Please don’t offer your empathy if you genuinely don’t mean it

I get it. We’re human beings; powered with thoughts, feelings, and actions. In a way we can all understand that basically life sucks. At times for some, it sucks pretty much all the time. Some give up opportunities to express how they really feel to people who are actually empathetic. Why? – Because there are only a handful of people who can really empathize with you. People who you can sit down with and gut out all your feelings and thoughts. Not worried to feel judged or even more insecure than you already are. Just someone to tell you that it will be alright, take it one day as it comes, and give gratitude that you’re alive for another day to grow. Unfortunately, its as rare as they come; to actually feel for the person and offer a helping hand even if they are just words.

I now have horrible struggles with talking when I need to talk or express my feelings the way I need to. I basically had an epiphany when I was journaling -The only thing I am really able to do- that it really is not me, or the way I come off and address things. The biggest reason was because of other people. Yep, maybe just like you I was never heard. Not even literally heard sometimes which made me give up talking.

Story Time!

I want to say maybe my sophomore year in high school is when everything really hit the fan. I was struggling hardcore with my depression, self harm, suicidal ideation, trouble in school, trouble sleeping, etc. Because this was my life at the time, I excluded myself; all I really wanted was to be left alone. I had my fair share of jock jerks that pushed me over my limit at times, so I was basically alone. Anyway, I was sitting in my English class – I actually really liked English and I would read my life away – My teacher was standing up there normally giving us a lesson and speaking about an upcoming project. and she said; “If anyone needs to talk at all, I am always hear and my door is always open” I figured that was my chance. She seemed genuine and understanding so I gave it a shot around lunch time to finally fess up my feelings for just someone to talk to. I began to babble and began to cry just a little when she stopped me, looked at me, and said; “Vanessa, I don’t know what you were expecting with this but I hope you weren’t expecting an extension on the project……” That’s all I remember because I just automatically zoned out due to the giant flush of embarrassment and just in plain awe. All I wanted was to confide in someone and someone could at least help me. Not for a damn grade. I obviously was an outcast, I obviously was struggling in school, and I obviously was struggling elsewhere. I never looked at her the same way ever again, and that’s where it all began. When anyone say those words I shutter.

Just a few things you should just never do when you offer someone to talk include:

Comparing

-Please don’t compare your burdens when someone needs a confidant. Everyone is unique, everyone copes differently, everyone has problems that are a big deal. We all have problems, it doesn’t help when people feel the need to make their lives much worse than yours even though you’re already almost over the edge. Take a minute to think of a scenario where you are trying to console someone and all they say is; “Yeah? you should have my job, its much worse” “Sucks about your childhood, but……” NO, Just NO. You’re left feeling embarrassed and feeling like you’re a worthless baby but you’re not. And your depression plummets. Don’t be that jerk who makes you feel bad for feeling the way you do.

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Blaming

-Please don’t point out the blame when someone is expressing their thoughts and feelings about their lives. We already feel like absolutely everything is our fault even when its not. Pointing out what could have been avoided or what you should have done doesn’t help either. Trust me, I pointed that out a couple anxiety attacks ago…. I got it! People with anxiety and depression already think every burden in their lives is their fault even when its not. Don’t point out faults or blame for things that could have been avoided.

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Oversharing

-Please don’t overshare your life when you offer a helping hand and some listening ears. This is another “fun” one I always encounter. I only tend to get a sentence in and the person begins sharing a novel about theirs. No, I will not confide with you maybe after the second time it happens. Sure, some tidbits about your life may be inspirational or helpful, but an hour later completely forgetting that someone comes to talk for guidance. Actually listen and come back with appropriate feedback that wont make the person feel completely worthless.

“You’re just over reacting”

-Just because its not your life, nothing is actually an over reaction. Any reaction is normal and okay. If you were to put yourself in that persons shoes at that very moment,  maybe you would “over over react” and then laugh at yourself.  Its almost like if I were to stub my toe on the coffee table and throw the lamp out of anger, you may think I was ridiculous until you stub your toe and throw the whole couch. When you are there for someone to talk to, let them ride their reactions and feelings. Its a moment for someone to decide for themselves.

Please do:

  • Offer the positive points in someone who only sees the negative and try to turn it around.
  • Listen 
  • Try to put yourself in their position and see how you would feel about it.
  • If someone expresses their having a difficult time and you really don’t know how to talk but offer anyway, just don’t. I would rather someone say; “I’m sorry you’re having a troubling time. I’m not really good at things like this.” When people tell me this, it actually doesn’t offend me at all. Its cool, I understand, not everyone knows how to deal!

-Everyone in a way wants to help, but if you cant, please don’t offer if you really mean it.

Be there for someone…. literally there for someone!

I would love to hear your input or any stories about things you’ve experienced when someone was there but not really there to talk to!

Have a beautiful day!

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