I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this. I do understand the desire to solve the problem as seeming like the only authentic display of help. So why do I also really heavily identify with the (often female-coded, in our society) feeling of “dammit, shut up, you’re not listening to me” when someone tries solving my problem? I think it’s because if I’m upset about something and want to talk about it, I haven’t gotten to all the details and nuances yet and if my friend jumps in and offers a solution, it might be one I already thought of but dismissed because of a part of the story I haven’t gotten to yet, or I might be insulted that they didn’t think I already thought of that, or I’m just … not finished feeling, I guess. I think that when I’m in that space, I want to process my feelings for a while, and I’m not quite ready to work on the tangible steps towards resolution yet. I’ve gotten into really bad fights about this with ex-boyfriends (again with the male-female stereotypes) because they want to skip the emotional processing part and go straight to the problem-solving part. They didn’t derive value from the part where I thought a lot about how I got here and why I feel these things and why I react the way I do and what other situations it reminds me of. I derive value from it because when I AM ready to take tangible action, then I feel more prepared and equipped with my past learnings and I feel like it will be more efficient.
This very concept has caused me a lot of painful fights. I see it, ultimately, as a yes-and kind of thing. There has to be balance: I do see that I have my own failing of “wallowing” (as exes would yell at me) in emotions and they thought that I didn’t take enough actions to save myself or better my own situation. But I think it’s okay to feel things for a while before moving on to actions. Sometimes I just want to be heard. I need a lot of validation. I need some “yes, I see that you are feeling pain,” and the unfortunate thing is that without that, jumping into solutions sounds like “let me suggest how you can stop feeling that pain! or worse, this is how you’re wrong to feel that pain in the first place!” Though I do understand that both parties actually want the same thing, which is the cessation of pain, I think when I’m there, I know intuitively that I can’t simply switch the pain off even if I DO implement all these wonderful actions. I’ll implement them and still have the pain. So I have to get to a place where I understand my own pain enough to be able to stop it. It’s the “but we both want the same thing” part that always gets me, and then I am accused of wanting to stay hurt forever and everyone should just never do anything nice to me because I seem intent on being hurt by everything. I do want to stop hurting; I just need a different process than one that seems obvious to my antagonist at that moment.
I really liked this brene brown talk about this, animated with nice animals. YouTube
four qualities of empathy (teresa wiesman?)
- perspective-taking: the ability to take the perspective of another person or recognize their perspective as their truth
- staying out of judgement: not easy when you enjoy it as much as most of us do lol
- recognizing emotion in other people
- communicating that.
feeling with people.