It's pretty easy for me to talk openly with my friends. I am not terribly guarded about my thoughts or opinions, and it usually takes quite a bit of effort to offend me. That being said, I have been avoiding a conversation with a close friend because I am afraid he just won't hear me, no matter how carefully or tactfully I speak. I know how to be graceful when speaking the truth, but I'm not sure that he has invited me to do so.
I was thinking about my options, and there are really two that I keep coming back to. I can basically ignore his self-defeating patterns of behavior and go on with our friendship. Or I can call these patterns to his attention in as nonthreatening a manner as I can muster. There are other options, of course, but these seem to be the most reasonable choices.
On the one hand, I want to accept him as he is, self-defeating patterns and all. This leaves me with an elephant in the room, but it preserves the relationship as it is. On the other hand, I want for him to be able to grow and thrive and realize for himself the fullness of his potential. This might (ideally) lead to him shattering a few illusions he holds about himself, others, and life in general, but I know he's quite comfortable with his perceptions as they are. What it comes down to is that I really don't know that he will appreciate me being honest about what I see. My desire for him to become more could ultimately be detrimental to our friendship.
When I translate that last statement into its most basic form, here's what I wind up with: I'm not completely honest and supportive to him, because I'm afraid he won't like me. I feel a little shocked and ashamed at that. But I know what I would want from a friend. Even if I didn't like it. I would choose honesty, even though I would want the acceptance. Maybe there is room for both.