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Sympathy - It Is Creeping Back Here

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Having been a soldier, I will always consider myself a soldier, and coming from a military family the idea of wanting sympathy and the whinning that goes along with seeking it seems so intolerable to me. I can understand and put myself in others shoes and I am a good listener, but my nature is to be a problem-solver. However, I envy people who know exactly what emotion they are feeling at a given time and express it. Between my up-bringing, and the emotional numbness that often goes with PTSD, I cannot openly express my emotions, particularly negative emotions. So, I hope that by trying to understand where someone is at and offering what strategies I find helpful that that is not overdoing it and being sympathetic rather than empathetic.

Are there times when someone seems to be trying to seek sympathy they are simply trying to express un-expressed emotions because it is a new behavior? How do you know when your expressions of emotions cross the line to sympathy seeking?

I want to heal, sympathy seems superfluous. I want solutions and I read the forum to find them, which I do and hopefully offer some. I find it impacts physically on me to see so much sympathy written into replies. The nerves in my arms and shoulders start hurting. I wish there was a section just for sympathy and it was not allowed into other threads or diaries. It puts me off writing my diary. When I do start I will make sure I write that.

I don't want anyone going mad on me for being uncaring for writing this either, I am caring and sympathetic, I just dont want forty thousand sympathetic words written in amongst practical constructive advise.

I am new here, but I want a straight path to getting better.

Now I will take my numb arms and shoulders off before I get really p##sed off.

There's no such thing as too much talking, please don't worry! I just clicked on this thread because I don't quite understand what's up with it, but now understand it better, so thank you! :) Everyone is different, too, so what kind of works for one person might be awful for someone else. I thought you just plain said what you were feeling, and were not at all offensive.

Sorry to jump in like this, but you seemed a little worried that something you said might have been 'wrong' or offensive? I took it as explanatory. :) I get overwhelmed. too, however, when an emotional button gets pushed.

Thank you Anni. I am actually experience anger for the first time. It has only happened since being on the forum. I used to internalize it and shut down instead. I was actually feeling really angry when I wrote those posts and because it is new to me, I didnt know how to manage it. I assumed it would be yukky for others. It's a good thing and growth and I will learn that it is OK to feel angry. Thank you.
Hee! I have very little anger impulse, too, and tend to call it 'being indignant', or something less dramatic, so I know what you mean! I still do not have that knee-jerk, off the wall flash-anger that some do, which I guess I'm glad I don't have to deal with but wish it were easier to express things. It is healthy, I'm sure, to be able to begin to express oneself. I tend to be very contained when doing so still, but better than nothing! :) For what it's worth, maybe you felt terribly angry, but you didn't sound out of control or unreasonable at all! Strange how awful it feels, isn't it? I don't know if I'll ever get further than where I am with this, but it's better than not having any at all! :)
Thanks for bringing this thread back up. I read the whole thing and learned so much.

Personally I find pity and sympathy patronizing.

I do not need pity which is destructive to me and it makes me angry too.

But for a death of a loved one or the death of a pet sympathy has its place here.

I prefer the cold hard facts and some empathy thrown in for good measure.

Great thread.
Difficult reading, particularly when I've just returned after having been banned without warning (about a year ago).

I feel a lot of sympathy for what's-his-name, the one who was inarticulate and angry, and who knew that he was being inarticulate and angry, and bouncing off the walls unable to say cleanly that what we was looking for was a model he could follow for how to express himself constructively. His expression of his despairing script reminded me of my own despair.

But Anthony had a lot of important things to say, and if I were in his position, I hope that I would choose the survival of the site as a whole over the confused self-expression of one person. Did he really need to ban me? Nobody will ever know for certain.

I've spent most of my life feeling betrayed by authority figures who don't meet my expectations for their behaviour. Recently (having attained an amount of authority myself, and discovering that it's harder than it looks), I've been trying to build up my ability to forgive authorities for their imperfections.
Looking over this thread has helped me to reflect on my own feelings and conclusions about sympathy. I am with most people here in that I just don't feel comfortable with sympathy, but I have to say I seem to have attracted some female friends in my real life who want a LOT of sympathy, and I have real trouble dealing with that, and their reactions when I don't give them enough of it, or in their own minds I somehow am supposed to feel sorry for them, as though that will help the situation.

I explored this years ago, and analysed how I came to think this way, and it was mainly just as it is...it gets you nowhere. But at the same time, I grew up not receiving much in the way of sympathy (other than when I injured myself or was sick) so II definitely can relate to needing comforting words, as I have had nothing but the opposite from family and 'friend' during very difficult times when I had no comfort whatsoever, or solace. It just wasn't something that ever came, so I came to never expect it...at least from the male members of my family.

My mother did give me a certain amount of comforting and sympathy many times, so I can't really complain there, but I know at one stage in my later teenage life, things changed quite drastically, and she was no longer the comforting rock I had been so used to.

Comfort I don't really see as being the same as sympathy, but I am at the moment having trouble defining what I do actually mean by comfort?

I actually find it quite repulsive when female friends I've known have charged me with either not giving them enough sympathy (and having no trouble whatsoever asking, demanding and expecting it...or blaming me for "faking" the sympathy when I wouldn't give them more and they thought I owed them more)...which only made me disrespect them more. I've lost friendships over it and not been fussed at all about it, due to this one factor.

Empathy is always helpful, sympathy is victim mentality, and it makes me feel powerless as well...but I started to feel a bit brainwashed by these women so boldly demanding it as though it were a perfectly natural, normal human need that no one needs to feel ashamed of. I have to remember that many people don't share the same beliefs or thinking as I do, but why am I attracting people with such victim mentalities into my life, that's the question I suppose?

In any case, It did help me get clearer on the reactions I have had with some people in the past when I have vented...and I have had confusion over the difference between venting and complaining. It can be subtle. Venting I find helpful in itself though...I don't need anyones impact...whereas complaining is more a bad vibe that I would prefer to stop myself doing. I guess they are both about releasing certain "negative" energies that feel pent up and need to be aired, but it isn't well received by many people, that's for sure.
Fairly recently, I said to a colleague, "I'm not in the business of coping with problems, I'm in the business of solving them." I agree with Anthony's point when he says (or when I perceive that he says) "Helping someone feel good about being caught in a trap risks having them stay in the trap." I'm glad that the point of this place is to get out of the trap.

At the same time, too much anger, frustration and pain can lead to thrashing about, which keeps you trapped AND does more damage. Sympathy is a useful tool for helping someone avoid the self-injury that is inflicted by self-hatred.

All the tools are dangerous if misused, and Anthony's mode of expression often lacks the nuance that we get from professional communicators (like therapists). When prompted well, the nuances come to light, and what appears to be a blanket denial of sympathy turns out to be a specific denial of the toxic phenomenon Philippa is talking about.
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