An Easier, Softer Way

“I instinctively want to fix problems, and they don’t have to be mine. In fact, most of the time they’re not… doing for others what they need to do for themselves… enabled them to be irresponsible… robs others of the self-esteem that comes from struggling with and conquering the challenges…” Hope For Today

I can’t speak for women, but as a man, and a sponsor of many other men, I can tell you that this desire to “fix” runs very deep for many of us. It’s actually been one of the biggest problems in my relationship with others. Instead of listening and having empathy (or at least compassion), I offer solutions. Today I realize that, unless I’m asked for help, usually others just want me to listen and love. When I do this, instead of trying to offer my unsolicited opinion and advice, my relationships go a whole lot smoother. Grateful for all these wonderful tools. ILML! – James

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3 thoughts on “An Easier, Softer Way

  1. That is very true. Most solutions that make sense to us, don’t apply to others, anyway. And they don’t make the other feel listened to, like you say, it doesn’t show empathy.

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    • That’s right. Took me a long time to understand what empathy was. My wife and I used to be in RCA (Recovering Couples Anonymous). That program, and particularly our sponsor couple in my opinion, actually kept us together during a rough patch. Anyway, once when my wife was crying during a sponsorship meeting, I was told that it didn’t seem like I had empathy for her. I was then asked to spend 5 minutes (and they set a timer) remembering a time when I was crying like that. At first I resisted in silence, pretending to do it. Then I vividly remembered once, when I was 15 years old, being on my single bed in boarding school, crying hard like her. My mom had told me I couldn’t come home for Thanksgiving that year. The family had voted that, with my drinking, I created too much drama and they wanted a peaceful holiday for once. I allowed myself to feel the sadness and hurt from that time, my eyes got wet, and I turned to my wife, saying “Baby, I know how you feel, I’m so sorry”. We hugged. All I can say is “thank God for great sponsors”. In that moment I learned that, in order to truly feel empathy, I have to be willing to allow myself to really feel the feeling another person is experiencing. Often times it’s not what I want to do, but if intimacy is ultimately my goal, it’s one of the paths I can take to get there. Thanks for your comment!

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      • I had never heard of RCA. That’s something I’m going to look into, it might help us as well.
        You’re very welcome :)

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