The Difference a Point of View Makes

So I think that my loss of my friend has to do with the difference a point of view makes. My friend and I have many similarities: we both have a lot on our plates, both have had a number of losses, both of us value our children and our families. We both tend to be opinionated and feel strongly about things. There are many times in the past when we have stood together and looked at things in the same way. When we have worked together or supported each other.

But this time we are looking at the same thing in such different ways that it appears our friendship has ended.

And that is how powerful a difference a point of view can be.

I see myself as someone who was willing to help out in a crunch. Someone who was willing to go out of my way to be helpful. Someone who was trying to be a good friend, but also had to set a limit because I knew over time I would grow resentful and that there would be a series of problems that would fall like a row of dominoes. If I had agreed to give long-term support, at some point I would have backed out, full of frustration after the dominoes fell. But I care about her and her children, so I wanted to do what I could without that happening. I saw it as a big favor to ask of me, which I didn’t think I could give; but I thought I could do a small part, which was still a big favor in my mind, but not as huge as the original ask.

She sees me as someone who has betrayed her, who she couldn’t count on when she needed me. It took a lot for her to ask for help, and she felt there was no one else. She sees my offer as inadequate and insignificant. It doesn’t solve the problem in the long-run, only offers a short-term fix to buy some time and figure out a long-term solution. She is overwhelmed and desperate and not really able to think about anyone else’s point of view – she’s in crisis. She sees me as hurtful and selfish, as the person with all the power in this situation, someone who could easily give her what she needs, and solve one of the many problems she is facing right now.

She didn’t see it as a big favor for me to give, she couldn’t see the costs or problems it might create at my end. And she thought that whatever problems it might create were minor compared to the problem it would solve for her. Because they were my problems, not hers. Her problem was big because it was hers. My problems were small because they were mine. It’s a matter of perspective – the things close to you look huge and the things far away look miniscule.

And so the favor felt huge to me, but not so big to her.

I am not saying her problem was small – she has one big problem. But if I was to do the favor she asked, I would end up with a pile of small problems which would rival her big problem in size.

It’s all in the point of view.


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