The Pitfall of Pity

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Bloomie

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The Pitfall of Pity
« on: October 17, 2018, 12:28:19 PM »
I have been thinking a lot about how I got into the mess I found myself in a few years back where the number of unhealthy draining relationships far outweighed the uplifting healthy ones.

I embrace that innately I am easily moved to compassion and sympathy for others like the majority of us here. To support someone who is hurting or experiencing difficulty in their lives and lend a helping hand is one of the greatest joys of my life.

So, if compassion and empathy are a joy and an innate part of my humanity why does a dear friend and mentor caution me on a fairly regular basis to stop coddling people?  :unsure: When I am moved by another person's story as they share in a group why does this wise friend, who I trust with my life and whole heart, look me in the eyes and say: "Stop it bloomie." Without me having said a single word to indicate the inner rush of compassion and drive to help and solve the problem that I am feeling as I listen.  :blush:

I have always believed that every strength when taken to the extreme becomes a weakness. At the other end of the spectrum of compassion and sympathy lies the pitfall of pity and a whole lotta FOG and represents THE unhealthy place I was living in relationship with others for a very long time.

I came across an article from where I found the phrase "pitfall of pity"

https://chopra.com/articles/the-difference-between-compassion-and-pity and written by Tris Thorp that says this:

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Sympathy comes from the ancient Greek word sunpathos, which includes the concept of suffering and pity, whereas empathy comes from the Greek word empátheia, which means passion. To actually feel someone's pain is to be empathetic, and to be passionate to help that person create a different experience. This usually has a positive effect on both individuals.

The Pitfall of Pity
While it’s true that there is tremendous suffering in this world, assuming that another is suffering has the potential to make matters worse. In some cases a sympathetic reaction to their suffering may perpetuate their level of pain.

Patanjali, in the Yoga Sutras says, "To curse the act of falling down on the path may be to curse the very thing you needed to experience to take the next step." In other words, if you take pity on another’s experience you may prevent them from finding the deeper lesson they are about to gain.

The downside of pity is that you are potentially seeing the person as being “less than,” and may in some way contribute to their suffering. In an extreme, seeing someone as a victim holds that person in the space of being a victim.

Closer to the bone for me would be to say that seeing a person as broken and lost, in a poor state of emotional/physical/spiritual health and seemingly or reportedly helpless to help themselves, has held them in that helpless state as I felt pity for them. 

More than likely my rushing in has, in our relationship anyway, prevented them "from finding the deeper lesson they are about to gain." :upsidedown:

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True agents of compassion, like Mother Theresa, never see the people they help as victims, rather as individuals who are going through painful moments. This requires a more empathetic reaction. When you look upon those in need with compassionate eyes, you can act as a support or lend a helping hand if needed.

During difficult times, it’s powerful and healing to have someone who can be there to hold a safe space for you. With empathy-based compassion, you share the experience with another. You feel that person's pain, you’re there for them, hand-in-hand, as a source of support and guidance.

There is someone that has been in my life for a decade. I quickly had sympathy for this lady as she shared her many struggles and revealed a past history of childhood neglect and sexual abuse. About one year in I realized this person was stuck in a depressed and sad place living on the edges of financial ruin and circling round the same issues over and over again despite the many hands reaching out to pull her out of the pit and to safety - including my own.

This friend quickly came to count on and trade in spades on my sympathy. (I believe she shows signs of uBPD waif type with strong N tendencies and is highly manipulative) I came to see her as broken and lost and she welcomed that role.

I have come to realize that even though from a pure and loving heart my pity for her put her in a perpetually lost state and I see now a "less than" position and she became reliant on me and I assumed responsibility for her in ways that were completely out of balance and unhealthy for both of us.

The relationship inevitably broke down because that imbalance is unsustainable and as I sort through it I can see that I contributed to her suffering by entering into a relationship with her that didn't recognize her as "an individual who was going through painful moments".

I have deep regrets for adding to her suffering and not understanding that a prolonged posture of pity for another person does not help them or honor them and is evidence in my life of a strength taken to an extreme and manifesting as weakness and has hurt myself and others.  :'(

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Fightsong

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Re: The Pitfall of Pity
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2018, 01:15:19 PM »
Bloomie, something comes to mind - ‘ forgive yourself for not knowing then what seems so clear now in retrospect ‘ ( or something of that sort).  What you are speaking of here is deep work of self knowledge , about your deepest most innate motivations. That which for whatever reason  nourished you and fulfilled you, though you didn’t understand why.

And yes these things often work sadly to the detriment of yourself / ourselves and others and our relationships. Which is painful.

Sometimes the realisation  makes those motivations feel dirtied. I hear something of that in your post - perhaps regret? Or if only it / you had been different? Haven’t we all heard that voice before?

