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Beware False Friends 🗡️
It just might save your life
There’s nothing deadlier in life than a false friend. History has shown the price of misplaced trust many times:
Thomas Cromwell once assisted in the marriage of Anne Boleyn to Henry VIII only to end up orchestrating her execution when the king grew tired of her.
Leon Trotsky was an ally of Joseph Stalin during the early days of the Russian Revolution until Stalin turned against him, leading to his exile and assassination.
Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus was a trusted friend and long-time supporter of Julius Caesar throughout Caesar’s rise to power; he later helped to organize the assassination plot against Caesar, and even personally convinced Caesar to go to the Senate House where he was stabbed to death on the Ides Of March.
Here’s the thing: most betrayals never make it into the pages of history. Even in my own life, I’ve been robbed by friends and family, betrayed by lovers, manipulated by organizational leadership, and discarded by people for whom I cared deeply.
Each time I was betrayed, I was shocked. I struggled to understand how and why some people could be such colossal assholes.
In hindsight, I’ve realized that selfishness, and even cruelty, are parts of human nature. There’s a darkness in the soul of every person; some people learn to harness it toward helpful ends, and others get consumed by their own Shadows.
This means that empathy is not only a virtue; it’s a necessary survival skill. You must learn how to think and feel from the perspective of other people. You must familiarize yourself with the heinous shit that humans are capable of.
It’s the only way to survive in a world where friends can become enemies in the span of just a few moments.
However, beyond that, you must learn to recognize your own Shadow. Take notice when it begins to drive you. Set boundaries regarding what you will and won’t do to other people, and be vigilant when you approach your limits.
“Many a man who is ignorant of human nature has friends who are bad friends.” Socrates, as quoted by Plato
Know Your Friends—And Your Enemies
Both your truest friends and your fiercest enemies will do everything they can to win your trust and place themselves in your inner circle. It is your responsibility to learn how to tell them apart.
To that end, let’s explore a few of the differences between false friends and real ones by examining a few key qualities: loyalty, support, honesty, and impact.
Fake friends often wear friendship the way an actor wears a mask, but their loyalty is shallow when tested.
They go to great lengths to stay close to you when it serves their interests, but they abandon you the moment they no longer need you — often, just at the time when you need them.
In contrast, true friends are unwavering, even when you are going through hard times, people are turning on you, and you have nothing left to give.
Do not take the loyalty of a true friend for granted; it is among the rarest gifts.
False friends may pretend to accept you as you are, then secretly judge and criticize behind your back. They will pretend to be trustworthy, and then they will leak your secrets to your enemies and turn people against you in the shadows.
Also, false friends often do not embrace you for who you are; instead, they attempt to shape you into an idealized version of you they create in their mind. As soon as they realize you won’t comply with their wishes, they abandon or betray you.
Real friends, however, accept you for who you are, embracing your strengths and weaknesses without judgment. They encourage you to embrace authenticity and they support your personal growth.
Fake friends will go out of their way to please you, and even encourage you to do things that they know are bad for you. Then, once they know you’re hooked on their attention, they will pull away until you beg for more.
Real friends, on the other hand, will deal honestly with you, even when it hurts. Instead of “gassing you up” all the time, they will tell you hard truths for your own good.
If a “friend” alternates between showering you in compliments and ignoring your completely — beware. But if your friend is not afraid to hurt your feelings by telling you what you need to hear, keep them close.
False friends destroy your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being by: 1) manipulating your emotions; and 2) encouraging you to make bad decisions and engage in destructive behavior.
Their deceit, manipulation, and lack of support causes stress, anxiety, and sometimes even leads to major consequences, including embarrassment, public ridicule, injury, or worse.
In contrast, real friends contribute positively to your well-being. Their presence brings comfort, joy, and a sense of belonging, nurturing your emotional and mental health. Their influence leads you to the path of wisdom.
Food For Thought
Ponder these qualities of good and bad friends, and then consider the people whom you call friends. Do your friends act like true friends, or false friends?
Now, consider how you treat your friends.
Are you a good friend?
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