It seems like my whole life…when I ask people “how are you”? They’ve always told me. I don’t mean they say “fine”….or whatever….I mean they will jump wholeheartedly into telling me the most gruesome, sad, heart wrenching details. These aren’t friends and family either…I’m talking about the cashier at the grocery store, strangers at the gas station, and fellow patients in doctors waiting rooms.
This is no exxageration..I once sat down with my eleven year old daughter in a waiting room at our family physician and caught the eye of a young lady sitting next to us. I smiled at her and said “how are you”? She turned to me and said…”My boyfriend shot me this morning”!!!!! ” She spent the moments until I was called back energetically relating every gruesome detail. In front of my daughter!. Or there was the time at Target when I asked the Cashier how she was and she burst into tears and related how she was broke and didn’t have enough money to get home that day.
I could add story after story. And when I was younger, I would get involved and ask questions and generally fuel the fire. I guess I felt honored that complete strangers were sharing their story with me. And I guess I felt that I should help them in some way and I still do. It was draining energetically, and it was draining emotionally. But I’ve learned something about these situations. Most of the time, my help would be met with a “yes, but”. When I would suggest something that I thought would help….it was always “yes, but I don’t have the money”, or “yes, but that won’t solve anything” or “yes, but you don’t understand them”, yes, but…yes, but…yes, but. It didn’t happen all the time. Sometimes my suggestions would be met with a “thank you so much for your help” , or “thank you that’s a great suggestion”. Or “yes thank you for the loan of twenty dollars” But it happened a lot. Most of the time.
And, I know that I have and still do answer kind suggestions from family and friends with “yes, but”. Which actually means “NO” by the way. I know that when I look back on the times when this happens, with me, that I am not ready to deal with and be responsible for the outcome of my situation. And sometimes…I haven’t been able (financially, emotionally, spiritually…whatever)
In case you’re interested, I have formulated a plan for how I deal with this now. For myself, I try to really listen. Not comment… just listen when someone is trying to give me suggestions. I’m not always successful. But I try. I try to talk to myself about taking responsibility for the outcome and not hoping someone else will solve it. Not easy, not something I’m always successful at. But hey…it’s a goal.
When dealing with others…I try to listen. Really listen. Most people know what they need to do…they just want someone to listen. While I’m listening..I try to shower them with love and peace. I will offer suggestions but if I’m met with “yes, but” I just try and listen some more. I don’t fuel the fire anymore by trying to make them see the problem the way I do. I just listen. (This is particularly hard with family members…just saying) Lots easier with strangers and acquaintances. I’ve discovered that most people…they just want someone to listen. A kind look, a hug, reassurance that they are heard and are valid in the world. That’s it.
And truthfully, some people just want to get their victim story out there as much as possible. Hey, don’t judge them! We’ve all been there if we’re honest. But we don’t have to fuel the fire with a lot of our own energy. Definitely not. Those people, and ourselves too when we’re in the midst of victimhood, need you to send them love and caring as much as anyone. Maybe more.
You know, sometimes people need to be carried until they can find their wings…and sometimes they won’t find their wings if you carry them. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Hard to know the difference, but that’s what we’re here for…is to learn. What else have you got to do?
P.S. Comments are always appreciated!