When I first realised one of my deepest motivational forces ( something like pity perhaps/ wanting to ‘help’) arose out of abuse , I was  a bit disgusted with myself. I had to reshape that in order to live with it. For without being ‘that person’ I was useless.  It was and maybe still is at times  a powerful driving force but now I know it and can be vigilant for it.   I can allow it to play out within safe boundaries. ( a quality that isn’t allowed to become something that weakens me and my interactions) . Like your friend, who is maybe being vigilant on your behalf.

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all4peace

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Re: The Pitfall of Pity
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2018, 03:35:41 PM »
So timely. This is a message that I need implanted into my brain and heart and soul, deeply and fully. It has been one of the biggest aspects of my healing journey, slowly and very painfully coming to this realization. I have had to completely re-work the way I see myself as a human because of this message. I have seen myself as loving, helpful, someone who would do anything for anyone. A huge part of my journey that did the final job of vaulting me out of this view was my reading on the enneagram. When my personality type at a lower level of health "helps" others, it isn't from a place of purity. It's from a place of getting my needs met via helping others. And that is truly dishonoring of others, their own capacity, their own wishes, their own journey. When I am not healthy, I impose myself on others, believing myself to be good and loving, when I really am not in the truest sense of love.

Some of the most loving things I have now finally done in a state of much better health is to speak very hard and painful words to those I have loved. Words that could end the relationship with me. Words that could hurt them (but not harm them). Words that took incredible overcoming of fear for me to speak. And that is probably the most empathetic thing I have ever done.

One thing that helped me more fully integrate the message you are sharing is to consider how I have been as a mother with my children. I have known from the beginning that the end goal was raising young adults who didn't rely on me, independence/interdependence, fully launched adults. My love for them allowed me to watch them struggle....learning to dress themselves, learning to comb their hair, learning to make friends, learning sports, learning time management, learning responsibility in their new jobs, learning how to leave home and move far away. I have always been by their side, ready to help, in what capacity felt appropriate or necessary at the time. But I would have considered it deeply unloving to simply take over for them, do it for them, and not allow them to figure out how work through the struggle and into competence. (and I've noticed recently that when they are irritated with me, it is inevitably me offering help that they didn't ask for)

But yet I didn't apply this to some of my adult relationships. I took on the symptoms. I took on the dysfunction and consequences. I didn't allow the PD adults in my life to face what they had wrought, to reap what they had sown. Somehow I felt I could take all that sorrow into myself and prevent the end results of their behavior. Until it nearly broke me. And now I am finally, belatedly, allowing them the opportunity to grow. Or not.

I see this as a boundary issue. When I am fully formed, fully aware of who I am, what I stand for, what I welcome and what I must keep away from me, then this becomes nearly effortless.

I also see this as meeting a need within ourselves. This can happen when we need to be the ones who "know", the ones who can heal others, the ones who can help. I think when it's about a need within ourselves, it becomes dangerous to us and others. When it's truly about what the other person needs, then I believe it can be healthy and clean.

These words are ugly for us on this board to hear, but I believe you are describing the essence behind enabling and codependency. Now that I'm finally moving away from this way of being in the world, I finally see that MY work is to hold a space of love and compassion while the other person does their own work, only stepping in when asked or when appropriate.

Thank you so much for sharing and starting this discussion!
« Last Edit: October 17, 2018, 03:39:37 PM by all4peace »

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Bloomie

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Re: The Pitfall of Pity
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2018, 11:04:24 AM »
Bloomie, something comes to mind - ‘ forgive yourself for not knowing then what seems so clear now in retrospect ‘ ( or something of that sort).  What you are speaking of here is deep work of self knowledge , about your deepest most innate motivations. That which for whatever reason  nourished you and fulfilled you, though you didn’t understand why.

And yes these things often work sadly to the detriment of yourself / ourselves and others and our relationships. Which is painful.

Thank you for your kind support Fightsong. It is like working through layers, this healing work. The healthier filters I put in place for the relationships in my life the more painful it can be at this point in some of those well established relationships. For myself and others.

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Sometimes the realisation  makes those motivations feel dirtied. I hear something of that in your post - perhaps regret? Or if only it / you had been different? Haven’t we all heard that voice before?

When I first realised one of my deepest motivational forces ( something like pity perhaps/ wanting to ‘help’) arose out of abuse , I was  a bit disgusted with myself. I had to reshape that in order to live with it. For without being ‘that person’ I was useless.  It was and maybe still is at times  a powerful driving force but now I know it and can be vigilant for it.   I can allow it to play out within safe boundaries. ( a quality that isn’t allowed to become something that weakens me and my interactions) . Like your friend, who is maybe being vigilant on your behalf.

Yes, exactly this. I have learned the very hard way to become vigilant about my responses to others and to understand motivations. To allow a beat... some space before responding and to stay mindful and attuned to mind/body/spirit connections as I engage in relationship with others.

