Reactions that reflect

My friendship groups have always been quite varied, but I have attracted people with some pretty scary life stories. Children who have grown up in care, friends with mental illness, people with sad relationships. I think we all have this in our lives, but it’s our actions as to how we interact with this that reveal aspects of ourselves.

If we have a friend who talks about the latest argument they have had and our most instant reaction is to empathise and see things entirely from their perspective. Endorsing everything that is said and speaking as if the slight had happened to you, with appropriate outrage and indignation. I have been this person who both offered this sort endorsement and also wanted it from others. It is good to want to feel right, to feel that our actions are just and considered, that the other person was entirely at fault. Post break ups in my life have been a particularly bad time for this. This I feel is sad as it really focuses everything in on the most horrible parts of the relationship, and can be the entire lasting memory of that relationship.

But what if we aren’t right, when we aren’t right? Is indulging this sort of endorsement really a good thing? Possibly it is, in some circumstances when somebody is really low, they haven’t got the energy left to consider the rationale behind why something happened. And when they have, do we still consider this approach to them or do we try something more confrontational?

This is possible as soon as we have identified in our own lives, things that we are not justified for doing, things and behaviours that were very much not okay. At this point, we can recognise in others what we have already learnt for ourselves.

When I have wanted to be indulged (thinking of a particularly bad breakup)I have wanted to be endorsed, because I was too scared to admit that I was flawed. I was feeling fragile and wanted to be looked after. And there have been others times where I have sat with a group of friends where everyone is identifying with the person telling the sad story, and I have called them out (in a gentle way) asking them questions rather than overlaying their words with my replica. It is massively socially endorsing to repeat someone’s words back to them, in a slightly different way, but by doing so, you are keeping that person fixed in the past. Whereas starting to look beyond these situations, asking pertinent questions and moving forward; that is healing.

Map Point. How do react to the issues of others?


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