you can’t control.
  • Find goals and purposes that have nothing to do with those who abused you.

Keep yourself safe:
  • Learn to handle conflicts with your abuser as they arise.
  • Find ways to create distance from anyone who abuses you.
    • Try to create distance from the people who enable that abuse as well.

Family dysfunction

Each member must undo their own dysfunction:
  1. Accept that each member must make their own changes and that nobody else can do it for them.
  2. Own control of yourself and relinquish control of others.
  3. Create and enforce healthy boundaries with other members.
  4. Learn patience, since change takes longer than you’ll expect.

Find a new, healthier, supportive group who respects your boundaries more:
  • Social events, hobbies with others, and sport clubs
  • Religious groups
  • 12-step support and recovery groups
  • Individual therapy or group therapy specifically for dysfunctional families

Family: abusive parents

If you’ve been hurt by a parent, don’t wait for them to change:
  • They obviously created the environment you were in, with all its specific patterns, and they didn’t change that time.
  • They may not have loved you, but it’s more likely that they failed at their responsibilities.

If your emotional scarring is severe, spend time completely away from them:
  • About 5-10 years can dramatically change the situation, especially if you’ve been building out your network and career elsewhere.

Whatever issues you don’t work through will express in your romantic relationships.

Family: divorcing

Your life with that person is over, and you must accept that:
  • Even if your ex-spouse wants you back, after a few years they won’t be that person you knew anymore.
  • Very likely, the reason they left was because they’re not the person you knew.

Every relationship with your family and friends will change:
  • Your children will endure the hardship of losing their parents for the rest of their life.
  • Your family and friends will be devastated by the news, and some will judge you for it.

If you have children in the situation, you must avoid mixing them further into it:
  • The older a child experiences parental separation, the harder they’ll take it.
  • The situation is between you and your spouse, so explicitly and constantly clarify a few things:
    1. It’s not their fault in any way.
    2. They can’t do anything to fix it.
    3. You (and their other parent if applicable) still love them.
  • They’ll likely cause more trouble, but scale back your discipline with them.
    • They’re very anxious and angry because you’ve destroyed the foundation for their entire existence.
    • If they developmentally regress or lash out, they’re often trying to recreate the “old” situation to get their other parent back.
    • They must figure out their own healthy perspective of the world, but their minds aren’t equipped to do it.
    • Your divorce has eroded any authority you once had with them.
  • Most of their innocence will disappear by the time the divorce is settled, so be completely honest with them about everything.
    • They can handle the truth, but lies will destroy your relationship with them later.
  • When changing custody with the other parent, try to symbolically associate the timing to a portion of the routine (such as after lunch), and not what the clock says.
    • If the interaction is particularly hostile, do it in a public place or outside a police station.
  • The more you can add new lifestyle elements, the easier they’ll transition into a new way of life.
    • Having a “substitute” father or mother (i.e., other family) can allay some of their anxieties, though it’ll never be perfect.
  • If there was a ton of fighting before the divorce, some kids will actually see a divorce as a relief.

After you’ve grieved for a long while, you can start again:
  • Once the pain has worn off, get back in the dating world.
    • Pay close attention to who you’re attracted to, especially if they’re either just like or the opposite of your ex.
  • You’re guaranteed to have a “rebound” relationship, so don’t take anything serious or steady for at least 2-3 years.

Family: divorcing parents

Even if you’re in your 40’s, you’ll feel like your world is falling apart:
  • This won’t be any simpler with all the new people involved in the situation (lawyers, well-meaning relatives, possible boyfriend/girlfriend of a parent).

It’s natural to feel very unsafe, as well as the urge to fix your parents’ issues:
  • Your parents were the first representation of love and order in your life, and you must find another source for your comfort and safety.
  • Their problems run deeper than you could ever know (likely before you were born), so you will not be able to fix the situation.

Hang on and don’t think much about what will happen:
  • The younger you are, the more your life will flip upside-down.
  • The dust will settle in the end, and that’s when you can make sense of what happened.
  • 2/3 of children in divorces run across major problems in their life, even after 5-10 years, so take the problems as they come.

Don’t worry too much about the new unspoken rules:
  • You’re technically shifting into a new culture, so don’t expect to adapt right away.
  • Focus on surviving and rebuilding a life of your own, away from either of your parents.

Family: unwanted pregnancy

You’re in a severely stressful situation, but don’t panic:
  • Your decisions are critical for the well-being of yourself and your child, but you usually will have 6-7 months to prepare.
  • Ignore the politicized discussions about your situation and any shame from your friends and family: only focus on answers.
  • If you don’t calm yourself and think rationally, you’re going to destroy at least 2 lives with your decision.