For me, the powerful motivational force behind this behavior was my misunderstanding of what it means to "love others as yourself" "above all else put on love" as love relates to my Christian faith.

Untangling what I believe is a false understanding of what love really looks like - for others and myself - that has been imprinted for as long as I can remember onto my very soul has been confusing and most difficult.
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Bloomie

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Re: The Pitfall of Pity
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2018, 12:19:24 PM »
all4peace - Maybe the most confusing part of working through this in my life is that the struggle of the pitfall of pity is not consistent across all areas of my life and never has been. The idea of co-dependency - I have embraced it on some levels as giving context to the out of wack responses and relationships I have developed with some in my life, and yet it is like an ill fitting jacket because there have always been really healthy zones in my life that are compartmentalized from the pitfall of pity and where healthy empathy and love are the norm.

In my work place I hold without question the foundational principle that others are empowered when they do as much as possible for themselves for as long as possible. I can support and walk with someone for a tough part of their journey, I can encourage and point to resources, but my boundaries are appropriate, clear, consistently held. Is it rewarding and challenging work.

Quote from: all4peace
One thing that helped me more fully integrate the message you are sharing is to consider how I have been as a mother with my children. I have known from the beginning that the end goal was raising young adults who didn't rely on me, independence/interdependence, fully launched adults. My love for them allowed me to watch them struggle....learning to dress themselves, learning to comb their hair, learning to make friends, learning sports, learning time management, learning responsibility in their new jobs, learning how to leave home and move far away. I have always been by their side, ready to help, in what capacity felt appropriate or necessary at the time. But I would have considered it deeply unloving to simply take over for them, do it for them, and not allow them to figure out how work through the struggle and into competence. (and I've noticed recently that when they are irritated with me, it is inevitably me offering help that they didn't ask for)

Like you, in my parenting I have held a similar view and taken a similar role and have worked hard to create an atmosphere in my home that honors my children's separateness and uniqueness. In those relationships I have held them lightly and fairly easily kept the goal of competency and independence for my kids before me as a light for the path. And they have grown into very strong, competent, independent adults.

It is with loved ones and people in my faith community who are perpetually troubled and hurting that I lose my footing so easily and find myself in the pit.  :wacko:

Quote from: all4peace
Some of the most loving things I have now finally done in a state of much better health is to speak very hard and painful words to those I have loved. Words that could end the relationship with me. Words that could hurt them (but not harm them). Words that took incredible overcoming of fear for me to speak. And that is probably the most empathetic thing I have ever done.

This is courage all4peace. Just so hard to do, but ime so necessary if we are to have any hope of going forward in relationship with our PD loved ones. You are inviting your loved ones to true authentic intimate relationship with you!

It is rather shocking that this would put the entire relationship at risk, but it does and we know that and it is here that the entry point for pleasing and helping came in for me. Words of truth - our voice, could end the relationship and as a child I learned that to survive safely was to stay silent and pleasing - and what was pleasing or good enough was a constantly moving target.  :no:

I really like this distinction "Words that could hurt them (but not harm them)" thank you for that. So helpful to have that context for speaking the truth in love.

There is something I still need to understand in all of this that has to do with having been parentified to the point of being responsible to keep my suicidal mother alive (like Fightsong so insightfully says this arose out of abuse) - to the religious teachings I was marinated in that in the name of "love" denied my right to step away from harm and have appropriate boundaries (once again, abuse) - to my being especially vulnerable to this dynamic in adult relationships.



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Bloomie

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Re: The Pitfall of Pity
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2018, 12:37:15 PM »
Moved this thread over from Working on Us as some of my content is more appropriate to the religious board I am thinking...

This from The Seven Deadly Friendships by Mary DeMuth:

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What if we could discover together our own faulty patterns, the why behind our pursuit of the unsafe? What if we could discern who might be predatory? What if we cold look honestly at our relationships and figure out which ones deeply bless us and which ones drain us? How can we discern our own relational stew to discover what ingredients poisoned it and why?....

And through it all, we always have the opportunity to grow spiritually. Because relational discord isn't always about our hurt - its about our journey toward spiritual health.

But there are times we have to sever. We have to learn from past relationships so we can move forward with the new ones God has for us. Yet many of us stay entrenched in broken friendships for years and years because we can't see our patterns. We are terrified of change, worried about hurting someone else's feelings, or somehow feel we deserve harsh treatment. We worship the status quo. Yet growth comes in endings."

