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Mon, Jul. 29th, 2013, 06:28 pm
Best Line From THE GOODBYE GIRL: "I'm here. I'm listening."

This article is an excellent reminder that it always seems easier to solve someone else's problems than to solve your own.

I try very hard to be a sympathetic person. No matter how rough some things have been, and still are, I'm working from a position of relative strength: I'm not about to keel over dead from anything, I've got a house, I'm mostly able to pay my bills. And I feel very bad for friends who are going through rough times. I've been there. I hope I don't end up there again.

I've worked for a long time now to adjust my reaction from "cursory expressed sympathy and then problem solving" (the sympathy is no less sincere, but comes across as brusque or perfunctory) to "lots of sympathy, hugs, listening, more sympathy, and THEN an offer to help if I can do anything and if they even want the help". I'm almost there, but problem-solving mode does kick in fairly quickly if I'm not paying attention. It's a reflex: I want to make better whatever's hurting.

This is for everyone who doesn't need advice, solutions, or inspirational speeches, but rather needs commiseration, a friendly and non-judgmental ear, and/or just a big ol' hug. I got 'em right here. Endless supply, and all free.

This entry was originally posted at http://filkertom.dreamwidth.org/1633898.html. You may comment there or here, although LJ tends to have a livelier conversation at this time.

Mon, Jul. 29th, 2013 11:37 pm (UTC)

I've found the "fixing" urge to be quite strong in creative types. Someone says they can't pay the rent and the creatives will think up a dozen ways to raise money before they can inhale to say "Can I help?"

And here's a video on this subject. Sad to say, but I've known people who would rather "express their feelings" (whine) than actually solve the problem:

Edited at 2013-07-29 11:41 pm (UTC)

Tue, Jul. 30th, 2013 02:58 am (UTC)

It's something to think about that's for sure. I wonder if part of it is because of the internet. Words can sound so hollow here. It's easy to type "I'm sorry that's happened." and fake sincerity. You want to do more. You want to say more than "I'm sorry that's happened." to prove that you are actually sorry and not just saying that because talk is cheap.

The trick to any conversation is always knowing what to say to get the result you want.

Tue, Jul. 30th, 2013 03:18 am (UTC)

Don't undersell yourself, Tom, you're doing a great job--both at empathizing/expressing sympathy and helping! Us older folks were taught to call your first impulse a 'masculine helping style', in contrast to a more passive, reflecting-feelings style that's supposedly 'feminine'. That may be true as far as abstract averages are concerned, but I haven't found them to be reliably gender-linked with respect to individuals. They are pretty distinct listening styles, tho', & it's not easy to practice the style that's not "natural" to one, so bully for you for trying!

Tue, Jul. 30th, 2013 09:48 am (UTC)

I've had the same problem. I'm a born technician; I fix things. And when someone has a problem, I have a compulsion to find a way to fix it for them. And that would kick in first, before I managed to give them more than very simple comfort. I had to consciously learn to give hugs, "there, there" noises, and reassurances first, and THEN start fixing stuff.

It's not a male/female thing, because I'm female. I think it's a technician thing, and/or a geek thing.

Thu, Aug. 1st, 2013 03:29 am (UTC)

On a related topic of a personal note, I found myself tonight offering to take in a kitty who needs a new home. Some background first, I'm a member of catster, which is a social network for cats and has a featured diary of the day section on its main page. Today was for a cat in Palatine who is stressed out due to a rambunctious large dog and her person who recently got married and is considering new jobs and perhaps a child in the near future. All those things led to the conclusion that the cat needs a better home. So I offered. I explained the situation with my two cats and I was honest in that I don't know how well they would accept a third cat. I even said this was like a last resort option and there could be something better for the cat.

I'm a little concerned that may be interpreted wrong or that I wasn't sincere in my offer when in fact I was just putting all my cards on the table and stating someone else might have a better hand. What I do know is that no one, pet or person, should be scared in their own home. Even if my furballs aren't pleased with a new addition, I'm sure they won't be scared.