ACoAs & LISTENING (Part 3)

listening to herYOU MEAN I HAVE TO
be happy for someone else?

PREVIOUS:  ACoAs & Listening (#2)

SITE: The SKILL of LISTENING  ** w/ EXP (Center for Parenting Education)

REVIEW posts : “Healthy Helping

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

QUOTE: “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen”~ Epictetus 

REMINDER: Accurate & compassionate listening means we don’t try to make the other person a carbon copy of us. Even if we strongly identify, listening is about THEM – where they’re at, what they’re feeling & thinking. Don’t talk about yourself too much. You are the listen-er, they are the listen-ee.

3. (AWhen someone wants you to listen to them AND it’s a practical issue (lack of funds, health or relationship problems…..) (in Part 2)

#3 VARIATION (re. actions)
(A) When someone wants you to listen to them AND asks you directly to tell them what to do
a. Naturally if you are sought out as a professional (doctor, decorator, coach, teacher, lawyer…) you’re paid to give your expert opinion & advice.
— However, for psychologists, psychotherapists…  the rules are different. The goal is more about mirroring, giving feedback (true listening), providing the client with options & helping them find what’s right for themselves.

For the rest of us who are not being paid, teach or heal, there are options.
• ASK if they want ‘advice’ OR information – not the same thing!

Advice is telling someone what you think they should do, be, feel, think based on yourself, not who they are! No matter how right or helpful the info is, it’s not listening.

Information is giving knowledge they may not have, including options, without an emotional valence attached. They can use it or not, as they wish We often tell people to DO things they’re already tried. Don’t waste their time or yours! Good listening is hard for ACoAs, but worth the effort!

i. When you know the listen-ee well, you probably know —
if they already know what to do – but in this case refuse. Don’t push
that they may know, but really do need some help implementing a solution.
Suggest someone else who is qualifies & willing, or if it doesn’t harm you, you can offer, but think twice before you do

— that they really don’t know. Then you can decide IF you want to give them info, or suggest where they can get it (on Google, from Al-Anon or AA,  some books you recommend….)

ii. If it’s someone you just met or don’t know well, start by asking some pertinent questions —
— What do they WANT from you? What are they really asking for & how much? See posts “Healthy Helping”. If you can get that far with them, the conversation may take a different turn than how it started

— What have they done about their problem / situation so far? & how have those things turned out? This saves time & energy suggesting things they’ve already covered.
• If they’ve tried a number of things which have all been disappointing, there may be absolutely nothing you can contribute. OR they didn’t try something useful because they didn’t know about it – so you can offer it

• IF their response to any suggestions is always a version of “Yes but… that won’t work / I can’t because….” then either you’re asking the wrong questions or they’re playing the “Yes, But” game from Games People Play, by Eric Berne.

In the latter case they don’t actually want an answer, they want to be parented AND be contrary, which is a child’s way of saying “You can’t control me.” It may be a version of “Come here-Go away“(posts).

With such a person, only try 2-3 times, then shut up. 😑

NEXT: What just Happened? – #1

ACoAs & LISTENING (Part 2)

Screen Shot 2016-06-19 at 5.12.58 AMI FEEL SO POWERLESS
if I don’t DO something to help!

PREVIOUS: ACoAs & Listening (#1)

POSTS: Anxiety & T.E.A

proverb: “If Speaking is Silver, then LISTENING is GOLD”

LISTENING ‘situations’
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. (AWhen 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.Screen Shot 2016-06-19 at 5.18.42 AM

• 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 answersScreen Shot 2016-06-19 at 5.14.43 AM

• 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)

ACoAs & LISTENING (Part 1)

… I have to make them feel better!

PREVIOUS: Healthy Opposites #3

POSTS: How ACoAs Abandon Others

can be passive or active, but basically – the less said the better!
Wanting to be listened to is not always asked for directly. When someone starts talking & then keeps going & going – they want to be heard.

• The following 3 examples cover T.E.A. In each case, if the WIC or PP are the ones listening, then what we think are ‘helping’ responses will actually be our own narcissism – the compulsion to tell them what WE would do or say – but is actually NOT about the other person & so not useful. Don’t get in the way of someone else’s process!

LISTENING ‘situations’ 

1. (E) When someone wants you to listen to them, AND they’re having intense emotions (sadness, anger, fear…),

🔓AND you tell them they shouldn’t feel that way – “Don’t be upset”
💚OR automatically tell them how to fix their problem – “You can….”

👣👣 then you’re trampling on their right to feel & express their emotions without interference.
EXP: After my fire, when I told people how sad I was that both my cats were killed by the smoke, some people said: “Well then get new cats”!

ACoAs who react from their WIC to another person’s emotional expression will over-identify with their distress. Since we didn’t get the support as kids that we needed, we project that on to others, & decide (usually unawares) that we’ll never be like our parents – to leave someone in the lurch. We compulsively have to ‘help’.

PROBLEM with this WIC-logic (T)
When we were originally abandoned, we were very young! But the people we’re usually trying to rescue to now are adults who have many resources & capacities no child can possibly have. So they don’t need us the way we needed someone to soothe us when we were in pain as kids. (See posts: “Rescuing – False helping” and “Healthy Helping“)
ALSO, we’re not their parent, no matter how immaturely they may act!

🖤 Negating a person’s emotions or trying to make them ‘feel better’ wastes everyone’s time because,
• the listen-ee may just shut down & not be able to continue, OR
• they’ll waste a lot of energy convincing you how & why they feel that way
Rule #1 : YES, zip the lip!
OR if you can’t :  ASK them what they’re feeling – emotionally.
Don’t settle for HEAD answers. Ask what they’re feeling emotionally vs. what are they’re thinking. Anything more than one word (E) is a thought (T). (“Feelings Aren’t Facts”)

If they’re not sure, maybe you can help them identify the words, such as fear, self-hate, frustration OR excitement, joy, love… If you also aren’t clear about what they may be experiencing, be quiet.

• If you’re in the ‘mood’ to respond to their comments, always start by validating whatever emotions they can verbalize. It doesn’t mean that you identify with the feelings or the situation, nor is that necessary. You can say brief, comforting things like:

“Wow, that’s tough, I know what you mean, Sorry to hear that, I’ve been there too….”
Screen Shot 2016-06-19 at 5.06.00 AM“Sound like you’re in a lot of pain, That must really make you angry. Ouch!”.

But, DO NOT assume you’re sure you know how someone feels. If they disagree with your opinion, drop it.

A POSSIBILITY – with their permission
If you know them well, have experienced something similar AND you feel like it – you could help them figure out what’s behind their big emotions: old beliefs, the WIC over-reacting, family patters, current similarity to childhood experiences….
Then if they’re willing & able to go deep, the solution to their problem may be obvious to them without any more help from you.

NEXT: ACoAs & Listening (Part 2)