... When we fail to end things well we are destined to repeat mistakes that keep us from moving on.
(pp. 14-15)

Building a relationship on the foundation of pity will never end well. I am determined to discover my faulty patterns and to be able to discern which relationships bless and which drain and the why behind my pursuing the unsafe.
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all4peace

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Re: The Pitfall of Pity
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2018, 01:59:30 PM »
Bloomie, I responded with a bit too much enthusiasm and speed. Let me circle back and add something. Please have compassion on yourself also. It is a beautiful thing to extend your loving hand to another. It is loving thing to support and stand by someone who has been hit with trauma and crisis, or even just needs an everyday sort of helping hand. It can take time, and sometimes a lot of it, to recognize that someone isn't invested in healing themselves. Those of us on this forum know it can be many years before we start healing and really growing. So please give yourself grace in not knowing that this person wasn't just a slow grower, but maybe someone more interested in being "saved" than "helped" as she struggled to grow and heal.

I learned in therapy the difference between "hurt" and "harm." It was a vital lesson for me, as my unwillingness to hurt others (with words of truth, distance, boundaries) was doing tremendous harm to me, my family and even them as they forever lived without the consequences of their behavior.

It is helpful for me, motivated by your post, to think back to biblical examples and think of how Jesus almost always required a contribution from the person he was healing, effort, movement, action. The blind man had to go and wash his eyes out. The cripple had to take up his bed and walk. Some had to bring their sick ones great distances to him. Others had to cry out for help. Some had to blindly obey and go against the laws of the universe and simply trust that water could somehow become wine. But, in my brief mental scan, almost always there was something that needed to be done by the one being healed.

I'm not preaching. I'm speaking out loud for myself, to see it more clearly for myself, to learn this more fully for my own life also. Thank you, Bloomie! How much grief could be saved if more of us could learn this counterintuitive lesson?!
« Last Edit: October 18, 2018, 05:09:40 PM by all4peace »

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Spring Butterfly

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Re: The Pitfall of Pity
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2018, 04:49:43 PM »
So much amazing stuff in this thread, thank you. The lessons echo so much pulled from various resources along my journey.

Raised and groomed to caretake, the build my whole worth as a person based on my usefulness (read codependent) to others, how much I could help was how my value as a human was calculated in my own heart.

Little by little I shed those layers the past few years. Boundaries, yes God and Jesus have them and we need them. Another key was learning humility, I'm not what others need, they need comfort and healing they can only get from God. I can share what helped me but I can't say if it will work for them and they need to find their path, travel their journey. The illustration of the boy "helping" the butterfly from it's cocoon only to find he wasn't helping at all but causing harm because it is the struggle that the butterfly needed to emerge whole.

Holding sacred space, walking by their side, cheering their journey, that is all I can humbly do.

When talking with others, coming to peace with allowing pause and silence as I contemplate a response. If rushed then I'm sorry I have nothing to offer. The result is a blank stare because I need to think and if someone wants / demands an immediate response most often I find they don't want support but rescue.

I've learned God's love is on one hand unconditional, rain and sun for all to enjoy, fruits of the earth and peace of nature. But a relationship, no that's different. That takes effort, time, getting to know God, meditating on what I see, observe and read in scripture. That is the example I try to follow, kindness and peace for all but relationship with those who like All4Peace mentions put forth at least some effort.

Also learning to have needs myself, to ask for help even if just a request for some uplifting comment. Yes I get tired and work. So did our perfect Lord who took quiet time to rest.

Circles of intimacy. Jesus had many disciples, 12 apostles and of those 3 had an especially close relationship and then only one called dearly loved. It's ok to have various levels of intimacy.

It was there all along. Most of my life. But I was too busy thinking of myself as everyone's everything. Humility - a constant work in progress. 
Each and every contact with a PD person results in damage. Plan accordingly and make time to heal. See Toolbox for tips. "The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause." Mark Twain

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all4peace

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Re: The Pitfall of Pity
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2018, 05:14:04 PM »
Spring Butterfly, you just hit on another recent epiphany of mine...the pride of knowing all and being all for others. It has been a bitter pill for me to swallow, to begin to see that, and yet an enormous load lifted from my shoulders and given back to those with whom it belongs. What freedom! And grief as we face the fact that others may not choose the road to healing.

It was all there, all along. What a joy to finally begin discovering it!

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LSK1999

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Re: The Pitfall of Pity
« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2018, 07:46:15 PM »
Thanks for this thread you guys...I had a T actually help me once by telling me you have to stop trying to save everyone around you because you are interfering with their journey and what they need to learn when you do...

I had the exact same issues you all do...helping was what made me whole...I realize now that the compassion and empathy I was determined to give others I was never giving to myself. You see of all those I tried to save...not one shared that compassion or empathy for me...I also made this really wrong assumption that I knew their pain. I have come to learn that the only pain I was ever really feeling is my own....and in all honesty I had no idea what was going on inside the heads of others...I thought I did...BIG MISTAKE on my part. I realize now that through saving others I thought I could somehow save myself. It has been really hard for me to accept this and realize that not every person on earth deserves or even wants to be saved. I have had to learn to put up a huge wall and keep those things in reserve while I heal myself. All I was doing is depleting myself of all my resources and my well was totally dry. Even more disturbing as I continue my journey out of OOTF I am becoming all too aware that the people I have dedicated my life and love and compassion to do not only not return that love and compassion, they treat me like a dirty rag. I'm awake and I am aware and I know this is never what God intended for me. Thanks again for sharing.