You’ve obviously made a mistake, so own it:
  • If you’re the father, you’re just as responsible for creating a baby’s life as the mother.
  • If you’re the mother, the father has as much inherent right to making decisions about the best interests of the baby as you.
  • Unless you were both talking about marriage already, do not get married simply “because of the baby”.
    • A child needs a supportive and loving father and mother who share at least some value systems, and it’ll lead to divorce later without that situation.
    • If you’re uncertain about them, but also want to risk it, get a pre-nuptual agreement.
  • Don’t try to hide it from other people, since they’ll find out anyway.

You now have a small child you must take care of:
  • Despite any political battles about abortion, an unborn baby is as much a human being as a born baby: it’s not defined by whether it’s in the mother or not.
    • Even if you want to say a first-trimester baby is simply a “fetus”, second-trimester babies already start looking human.
    • If you wanted the baby, you’d be excited as of the first conception, so disagreeing with this is simply acting on a layer of toxic shame.
  • Even in extreme situations like rape or incest, killing an unborn baby is immoral.

If you don’t believe you’ll give the baby a good home, look into giving the child up for adoption or having an extended family member take care of them:
  • If you think you can be a good parent but aren’t ready yet, give them to someone you know so you can still take care of them.
    • Contrary to popular culture, parenting is difficult only in how much children steadily have needs (e.g., food, diaper, hygiene).
  • Ignore the religious discussions, and try to find people who will love you in your time of need.

If you’ve had an abortion, don’t destroy yourself about it:
  • Very likely, someone lied to you about what an abortion really is.
  • In a sense, you were the instrument of someone else’s agenda.
  • If you had known that “fetus” was a baby, with what you know now, would you have had an abortion all over again?

Family: difficult children

Even if you did your best, all parents hurt their children:
  • Psychological scars you didn’t realize you inflicted.
  • Experiences you permitted that traumatized them.
  • Lessons you inadvertently taught them that were completely wrong.

Your child may have formed dysfunctional patterns:
  • Treats each day as a disconnected, unrelated experience without goals or long-term plans.
  • Can’t maintain relationships, has trouble with intimacy, or stays in abusive relationships.
  • Has no concept of “normal” or healthy.
  • Relentlessly judges self or others.
  • Takes self very seriously or feels overly responsible.
  • Has trouble finishing projects from beginning to end or is overly irresponsible.
  • Doesn’t adapt to other people and their needs.
  • Constantly needs approval or affirmation.
  • Never handles conflict well, and often avoids or intensifies it.
  • Fears rejection and abandonment, but rejects others.

To move on, you must apologize to them:
  1. Reconcile your trauma.
    • Your child didn’t do anything malicious when they were little, and did exactly what you taught them to survive.
  2. Admit to yourself that you hurt them.
  3. Prepare yourself for your pain when you confront them.
  4. Carefully select a neutral time and place to meet with them.
  5. Ask for their permission to discuss something very personal to you.
  6. Share that you realize you’ve harmed them.
    • Explain to the fullest of your ability how much you know.
  7. Ask for forgiveness for every single wrong you’ve committed.
    • List everything you can think of to them.
  8. When you can’t think of anything else, ask if you’ve missed anything.

Be very quick to apologize to your children:
  • Parents spend their whole lives waiting for their children to thank them.
  • Adult children spend their whole lives waiting for their parents to say they’re sorry.
  • Generally, children are often so hurt that they won’t thank their parents until they’ve experienced healing in themselves.

They will need to work through the issues they’ve inherited by themselves:
  • Their issues will likely repeat and remix themselves as they carry into their own life stages.
  • They will resent any unsolicited efforts on your end, so do not try to fix their situation
  • Their problems often come full-circle when their children (your grandchildren) treat them the way they treated you.
    • Before judging them, they likely treated you the way you treated your parents.

Job loss

The initial blow will always be the most difficult:
  • This can be more uncertain, and more painful, if you’re in a tenuous situation for a long time before losing the job (e.g., pending layoffs).
  • For many people, losing a job is losing part of their identity.

Carefully consider why you lost your job:
  • Most of the time, you’ll lose a job because you were the least pleasant or least competent person to work with (or both).
  • You were, according to that leadership, the most disliked person.
    • This doesn’t mean you’re an awful person (since many groups have awful leadership), but it’s absolutely critical to know why you were let go if you don’t want to see it happen again.

As soon as possible, get back to looking and find something else.


Once you start achieving personal growth after enduring hardship, all your friendships can become complicated:
  • Your less advantaged friends must either:
    1. Acknowledge your success and become inspired by it.
    2. Grow bitter over your situation changing while theirs stays the same.
  • With the more advantaged friends who helped you, you’ll develop equal status (or maybe even more status), which means they must either:
    1. Concede their superior status and treat you as an equal.
    2. Become unhappy with your perseverance and success.
  • New friends won’t know what to make of your success, especially if you communicate too early into the friendship about the hardship you had experienced.

Keep on pushing, since you have now become a phenomenal story with a happy ending.