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Sympathy

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Max, Mar 22, 2012.

  1. Max

    Max Peer Supporter

    While working through my programme I have hit upon something that on the face of it should be helpful,when in fact for me at least it is counter productive. The sympathetic voice of someone close,for me at least becomes counter productive.I have actually caught myself at times talking in a negative manner,that attracts sympathy.For me that feeds the TMS,and makes things worse. We now have an agreement where discussing pain or anything connected is off limits, and that helps me a lot. I,m working hard at the moment on re programming, and being more positive.Has anyone else found a similar situation?
     
  2. yb44

    yb44 Well known member

    I prefer empathy to sympathy. Though not their intention, a sympathetic voice can sound condescending. There is no real connection with you. An empathetic voice will try and understand how you feel without imposing judgements. They will listen to you, hear you but not attempt to offer advice or try to fix you. As one person described to me, a sympathizer will see you down a deep hole and stand over the hole saying "oh you poor, poor thing." This doesn't get you out of the hole. If anything you would feel sorry for yourself and never get out. An empathizer will get down in the hole with you and share the experience but will not attempt to help you out of the hole. They will encourage you to do it for yourself.

    When people ask me how I am, I always say I am fine. I don't want anyone's pity.
     
  3. Beach-Girl

    Beach-Girl Well known member

    I'm in a class where we just did an exercise on something like this. We put an imaginary "shield" around ourselves while our partner told us something personal and very sad. The point of the exercise was that we can listen to others with our "minds" and be as YB mentioned "empathetic". But when the conversation has ended, we walk away, not adding the other person's burden to our hearts.

    Ultimately, I think (if I understood this right) that we don't want to take on anything into our own hearts that isn't ours. It's not healthy and it will only exacerbate our own TMS issues. Many (if not all) of the TMS'ers I've met through this forum have very large hearts and a huge capacity for caring. But as caring as we are for each other, it doesn't mean we have to carry each others burdens.

    So if it makes you feel as if you're being talked down to because you're in pain, it IS because the other person wants to fix you on the spot so THEY won't feel badly. And if you think about it, that simply doesn't work.

    It's not about them. It's about your journey Max. I have a few friends I've shared my TMS journey with because I know they'll listen and cheer me on rather than try to fix me. The friends I tend not to tell are the friends who would try and fix me. And no one can do that but me.
     
  4. yb44

    yb44 Well known member

    Interestingly I attended a series of workshops on supporting people with complex needs just recently. There was an exercise that we were asked to do, a role play. We got into groups of three. We all took it in turns to be the speaker, the listener and the observer. Speakers were asked to talk about something that bothered them or that affected them in some way. The listener was meant to use active listening skills. The observer took notes about the listener's technique. We than had a few minutes to all feedback to each other what we thought. I had the benefit of having completed similar exercises in the past and have had extensive training in interviewing and active listening skills. When it was my turn to talk, my listener continually interrupted me, anxious to put her point across and advise me on what to do. The advice itself was infuriating. It was in the same vein as telling a therapist to go and see a therapist. I didn't want to go for the juggular being the goodist that I can occasionally be. I accepted that this person didn't have the skills to really complete this exercise well. I calmly suggested that perhaps giving advice was counterproductive to listening. She accepted my comment saying she realized this was wrong and couldn't understand why she did this. She wouldn't ordinarily give advice. Fine, so point taken. Why then did I spend most off the next week fuming about the incident? I went back into work the next day and vented at two my colleagues. It took more than a cup of tea to settle me down, let me tell you. This is a real red flag for me.

    Beach girl, your exercise sounds interesting. We can be good listeners but good listeners are usually good reflectors. I know I have a tendency to over-reflect and not let things go (as illustrated in the above paragraph). This is the danger. It takes practice to listen and then walk away, leaving behind the other person and their issues.

    Max, it may just be difficult for that someone close to adapt to a different way of reacting. But you managed to work it out and come to an agreement. This is excellent.
     
  5. Beach-Girl

    Beach-Girl Well known member

    YB: This is interesting to me. Your exercise sounds like a more extensive than the one we did. Why was the listener allowed to keep interrupting you? I would think it would be infuriating simply because you "weren't being heard." Perhaps for you this is the red flag? You sound pretty knowledgeable on these exercises. Why do you think it bothered you so much? Was it your "listener"? Or that this person didn't listen?

    And I saw this a tad over reacting. I say that ONLY to point out perhaps the obvious to you: even in a safe setting, you didn't feel heard?

    And very cool that you see it. Perhaps you came away knowing this trait about yourself. This can be so frustrating and has the potential (as exhibited by your experience) to hold anger. This is something we're all trying to release and deal with on the spot in order to to deal with our pain, or at least as soon as possible.

    Exactly. The trick is to listen and then walk away with your "stuff" and not add the other person's stuff to yours. Not "take it to heart" as the old saying goes. But I love that you know enough about you, that you saw and dealt with it - even if you had to wait awhile to do so.

    I really liked the sound of your exercise. And truth be told I was tested further upon returning home. Husband has a terrarium of crickets that thrive in the environment he has pain painstakingly created. That night our 7 month old kitten finally knocked the huge glass terrarium to the floor. The crickets scattered. My heart went right to my husband's pain and then later to the pain for our kitten who obviously felt very badly about what he had been warned would happen. He even tried (and was successful) to find the crickets. Most were accounted for and after an hour or so, the mess was cleaned up.

    Later my 16 year old cat showed signs of being in a lot of physical pain. I have a tool that relieves this and once again I felt guilt and sadness that I hadn't attended to her. So in essence, I flunked with my whole family. I took all their pain to bed with me. This is a red flag for me. Both cats were fine, and husband was over the incident.

    This is a hard piece for me with TMS. When the people I love are in pain, I want to try and "fix" rather than "work through" the painful piece. This is going to be a hard one for me to overcome as I am hard wired for this too. I was the family fixer growing up.

    And the work continues.

    BG
     
  6. yb44

    yb44 Well known member

    Yes, BG, it is all about not being heard. One of the colleagues who endured my rant remarked it is red flag for many of us.

    I just had lunch with a friend I hadn't seen for ages. She suffered a major bereavement last fall. She had taken some leave from work prior to this. She manages a team of people all with their varied personal and professional issues. When she returned to work she said that she was no longer taking on other people's stuff. She was now able to listen to what they said and walk away without taking all that stuff with her. We also discussed another issue that is the subject of another thread on this forum now. She brought the topics up, not me. Funny, that. Or is it just that I am more in tune with these discussions?

    Your recent cricket and cat experience is common to many of us again. You tend to everyone else's needs and settle them all down nicely. Meanwhile you are left reeling. It is a process and we don't change the habits of a lifetime overnight.
     
  7. Beach-Girl

    Beach-Girl Well known member

    This is so true and spot on. I keep reminding myself this is about the journey, and not so much about the destination. Thank you.
     

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