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Bloomie

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Re: The Pitfall of Pity
« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2018, 10:38:06 PM »
Quote from: all4peace
It is loving thing to support and stand by someone who has been hit with trauma and crisis, or even just needs an everyday sort of helping hand. It can take time, and sometimes a lot of it, to recognize that someone isn't invested in healing themselves. Those of us on this forum know it can be many years before we start healing and really growing. So please give yourself grace in not knowing that this person wasn't just a slow grower, but maybe someone more interested in being "saved" than "helped" as she struggled to grow and heal.

:hug: Thank you all4peace. I am a really slow grower in this area of my recovery and your encouragement means a lot! 


Quote from: all4peace
I learned in therapy the difference between "hurt" and "harm." It was a vital lesson for me, as my unwillingness to hurt others (with words of truth, distance, boundaries) was doing tremendous harm to me, my family and even them as they forever lived without the consequences of their behavior.

It is helpful for me, motivated by your post, to think back to biblical examples and think of how Jesus almost always required a contribution from the person he was healing, effort, movement, action. The blind man had to go and wash his eyes out. The cripple had to take up his bed and walk. Some had to bring their sick ones great distances to him. Others had to cry out for help. Some had to blindly obey and go against the laws of the universe and simply trust that water could somehow become wine. But, in my brief mental scan, almost always there was something that needed to be done by the one being healed.

Such beautiful insights here. I am so grateful for the gentle reminders and nudges of how harmful it is to require nothing of one who is asking for so much. Thank you so much for your wisdom!

I know from your sharing here on the forum that these insights come from the heart of one who has wrestled with how to hold a compassionate and loving space with loved ones that are unrepentant, steeped in a family culture of denial, and who are actively resisting the law of sowing and reaping aka consequences, for their choices.

How beautiful and validating the reminder that Jesus understood our need to acknowledge our wounds and need of healing and how true that human nature most often values what we have had to sacrifice or work for or at least engage in and mistrusts things freely given. This is so helpful for me all4peace. Thank you! :hug:

It is part of grieving to realize I so often required nothing - not even consistently kind behaviors one would show a stranger - from some of the most abusive PD people in my family/faith community. And I believed that was what God required of me because I was indoctrinated into that way of thinking/believing as, first a female, and then as importantly as a Christian.  :no:

I do know that there can be a prideful element to "helping" and having the answers and I don't deny or overlook the need to be vigilant in those areas of my life and interactions with others, but for me in sorting through this, I have also wrestled equally and with greater implication on a soul level with the realization that it was false teaching by those that were in the best position to gain that derailed my ability to move away from this way of responding to brokenness and unsafe people. This was also a deliberate taking spiritual advantage in the name of God.  :aaauuugh:

Still working through and processing that part of things.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2018, 11:16:01 PM by Bloomie »
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Bloomie

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Re: The Pitfall of Pity
« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2018, 11:01:04 PM »
Raised and groomed to caretake, the build my whole worth as a person based on my usefulness (read codependent) to others, how much I could help was how my value as a human was calculated in my own heart.

Such a great way of saying this: "calculated in my own heart."

Quote
Little by little I shed those layers the past few years. Boundaries, yes God and Jesus have them and we need them. Another key was learning humility, I'm not what others need, they need comfort and healing they can only get from God. I can share what helped me but I can't say if it will work for them and they need to find their path, travel their journey. The illustration of the boy "helping" the butterfly from it's cocoon only to find he wasn't helping at all but causing harm because it is the struggle that the butterfly needed to emerge whole.

Yes! I am not what others need. That gaping bottomless pit of need can only be filled by God alone.  Whew! I resign my position effective immediately from trying to help the stinking butterfly out of the cocoon! We all have to fight for freedom and strength!

Quote
Holding sacred space, walking by their side, cheering their journey, that is all I can humbly do.

When talking with others, coming to peace with allowing pause and silence as I contemplate a response. If rushed then I'm sorry I have nothing to offer. The result is a blank stare because I need to think and if someone wants / demands an immediate response most often I find they don't want support but rescue.

So often I have been pressured to respond in the way you describe here. As if everything is urgent. If the setting were a car lot I would leave as soon as the high pressure sales and manipulative tactics began, but because it is a "hurting" human I have failed to see the similarity in tactics.  :doh:

Quote
I've learned God's love is on one hand unconditional, rain and sun for all to enjoy, fruits of the earth and peace of nature. But a relationship, no that's different. That takes effort, time, getting to know God, meditating on what I see, observe and read in scripture. That is the example I try to follow, kindness and peace for all but relationship with those who like All4Peace mentions put forth at least some effort.

Also learning to have needs myself, to ask for help even if just a request for some uplifting comment. Yes I get tired and work. So did our perfect Lord who took quiet time to rest.

Holding the standard of a reasonable amount of effort and reciprocity. Who would've thought that having that simple filter in place would protect from so much pain and so many predatory or PD people I have experienced relationship with who simply seem to want to be carried around on a potato chip their entire life and to experience the full range of relationship without showing equal regard for me. 

Quote
Circles of intimacy. Jesus had many disciples, 12 apostles and of those 3 had an especially close relationship and then only one called dearly loved. It's ok to have various levels of intimacy.

It was there all along. Most of my life. But I was too busy thinking of myself as everyone's everything. Humility - a constant work in progress. 

Circles of intimacy work has been some of the most helpful work I have done as I have been slowly shedding those unhealthy layers and coming Out of the FOG. This is a good reminder to go back and revisit that work.

Humility, clarity, observation, diving deep into the scriptures to understand what they say for myself, learning to use my voice and speak truth, live boundaries, and be willing to move a loved one out to whatever level of intimacy is appropriate.. is all a work in progress.

So much wisdom and grace in your words and I they are rolling around in my mind over and again. Thank you! :hug:
« Last Edit: October 19, 2018, 11:18:52 PM by Bloomie »
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Re: The Pitfall of Pity
« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2018, 11:13:55 PM »
Thanks for this thread you guys...I had a T actually help me once by telling me you have to stop trying to save everyone around you because you are interfering with their journey and what they need to learn when you do...

I had the exact same issues you all do...helping was what made me whole...I realize now that the compassion and empathy I was determined to give others I was never giving to myself. You see of all those I tried to save...not one shared that compassion or empathy for me...I also made this really wrong assumption that I knew their pain. I have come to learn that the only pain I was ever really feeling is my own....and in all honesty I had no idea what was going on inside the heads of others...I thought I did...BIG MISTAKE on my part. I realize now that through saving others I thought I could somehow save myself. It has been really hard for me to accept this and realize that not every person on earth deserves or even wants to be saved. I have had to learn to put up a huge wall and keep those things in reserve while I heal myself. All I was doing is depleting myself of all my resources and my well was totally dry. Even more disturbing as I continue my journey out of OOTF I am becoming all too aware that the people I have dedicated my life and love and compassion to do not only not return that love and compassion, they treat me like a dirty rag. I'm awake and I am aware and I know this is never what God intended for me. Thanks again for sharing.

LSK1999 - That must've been a lightbulb moment when your T said that. I would love to hear what you think of this thought I had when reading your insights... what if the reason helping was part of what made us whole is because we are created to wholeness in relationship with others? I hope that makes sense? 

Maybe one of reasons all of this pitfall of pity is even a thing is because what comes naturally to us, what brings us joy in community and relationships is to freely love and support, even serve each other? I often think that this is the hardest thing I have ever had to unlearn in my life, the most besetting habit I have ever had to break, the most engrained knee jerk response I have to manage, because kindness, helping, forgiving, overlooking, covering an offense and showing grace does feel wonderful and ever so right until it is leveraged for personal gain by someone we had no idea we couldn't trust.

Learning to honor that part of ourselves which is so willing to give and is as all4peace says "a beautiful thing" and to protect ourselves is counterintuitive and so confusing on some levels and yet so necessary as there are those in our lives that are predatory, disordered, unsafe and who are unable to truly love others and unable/unwilling to manage their harmful behaviors.

It is messy isn't it?
« Last Edit: October 19, 2018, 11:19:58 PM by Bloomie »
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LSK1999

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Re: The Pitfall of Pity
« Reply #13 on: October 21, 2018, 01:31:32 PM »
Messy isn't the word  :stars: lol. You are right and what really sank in one day with me and it was absolutely jaw dropping was the fact that yes part of being good, kind, loving, and compassionate is what makes us whole. The desire to help and serve others for me is a part of being a whole person.  It was these qualities of mine that were being used against me by my abusers and that is the saddest and sickest part of it all. Our goodness is used against us, our need to be whole and good is used against us. I also based my life around the idea that others thought and operated similarly to me... :no: while surely there are many  like us that do...I believe we are living in a time in which there are increasingly more and more people that don't. My trust in others has been completely eroded, for me the most empowering thing has been to learn about manipulation and control and everything I can learn about the abuse that has happened to me. If I am ever to trust again I need to know how to identify toxic behaviors and manipulation tactics when I see them at work. Hopefully this will lead to such confidence in understanding what to watch out for I can at least begin to trust myself again and my intuition about others and their intentions towards me. I think it's really really hard for us to accept that our goodness is a weapon used against us, but it's a truth that cannot be ignored. I do not want this to fundamentally change my goodness....but help me to decipher who is worthy of that love and kindness.

