Tuesday, January 8, 2008

No Sympathy if You Don’t Try to Change

This is a little thing I live by whether its right or wrong. Don't get me wrong, I can sympathize, empathize, show compassion, and feel bad for someone if they are in a crappy situation. I am not a heart of stone. However, if after a certain amount of time of hearing the same complaints over and over and knowing the person has done nothing to change their predicament; I lose the sympathy and just get tired of listening. I have been known to tell people after years of the same problem that unless they do something about it, I don’t want to hear about it anymore.

Sometimes I have to take a look at myself and see if I am doing the same thing to others. I have been struggling with work lately and have even written a couple blog posts on it, because it really has been crappy and has been affecting my moods. A couple of you told me that maybe I should be looking for a change. That hit home to me, because really I wasn’t doing anything to improve the situation yet sulking and complaining was the natural release.

So I am pleased to announce that I did take steps to improve my work situation. At first I struggled because I didn’t think I had very many options being pregnant and all. But I posted my resume on Monster and was surprised of the response I got. I still didn’t think I would be a great candidate when they learned of my pregnancy so I didn’t pursue any of those too much. Plus the stress of starting a new job at a new company doesn’t sound like fun. But to know I had options really improved my self esteem and quieted some doubts. Luckily a position opened up at my work in a different department and although it will be a significant pay cut since it’s not a managerial position, it will allow me to work part time and at home after the baby is born at an hourly wage that is very good! I couldn’t be more excited or feel more blessed. Not only will I not have the stressors of management- meetings, confrontations, hiring, firings, dealing with senior management, etc. but I will be able to have the ideal setup and I won’t be working for my boss which has been the hardest thing.

It’s not completely official but it looks like it will be happening very soon. Thanks to everyone for your advice. I really do listen, promise. And now hopefully my complaints will go down as well which is better for everyone.

Moral of the story: Are you one of those people that when encountering a problem, take action to change your plight or do you thrive on the sympathy and attention you get from others, maybe from your anxiety or panic attacks?

That might sound like a silly question but it happens. We may not even realize it, but deep down we may be benefiting from having anxiety and don’t really want to give up that benefit. The question is what are we gaining? Is it really worth it? Do you thrive on the attention for example? Maybe your spouse picks up the slack in other areas of life that you don’t want to deal with such as housework, taking care of the kids, and the finances. There are so many possibilities. It’s interesting to think about, and to weigh whether the subtle benefits are worth the crippling effect of anxiety. If you decide to give them up, then change is the next step. Change can be a career change like me for example, a break in a relationship, a trip to the doctor, to the bookstore, out of your front door. It could be going out with a friend, taking a chance on a new relationship, etc.

So what kind of person are you?

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Molly said...

SO proud of you for taking control!!!

Take Care

Anonymous said...

I can see how you can get frustrated with people who complain and yet repeat the same negative patterns. Lately I try to have compassion for them, mainly because I see my own long-term struggles to overcome negative habits reflected in their struggles.

The benefits of anxiety are real. I think this is a problem of short-term versus long-term benefits. In the long-term, I know I "should" network with other professionals, be more social, etc. In the short-term, on a daily basis, it's "easier" to find reasons to avoid those situations.

molly said...

We can tell a friend "I am afraid you are settling for victimhood." But if one is willing to take responsability and be proactive we may need to be patient.

Aimée said...

I agree that people do have long term problems and thats not cause enough to not sympathize. I am a perfect example with my anxiety. I don't just shut off the compassion because of a date. Its more of the attitude the person carries and what the person is willing to do about it. If you avoid social situations because thats easier, than I can understand and sympathize with you. But if after years of you turning down party invitations, it would be frustrating if all you did was complain about never having friends. Thats what I am getting at. But you are right, compassion is the better way to go.

Aimée said...


I LOVE that phrase "settling for victimhood." And I agree 100% that if they are being proactive, we should be patient and help in any way we can. Thanks for the great thought.

Anonymous said...

OOOhhhhh I know what you mean!!! I am a sympathetic empathetic person but people who complain about situations contantly yet never do anything to change it really get my goat. I understand there is a certin element of fear there but if that is so accept you are too scared to change and quit complaining. After a while I think it just becomes an attention seeking thing, and also if someone is always empathising with you about your situation is confirms and reaffirms how you view yourself and your situation.

In situations like that now when a constant complainer is moaning to me I cut them off and cut the attention supply, I know it sounds cruel but if they stop getting the attention they crave they may just stand up and do something about what is dragging them down.

Well done you for taking control!

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