Childhood Friend Now Rich and Snooty

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Reader’s Question

I am a 39-year-old male from India and have been undergoing a strange situation with one of my childhood friends (a 38-year-old male). My friend and I used to have a good relationship. But since this friend of mine has become quite successful and rich, he has suddenly started behaving very strangely toward everybody, and especially toward me.

Because of his occupation (I.T. professional), my friend has been abroad several times. Now, he always complains about our country and finds all of us responsible for the problems he sees. According to him, he pays a fat amount of money toward government taxes, and he feels that he is doing all he should for his country. It is rather us, according to him, who should be more pro-active in making our country a better place, since we do not pay as much in taxes as he pays.

He always tries to humiliate his friends. He feels he has a better knowledge of music, literature, sports, arts, and movies compared to all of his friends. He tries to make his views about these things seem like a final verdict. Lately, many of the friends we had in common have stopped having contact with him for these reasons. And the isolation he has faced because of this has made him very angry. For this reason, he has started making nasty comments about us all, trying to defame us by every possible means.

According to him, it is our egos that are the problem, and he thinks that we are very jealous of him. We have tried to explain to him that it is not our egos creating a difference in our relationship but something else. We intimated to him that he should be more sensitive to our feelings, but he has refused to be sensitive to our concerns and to consider the feelings of his childhood friends.

I have no idea about the state of mind he is in or what he might be going through. But for me, I can tell you, it is very difficult since he happens to be one of my very good childhood friends, and I don’t want to maintain enmity with him.

Please suggest what I should do.

Psychologist’s Reply

I have actually written several post featured on this site on how individuals can let their opinions of themselves and others become unbalanced and unhealthy. And one of the main points that I make in my upcoming book Character Disturbance [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK] is that it’s easy for a person’s sense of self-worth to become unhealthy when they pride themselves too much on their abilities and/or their accomplishments. Abilities are due in large measure to natural gifts or endowments. And success is not exclusively determined by effort; good fortune enters the picture. So, in order to have a balanced, healthy sense of self, a person must maintain a humble appreciation for what they’ve been given and must also be willing to credit themselves not so much for what they’ve been given or what they’ve achieved, but for how they’ve conducted themselves. That’s why, if the two of you are truly friends bonded from childhood, you might need to clear the air with your friend and tell him what you would expect from him in the way of positive regard for others, humility, and gratitude. Ultimately, his “success” in life will be much more determined by the extent to which he is loved and appreciated by others as opposed to how knowledgeable, influential, or wealthy he becomes.

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