I saw something on a support site the other day that resonated deeply....God does not forgive without repentance...but we think we are supposed to? So do I think I'm supposed to be holier than God? That was like a slap in the face to me....wake up LSK! Why do you keep forgiving horrible behavior directed towards you....I don't believe the lord wants me to...WHY DIDN'T I KNOW THIS BEFORE...lol...this really hit me deeply too when I realized that you would be hard pressed to find anyone that would ever tell you LSK did something to harm me.....but the list of those that have harmed me is a long one.....so where do I go from here?? You hit the nail on the head, what a mess  :doh:

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Bloomie

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Re: The Pitfall of Pity
« Reply #14 on: October 22, 2018, 09:01:28 PM »
Messy isn't the word  :stars: lol. You are right and what really sank in one day with me and it was absolutely jaw dropping was the fact that yes part of being good, kind, loving, and compassionate is what makes us whole. The desire to help and serve others for me is a part of being a whole person.  It was these qualities of mine that were being used against me by my abusers and that is the saddest and sickest part of it all. Our goodness is used against us, our need to be whole and good is used against us. I also based my life around the idea that others thought and operated similarly to me... :no: while surely there are many  like us that do...I believe we are living in a time in which there are increasingly more and more people that don't.

LSK1999 - It has been really good for me to also be reminded that we each wear our own set of "glasses" so to speak, with which to view the world. And we do all view things and value things differently and most never seem to question the lens they are seeing things through. I know I have been guilty of that.

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My trust in others has been completely eroded, for me the most empowering thing has been to learn about manipulation and control and everything I can learn about the abuse that has happened to me. If I am ever to trust again I need to know how to identify toxic behaviors and manipulation tactics when I see them at work. Hopefully this will lead to such confidence in understanding what to watch out for I can at least begin to trust myself again and my intuition about others and their intentions towards me. I think it's really really hard for us to accept that our goodness is a weapon used against us, but it's a truth that cannot be ignored. I do not want this to fundamentally change my goodness....but help me to decipher who is worthy of that love and kindness.

Learning about manipulative tactics and how people position themselves to control or maintain the one up position has been helpful for me, too. It has taken me quite awhile to heal and learn how to safely, slowly, enter into trust in new relationships. I am mindfully and carefully becoming more confident and really trusting my gut and not shaming myself or being shamed into over looking when someone or something feels off.

In my own experiences with uPD people in my life everything is potentially weaponized and leveraged in some way for their benefit. Nothing is off limits. That has been shocking to experience.  :'(
 
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I saw something on a support site the other day that resonated deeply....God does not forgive without repentance...but we think we are supposed to? So do I think I'm supposed to be holier than God? That was like a slap in the face to me....wake up LSK! Why do you keep forgiving horrible behavior directed towards you....I don't believe the lord wants me to...WHY DIDN'T I KNOW THIS BEFORE...lol...this really hit me deeply too when I realized that you would be hard pressed to find anyone that would ever tell you LSK did something to harm me.....but the list of those that have harmed me is a long one.....so where do I go from here?? You hit the nail on the head, what a mess  :doh:

This really resonates with me as well. I have long held the view that is very controversial in my own faith community that we cannot "forgive" another without repentance and them seeking our forgiveness and on some level offering a recognition of wrongs done. I have long believed my work is to do the hard work that enables me to be ready and willing to forgive, to not allow seeds of bitterness and rage to grow in my heart toward another, to not harm them or return evil for evil or harm for harm.  But even in that I am not God I am human and struggle in a way God, who is all powerful does not. To put that level of expectation on myself or another is a burden too heavy to bear.

I personally believe that the Biblical model of God's forgiveness of us as an exchange that requires repentance and acknowledgment of having done something that requires forgiveness on our part is correct. The grace by which we are forgiven is a free gift and yet it requires we own our stuff.  :yes:

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practical

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Re: The Pitfall of Pity
« Reply #15 on: October 23, 2018, 11:06:00 PM »
There is so much in this thread, thank you all for sharing. - Reading through it I thought of the way I learned to help others inside and outside FOO was like learning a language but without the grammar, without the all important punctuation marks. Helping equalled being seen for a moment in FOO - or at least so I thought, not knowing the distinction between being seen as a person and a function, a doing. And yes, like others have said helping was the way to get "love" in FOO and I transferred this to other relationships. Not only did my uPDparents raise me this way, they were even themselves role models for it. Both of my parents would help in certain settings inside and outside the family without appropriate boundaries in their attempts to be seen, to be good enough, trying to get love and recognition. Most likely remnants of how they were raised as far as I can gather from stories about my grandparents, who may have had their own PDissues. As part of coming OOTF I'm trying to relearn the language of helping with the appropriate grammar, the paragraphs, spaces, punctuation that give it structure and sense.

