People want sympathy, not Solutions
I was sharing thoughts with a friend over dinner. We talked about how sometimes we get frustrated in a conversation that is trapped in an endless loop. Our first impulse is offer help–“I will go with you to …” or “Have you thought of doing….?” We have to catch ourselves because the speaker doesn’t want our solution to the problem, they want our sympathy. We aren’t always sympathetic because we don’t want to be an enabler or foster co-dependence. But if their actions and emotions don’t have a negative impact on my life, I can offer the mummer of acceptance, and comment like, “It does seem like that situation is still difficult for you. ” Rather than coming up with a solution, I may ask, “Is there anything today or this week that has brought you a moment of delight to help with the darkness/sorrow/pain that you are struggling with?” Life is abundant with both the joys and sorrows but it easy to focus on one end of the spectrum or the other.
You Don’t Have to Prove that You are the Smartest Person in the Room
When someone shares an idea which I don’t agree and I can shred their statement to ribbons because it is ludicrous, I don’t. I have come to the realization that I will only win points in a debate class or journal club –not with others in my life. The 3 basic human needs are: A sense of belonging, a sense of accomplishment, and a sense of enjoyment. Debating with logic and facts doesn’t enhance any of these needs. Will the world come to an end if I DON’T share the difference between a viral and bacterial infection, in great depth with scientific references, when someone complains that the doctor didn’t give them an antibiotic for their viral cold? Probably not. Better to say, “Gee I hope you feel better soon. I hate the symptoms that you are experiencing too.”
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
“Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.”
― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching