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Trouble With Other People's Emotions

Discussion in 'General' started by batgirl, Nov 1, 2006.

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  1. batgirl

    batgirl I'm a VIP

    I am wondering if anyone has trouble with the emotions of other people, especially sadness and anger. I am not good at expressing my own emotions or even identifying what I am feeling at any given time, but I also really really hate it when other people express their emotions. I had to leave a therapy group I was in because I couldn't stand it when the other members cried or hugged each other. I kind of panic inside and feel like I want to bolt away.

    A couple of weeks ago, my landlady had this huge fight with her teenage niece who lives here as well (I live in a large house that has been divided up into apartments). I witnessed part of the fight and it made me so sick that I couldn't eat properly for about a week and had more nightmares than usual. I now feel some resentment and even hatred towards my landlady and her niece for having the fight, and want to avoid them at all costs.

    Anyways just wondering if this is a problem for anyone else.
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  3. Farmer

    Farmer Active Member

    Oh Ya it drives me nuts to see other people fight, maybe it has to do with the emotional numbing and can't relate or something. If people start up even if I do not know them I want to leave.
  4. Marlene

    Marlene I'm a VIP Premium Member

    I've always been very sensitive to other people's moods and emotions. Since the PTSD symptoms started, it's gotten worse. I 'pick up' (to the point I feel like I'm feeling someone elses emotions) on the emotions so easily now that I have to work very hard to block them out. Negative ones are the worst for me, too. I hear people arguing in the checkout line at the grocery store, I have to damn near nail my feet to the floor to keep from just bolting out.
  5. permban0077

    permban0077 Policy Enforcement Banned

    Umm "sensitive" to others moods. I think women's intuition, like females being able to more readily read body language is pretty normal. So we seem to "know" what other's are feeling. Not hype, been proven.

    But caring? I am just learning to genuinely give a rats ass if others are upset. Being a mom I do care about how my kids felt and husband, but it did not rub off on me or bring me down. I did not know when to or know how to respond. Being here I am learning to feel others' pain. I think because I am healing slowly and others "get it" and I "get them". It is a start. So another person's pain emotional or physical I have always had a hard time caring.

    Now anger... directed at me or not I have had an extremely hard time backing down. Before I may have jumped right in telling them both how big of idiots they were or if one being the obvious ass go after that one. Agoraphobia aspect seemed to go away to the point of not behaving as I should in public (but still be pushed enough by it to actually interact in public) then but I would be left with a panic attack afterwards. I May still, I don't get out enough to tell you.

    When learning to control my own anger I had to learn not to get pissed at stupid people (working on it) as I hold it in and it comes out as a anexiety/panic attack... Doc had been dealing with me being that way at home as far as anger and last time I was with my family and around idiots fighting in public yelling and cussing up a storm 3 adults. 1 woman and 2 men an little kid listening with them I was so pissed. They had parked next to where hubs did. But doc had said "don't act" I did well. I just laid on the horn for about 10 or 15 seconds. Looked out my window and told them I have kids in my car that don't need to hear your crap and profanities. They shut up. I did not confront getting out of my car. Hubs "loves" having me go the store with him as I don't/won't get out and he never knows what I will behave like.

    But looking back at times I did this it was where those others' actions would impact (in front) my kids or those less able. Not as random I had thought. But when people do go after another I usually do see an "innocent" involved.

    Do I care? Not really like I said I have learned to care about others' feelings here with relating and helping and being helped back. Those few people have impacted my life. Sometimes I can be to be sympathectic as I type; I have reasoning as I see what I say and can hit back space and don't want Anthony reaming me and aginst rules flaming, or I do not respond if there is there is no way I can say anything but you are a huge dumbass. Been a couple times. Some people say things and I think :stupid:

    Make sense? I feel for others now more than I did before as I am not being let down and don't want to let down others now. So now I am more apt to help where I can and give my spin here. Public face to face not so yet.

    Hope it made sense.
  6. reallydown

    reallydown I'm a VIP

    Hi batgirl,
    yeah, i often have trouble identifying how i'm feeling, let alone expressing it...other times it just comes out as rage...i also often want to bolt when others express their emotions...i don't even know how to handle my own let alone someone else's...i don't know if that makes sense...i've only had about 6 hours of sleep in the alst 3 days...
  7. kimG

    kimG Well-Known Member

    When I see and/or hear people arguing, I just want to tell them both to shut the hell up. It drives me nuts and actually triggers me, especially if they don't stop. I have learned to get myself away from the situation, but it still isn't easy.

    I have to be held back and kept from leaving my job to go after an abuser when I find out one of my students is being abused.

    There are times when people are sad and I feel sad too. But more often I feel like telling them to build a bridge and get over it.

