I FEEL SO POWERLESS
if I don’t DO something to help!
PREVIOUS: ACoAs & Listening (#1)
POSTS: Anxiety & T.E.A
Turkish proverb: “If Speaking is Silver, then LISTENING is GOLD”
LISTENING ‘situations’ (cont)
1. (E) When someone wants you to listen to them AND….
2. (E) When someone wants you to listen to them AND they’re expressing intense emotions (sadness, anger, fear…)
BUT their emotional state sounds ‘crazy, irrational, ‘out of proportion’ to the current situation, remember: “If it’s Hysterical, it’s Historical”. It usually means their WIC is in the foreground, who is expressing intense old pain – accumulated from childhood trauma.
It’s not your job to parent them & you’re not their therapist. Here too – trying to make them feel better can be heard by them as denying their experience!
CAVEAT: If you’re listening to someone deep into the emotion of self-hate, there’s very little you can do to make a difference in that moment.
DO NOT try to talk someone out of Self-Hate. It’s futile. Their WIC has completely regressed into a familiar childhood state & locked in for the time being.
Because S-H is about denying the pain of abandonment & trying to avoid feeling vulnerable, while having a little control over their sense of hopelessness (S-H gives a false sense of power) – they’re not going to come out of it right away.
◆ You could say: “Wow,_____, I hear that you’re really beating yourself up mercilessly. Why is that?”
◆ You can also ask: “What’s happened recently that hurt you or disappointed you so much?”
If you think they’ll understand, you can gently suggest they’re feeling some deep childhood abandonment
◆ If appropriate, you could add your own reaction: “Your self-hate is really painful for me to hear. It’s like watching someone I care about cut themselves or shoot heroin!”
Yes, that’s how devastating S-H is!
💝 💘 💔
3. (A) When someone wants you to listen to them AND it’s a practical issue (lack of funds, health or relationship problems…..)
AND you insist on offering a way for them to solve their problem (actions)
you’ve actually failed them, strange as it may seem, because…..
….. when you do for them what they can AND need to do for themselves, you contribute to their sense of inadequacy & fear of taking appropriate risks.
And they can do things for themselves. As adults, they’re not helpless. Maybe discouraged & faltering, but not helpless. Maybe all they need is information – but it has to be something they can apply for themselves.
(Review posts: “Rescuing – False helping” and “Healthy Helping“)
• ACoAs would rather do for others that themselves. It’s our training & a great distraction from taking care of ourselves- which we don’t want to do.
• IRONY: we use a great deal of intelligence, creativity, money, time – even wisdom – on someone else, BUT genuinely believe we don’t know how to handle our own problems! How is that possible, when we just used all those skills for others?
• REALITY: We use up a lot of energy trying to save someone else, while silently expecting, even demanding, that someone else do the same for us! WE too want to be taken care of, even though we too have the ability to care for ourselves.
• Rule #1, again – zip the lip!
• Often people just need a non-judgmental sounding board – to hear themselves think. By running it past a good listener, they can hear the problem for what it is, maybe even find their own answers
• You can ASK if they need practical suggestions, but only give it IF….
…. they say yes & they seem willing to do for themselves (not just trying to be taken care of, or need to be oppositional)
…. you actually know, maybe from experience, what you’re talking about
• You need to CHECK what they….
…. want to do, in the near future
…. have already done, but for some reason didn’t work or didn’t help!
NEXT: ACoAs & Listening (Part 3)
One thought on “ACoAs & LISTENING (Part 2)”
Thanks for this article, I found it really helpful. I’m a chronic ‘helper!’