I've started writing this little story about a lady named Pearl and at one point she tells me she wants me to say something about people asking how she is doing and then turning it around and making it about themselves. (I know this sounds crazy but sometimes I write stories like this...just let the character tell me what to write...yea, I know...sometimes I feel like I'm two tacos short of the combination plate!)
But you know what I mean, right? It is almost like the asked question becomes a competitive forum for their own issues, problems and experiences.
And I was thinking about that.
I don't like when people take a situation and compete with it. There you are, vulnerable, telling the truth of your soul and someone takes what you're telling and negates it by some quantifying remark. I know this has happened to you. The person says, "you don't seem like yourself, is anything wrong?" and then you say, "OK, yea, gee, I'm feeling down because I have to have surgery" and then they reply, "You think that's bad? I had 12 surgeries in a 27 day time frame AND I still went to work every day while training for the marathon."
And you stand there feeling like a moron. And you feel like your emotion and worry has suddenly become minor and invalid. And you wonder "why did you even ask me?"
It totally astonishes me.
I'm not talking about when we're talking to a friend or reading a blog and we tell about our own experiences to help someone through. To help them understand they aren't alone. Common ground can be comforting. And then "Is this really about me" becomes "can my life experiences help you." And that's cool. And great. And I love when people offer this as comfort.
But I've seen the competitive interjection and that makes me sad. And angry.
It always reminds me of a movie I saw once where the guy was showing a surgical scar, and then the lady showed hers, and then he showed another one...and pretty soon it became a big "you think that's bad? Look at this!" match!
Why do people do that anyway?
Because really when a person is sharing their pain or showing their scars, it's because they need me to listen and to show I understand. Not to compete with them.
So, yea. Even though I'm missing the tacos, I'm still thankful that Pearl told me about this.
And I'm going to be more careful.
So next time if you want to share something with me, I promise I won't show you my appendectomy or hysterectomy scars even though they are probably wayyyy bigger than any scars you have.
OK. I need to work on putting this philosophy into practice.
And next time, I'll try really, really hard to not make it about me!