    I also have trouble empathisizing with my students when they get in trouble. Too often I hear they are getting a lesser consequence for a negative action because "they come from a bad home." My standard response is, "I came from a bad home too, but I didn't screw up in school."
  8. piglet

    piglet Well-Known Member

    Also not good with other people's emotions. I'm not good with my own and it makes me feel insecure and abnormal when people around me are showing theirs. Anger is to be avoided at all cost, and crying - well, what do you do with a crying person??????
  9. batgirl

    batgirl I'm a VIP

    Wow thanks everyone for your responses. I guess I'm definitely not the only one who feels this way.

    That's a good point about emotional numbing, Farmer. I often secretly feel superior to other people because I'm in control and/or numb and they're not. But the reality is I'm terrified of their feelings, and probably mine too.

    Piglet, I agree, I have no idea what to do with a crying person either!! I mean I see what others do... hug them, hand them tissue or whatever, but I can't imagine myself doing that. I have trouble with empathy, like you mentioned, kimG. I often think that people's problems or situations are not nearly as bad as mine, so therefore they shouldn't be complaining or carrying on about it. Not sure in my case if that's the PTSD though or just family background... my father was the same way. He used to tell us not to complain about anything because he had seen worse in the service. Triggered is a good way to describe my feelings about certain emotions though, so thanks. I never thought of it as a trigger.

    No you made total sense reallydown. That's exactly how I feel! Same with you, Marlene. I didn't realize anyone else wanted to bolt from the grocery store!! That happens to me quite frequently. People drive me crazy.

    You also make sense veiled. I'm not really at the point yet where I feel for other people face to face, although reading people's stories on this forum, I feel empathy. I think it's the actual emotional responses face to face that really get to me and make me shut down.
  10. Boo-Damphir

    Boo-Damphir Active Member

    Here's another spin on why many of us have problems being empathetic with other peoples emotions:
    We are operating in a stripped-down bare survival mode. We don't have the luxury other people do of feeling secure, safe, and well. So while others are able to be comforting, nurturing or therapeutic with people in an emotional storm- it's all we can do to put the left foot in front of the right foot and walk somedays.

    When we are confronted with someone elses emotional needs, we just don't have the energy reserves left to put ourselves behind and reach out to them. We cut to the quick whether in thought or in actual words with comments like "stop whining" and the like.

    Is this good or bad? Probably somewhere in the middle. I like honest people and have little patience for those who pussy-foot around me. Just get to the point and we'll be just fine. That isn't always the best response; other people may interpret me as being an unkind bitch. Humans loved to be stroked and told, "I'm listening, I care, your feelings matter."
    The down side is that it requires a lot of energy to do. The up side is that it is immensly rewarding.

    Just know yourself. If you are unable to "be there" for someone else's emotional needs then don't. But I would advise to periodically just give it a try. As we all go through various stages of healing our capacity for empathy will wax and wane. Nothing is permanent.
  11. reallydown

    reallydown I'm a VIP

    Thanks for that Boo--nicely put...yeah...sometimes it's not that I don't want to be there...but I (and this may sound weird) I just don't know how to be there for someone in a way that's helpful...
  12. Nam

    Nam I'm a VIP

    I had/still have huge problems with this. My husband claims I'm really insensitive to other people's feelings. Well, when someone is crying because for some stupid reason when I can't even cry at a funeral of a close friend, well, it drives me nuts! It goes for anger too. People who fight about everything....just makes me want to scream. Especially nitpicking type fights. I had to leave my previous workplace because of this (just one of many reasons). Fifty women, working with pregnant/laboring women, gives nice a back drop for gossip/nitpicking spats.

    On the other hand, I AM able to cry. But only by myself. I HATE crying in front of people. It just makes me want to run. I have a suspicion where this came from since I wasn't allowed to cry during my punishments as a kid. For example, no matter who the person is, I can NOT cry in front of someone with authority without fear. That includes the therapist, husband, older sibling, parents... I guess I cry the easiest around my children when in presence of someone.

    Thanks for bringing this up, because I really didn't think it was PTSD related. That I was just a harda$$. Maybe it's something I should work on.
  13. Boo-Damphir

    Boo-Damphir Active Member

    I'm wondering too if maybe our intolerance for others extreme emotions (crying, arguing, etc.) may be related to our intolerance for too much external stimuli?
    There are days when I can't stand the TV on because of the "noise." Or I have to turn the TV off when my husband is talking to me because I can't focus on him and I get aggitated.

    Dealing with other people crying is tough. If you know the person well, sometimes not saying anything but putting your arm around them or your hand on theirs is immensly powerful. If you don't know them well, a simple "I'm sorry you are so sad" is appropriate. Usually when people are crying they don't need someone to diagnose and understand them, just be there for them.
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