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Too much empathy? - Phil's Rambling Rants — LiveJournal
July 5th, 2005
12:27 am


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Too much empathy?
A friend said something in their journal about a feeling that their friends were only friends out of pity, so they had to be careful not to impose too much on them lest their annoyance outweigh their pity.

I said this in a comment there:  I've never been conscious of the feeling that people only did things with me out of pity, but I am frequently conscious of not wanting to intrude on people and of always imagining the worst case scenario of how something could turn out and letting that inhibit me from talking to someone or trying to join in an activity.  It keeps me from forming many social relationships deeper than casual recognition.

I felt that was significant enough for me that I wanted to repeat it in my own journal.  I feel that I spend a lot of time alone because I'm afraid to reach out and make connections with others, not because I'm afraid of their hurting me, but because I'm afraid of offending or hurting them by saying the wrong thing or being in the way.  It seems like most people don't take care enough about how others feel to let it influence their actions, but I feel cursed by caring too much.

Any discussion?  Insightful comments?  Mental keys to avoiding the trap of letting the imagined worst case scenario keep me from saying or doing anything?

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(6 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:July 5th, 2005 02:32 pm (UTC)


Its a matter of trust, Phil.

You've got to get to a point where you trust people enough to tell you how they really feel, and be ready to accept that from them. If people would rather you're not around, or feel you're intruding, hopefully they will tell you that, and until that time (feel free to moderate as needed) don't worry about it. Politeness can flip back upon itself and become a severely limiting factor in a person's growth.

I go through bouts of this quite often. I just remind myself that you cannot build a relationship where you are constantly not trusting the other people to be honest with you. If I am taking that trust from them (or not giving them that trust) then I am at fault. I take it by making decisions for the other person. For example, "Im sure they dont want to spend time with me, they surely have something better to do". Or I do not give it pretty much the same way. "They didnt call, so that means they dont really want to see me". I call it "having conversations with myself". You can get so wrapped up in "trying to see the angles" and "playing all sides" that you start managing to reject yourself pre-emptively. Hurts a little less when you're the one doing the rejecting, but only slightly.
[User Picture]
Date:July 5th, 2005 04:17 pm (UTC)
No answers, but it is something I have noticed that I do too. In my case I think it is low self-esteem. I see others as more important than myself and will try to keep others from being hurt, sometimes to my detriment.

I do notice that as life goes on I am getting a bit better at standing up for myself. It kind of depends on my state of mind at the time. Then again, perhaps I am just becoming a crotchety old woman.
[User Picture]
Date:July 5th, 2005 05:33 pm (UTC)
I don't get all this human stuff. Sometimes you just have to make an ass of yourself. And I think most people got more practice making asses of themselves at a younger age than some of us, and learned through trial and error how much you can make an ass of yourself and get away with it. I'm still working it out.

About all I have figured out is that if you ask friendly people for friendly interaction they won't really take offense, even if they say no. I'm actually lucky to have had a roommate in college with some commons sense, which I lack. He had noticed that I was so pre-emptively assuming rejection that I would say no to any invitation that I was extended because I figured they really didn't mean it. The result was that I coud appear to be downright hostile to people.

I haven't really gotten to the point where I am very good at inviting others for a friendly, fun activity, though.

It's just hard.
Date:July 5th, 2005 07:24 pm (UTC)
Ask, let folks know that you are trying something new and want feedback.
"I'm workign at expanding my social outgings but want to make sure I don't impose, PLEASE let me know when I invite myself to something that I shouldn't have because I am trying to learn this social nuance"
[User Picture]
Date:July 5th, 2005 11:14 pm (UTC)

being friends

i have found that i felt much more accepted by the groups in my life when i truly accepted myself. There have been plenty of times when i tried to get accepted by other groups of friends and have been shut out or blocked. i figure its their loss and move on. Then i realize i have a great group of friends around me who accept and love me. i just needed to accept them.

first thing is to recognize which friends you already have that will not get upset with you no matter what you say. they my hurt you,in a loving way,yet they will still accept you.

these are the friend you can try your "new self" with. as you feel more confident with us, you can branch out to new people( we will be happy to watch you) jesting aside, talk out your plan, accept that the worst will usually not happen, have a go at it. Vocal practice can help get the words out of your mouth.

you have come such a long way, your growth, confidence, music, speach, has all improved tremendously since i have know you. Many people have commented on your growth.
your willingness to continue to grow is commendable.

[User Picture]
Date:July 6th, 2005 12:14 am (UTC)

Me too, Phil.

Y'know, it's a shame we rarely talked or connected in person at a filk con, because we're both similar in this respect. Even though I may appear to be outgoing and gregarious, I'm still shy and introverted. I hate to intrude on other people's social circles. I've done too much of that in the past. I don't jump into filk circles or conversations because I'm afraid I'll be stepping on someone else's toes. And yes, I worry that I'll say the wrong thing to someone and that person will run away.

For me, I've learned that I'm bigger than my fears, that I should step through the fear and Just Do It, regardless of the outcome. Most of teh time, it works, and a few times, it doesn't.

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