One other thought, in Judaism there are two ways of helping others. One by giving money "Tzedakah" and one is by acts of loving kindness "Chesed". To think of helping others as acts of loving kindness for me is much more reasonable than to use the word love, which is such a big word and brings such baggage with it for many of us because of how it was used in the abuse of us. An act of loving kindness because of the work "act" in it sounds limited, it has boundaries in the wording. An act of loving kindness can be simple like helping somebody with their grocery bags, it can be one time or a few, but acts of loving kindness are not supposed to be Herculean efforts and aren't supposed to involve self-denial, self-sacrifice, which is what I thought helping others is, what love was for a long time and was the only way for me to be good enough.

As for pity, it is a trap and I have fallen into it many times. Maybe one way to keep ourselves from it is to remember that most of us don't want pity, we may want help but not pity and I think that is a sign of emotional health. So maybe flipping it around: somebody who accepts, seeks out our pity, this is a warning sign for us.
“If I’m not towards myself, who is towards myself? And when I’m only towards myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” (Rabbi Hillel)

"I can forgive, but I cannot afford to forget." (Moglow)

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practical

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Re: The Pitfall of Pity
« Reply #16 on: October 24, 2018, 01:05:06 AM »
An addendum: While "acts of loving kindness" is obviously a translation for the Hebrew word "chesed", which cannot be perfectly translated into English, the translation describes what the thinking is, the interpretations in the rabbinical teaching and how it is lived.
“If I’m not towards myself, who is towards myself? And when I’m only towards myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” (Rabbi Hillel)

"I can forgive, but I cannot afford to forget." (Moglow)

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Bloomie

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Re: The Pitfall of Pity
« Reply #17 on: October 24, 2018, 09:05:38 PM »
The analogy to learning a language without grammar to how we learned to love and help others in our FOO is fantastic practical. So helpful to me! I am now painstakingly learning how to properly "articulate" love, compassion, empathy, putting in the proper syntax and punctuation.

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One other thought, in Judaism there are two ways of helping others. One by giving money "Tzedakah" and one is by acts of loving kindness "Chesed". To think of helping others as acts of loving kindness for me is much more reasonable than to use the word love, which is such a big word and brings such baggage with it for many of us because of how it was used in the abuse of us. An act of loving kindness because of the work "act" in it sounds limited, it has boundaries in the wording. An act of loving kindness can be simple like helping somebody with their grocery bags, it can be one time or a few, but acts of loving kindness are not supposed to be Herculean efforts and aren't supposed to involve self-denial, self-sacrifice, which is what I thought helping others is, what love was for a long time and was the only way for me to be good enough.

Yes! Acts of lovinging kindness or being merciful (chesed - such a beautiful way to express this) in how we live - when we are in balance and self aware enough to also consider the motivation behind the act(s) and the impact the act(s) would have on me and by extension, my family.

Something that rings through me in what you share here is that this may be a single, simple act. And that is enough and worthy and kind.

Thank you! :hug:
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all4peace

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Re: The Pitfall of Pity
« Reply #18 on: October 26, 2018, 08:53:30 AM »
practical, I love your language analogy!! For me, therapy and this healing process have been so much about finding language for feelings/intuitions, images to explain, models and theories to provide structure. So I really love the way you make sense of this.

Your model reminds me of another way of seeing this....generational. My parents had highly abusive parents. And they both forgave (or denied, forgot, buried) a lot to continue interactions with their own parents. They've never verbalized this, but I imagine they expect us to do the same for them.

We could "marry" these 2 by recognizing that language changes over generations, new vernacular, new words and jargon.

What my parents accepted, and the form that their "help" offered is their choice.
DH and I are allowed, the new generation that we are, with the new "language" we speak (different values, concepts, models) to respond to our parents' behavior in a different way.

In the older generations, "family is everything." I can see the value in this, but I also see terrible abuse coming down through the generations, dysfunction, violence, codependency and addiction. That was seen as "loving" and "helping," but I see it as enabling.

In our generation, we are attempting to put a halt to this. What a fine line between pity and love.
"Pity" is defined as a feeling of sorrow and compassion.
"Love" is defined as an intense feeling of deep affection.

That doesn't work so well for me, but what about "agape" love, in which love is divine? (1 Corinthians 13 is said to be a good description of agape love).

It is so hard for me to not get pulled back into enabling behaviors and attitudes, and so I need to repeatedly remind myself that one of the strongest loves I have ever known is that which I have for my children, and it would be terribly unloving for me to enable them instead of encouraging and even forcing them to develop themselves as adults and near adults.

Great conversation!

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needfixing

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Re: The Pitfall of Pity
« Reply #19 on: November 04, 2018, 08:53:50 PM »
 :yeahthat: