Why is it "wrong" to feel sorry?

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by Pippi1313, May 14, 2009.

  1. Pippi1313

    Pippi1313 New Member

    Greetings, All!

    I've been wondering...
    Why is it wrong to "feel sorry" for ourselves and/or others?
    When did "sympathy" become such a dirty word that we had to replace it with the socially-acceptable "empathy"?

    I don't mean to imply that we should feel nothing BUT sorry.
    However, we are capable of having simultaneous emotions!
    And sometimes, sorry is the appropriate thing to feel...

    Who is the all powerful "they", with the authority to dictate our feelings???

    I bet it's the same "they" who are uncomfortable associating with sick people. Of course, their perfect comfort is the ultimate goal, & all must sacrifice to achieve that goal! (That was sarcasm, of course.)

    Sometimes, life is SO darn sorry, I REFUSE to put on my happy-howdy-face, just to ease someone elses' temporary mental discomfort!!!

    Maybe, when someone tells us to stop feeling sorry for ourselves, we can tell them we'd be glad to stop, IF someone else will take over & feel sorry for a few minutes!!!!

    We can't change the fact that we're sick.
    I've begun to resent everybody who expects (demands) that I play the role of brave, cheerful, little sick person!!!!!!!!!!

    Instead of outlawing "pity", I honestly think a few small doses of pity would do me a world of good! At least I would know that the people in my life actually give half-a-crap about my suffering!

    (End of vent! Thanx!)
  2. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    Aren't we also told we should be honest about our feelings?

    "Oh, she was so brave. She never told anyone she had cancer." But is that
    honest? Are you sharing your life w/ your family and best friends if you don't tell them
    what's going on?

    I think it's like so many things a life; a matter of balance. We don't need to
    be whining every minute of the day. But aren't we entitled to grieve for all the
    things that have been taken away from us?


  3. Pippi1313

    Pippi1313 New Member

    It's because I don't whine or complain, that peeps say stoopit things like, how "brave" I am. Geez! I'm no braver than anybody else.

    Every time my mom makes an innocent comment like: "hospitals have become 'old hat' to us" - I wanna scream about how badly this old hat SUX!

    But, of course, I don't.

    I think they only want us to be honest about our feelings in therapy, or at some other safe distance.... :(

    [This Message was Edited on 05/14/2009]
  4. stick2013

    stick2013 Member

    Sympathy......Keeps a person in a stagnant pace, not moving forward, and you enable them to stay that way, when you show sympathy.

    Empathy, you recognize, and acknowledge that the person has a problem, but you offer advice, and suggestions for them to help themselves.

    Sympathy, should only be shown at appropriate times, such as when there is a death, cancer, ect ect. But when it comes to mental health...No, empathy is a better choice....
  5. gapsych

    gapsych New Member

    Hey, I hear you!! Interesting discussion.

    We live in a culture where it is not always acceptable to express ourselves and are told to put on a brave face. That is certainly not healthy.

    I hate it when people say something to the effect that a person is fighting hard to conquer their illness. What does this mean? If we get sicker, we are not fighting hard enough?

    It's kind of like childbirth, it hurts like hell and I am certainly not going to stuff down my screams at this time.Personally, I plan to go out kicking and screaming when it is my time to die.

    Sometimes we have to prioritize.

    If we say something, will that change how this person will behave.

    Is it worth the time and effort involved to say anything?

    Sometimes it is, other times it only drains us.

    My best friend when I offhandedly said, oh you do not want hear this, she said, actually I do. We are very supportive of each other and I also would feel comfortable if she asked to change the subject. But this is a very close relationship as we have known each other since we were 13. For you mathematicians that would be about 25 years ago!!

    It can be difficult and exhausting to try and constantly read people. You can ask them if they feel comfortable talking about your DD but that can be kind of tricky. Then there are many people in our lives that this would not be appropriate.

    I expect you know this but it never hurts to hear it again, but we can not control what other people think about us. Sometimes I feel like I am in a damned if you do, dammed if you don't situation so then I just say what I want to say LOL!!

    What has helped me is to keep a journal where I can vent and also this board. Goodness, if we on the board don't understand, then who will?

    But you know, we are only human, we make mistakes, we misread people, we may take people's opinions too personally.

    We all need someone we can go to. Everyone needs comfort. Sometimes the world does not provide that.

    My motto is, What people think of me is none of my business!!

    However, that is a lot easier said than done!!!

    So don't feel badly about your feelings but also remember to put on a happy face. That is my convoluted way of saying there are just no easy answers.


    ETA However, if you want to describe in detail how the boil on your private parts was lanced, you just might want to keep this to yourself!!!!

    [This Message was Edited on 05/14/2009]
  6. Pippi1313

    Pippi1313 New Member

    Sometimes, a little sympathy would do a lot more good than a gazillion more "suggestions" or affirmations from the unafflicted.

    I don't whine or subject anyone to an "organ recital". They don't have to know every gory detail (not that I'd tell them anyway) to have a smidge of sympathy. They don't have to hold onto the feeling for more than a few seconds, anyway.

    I dunno. Maybe I'm longing for a little sympathy (just a LITTLE!) cuz I never got any...

    I was told (in no uncertain terms) not to act like a baby, ever since I WAS a baby...

    (I'm not asking for sympathy HERE of course!!! LOL!!! Here I have something even better: Understanding!!!)

    Just thinkin aloud, is all.

    I just don't think that a small dose of sympathy is gonna poison any of us. We can handle the rough stuff, a little sympathy won't turn us into quivering emotional mush-puddles...

    I dunno. Maybe I'm stupid, but am I really so wrong?
  7. TeaBisqit

    TeaBisqit Member

    I think we are entitled to feel however we feel and no one should tell us we can't. Everyone deals with things in their own way.

    I don't think it's all that normal to expect us to be happy we are sick. And every time someone tries to tell me I should be cheerful and Pollyanna like, I just want to scream. I think it's more normal to be upset you are sick.

    I wasn't the type to dwell on the disease until I'd flare up. I always tried to do whatever I could do, even if it was a small thing. But as the years have gone by, it's getting harder not to concentrate on it because I want to get better and I need to research and try to find things that will help. But I think that's a normal, healthy thing to do. I'm trying to do things to feel better.

    It's also impossible to be upbeat and cheerful when you are feverish and in pain and really feel like someone dropped you from the top of a building and a truck ran over you. Until someone walks in your shoes, they shouldn't dare tell you how you should be feeling.

    And on days where I'm having a flare, if I sit around and cry over it, I think that's normal. And I can't stand anyone who calls it a pity party. Let them try it and see how fun it is.
  8. Pippi1313

    Pippi1313 New Member

    I needed to hear that.

    People who use the phrase "pity party" prove that they can't stand being in close proximity to our pain, even momentarily!

    They'd scream for their mommies if they had to actually experience it!


    Stick - Please clarify if I misunderstand. But if we reserve sympathy for death-scenarios, who gets the sympathy? The dead guy? Woulda been nice to show some sympathy before that point. Is the sympathy for the survivor? Why do the bystanders deserve more consideration than the sick peeps?

    I'm not trying to be snitty about this. Just having a really hard day, is all...
    [<i>This Message was Edited on 05/14/2009</i>]

    PS: I never meant it's OK to get permanently STUCK in an emotion. I'm just saying it's OK to have & ADMIT to any emotion! :)
    [This Message was Edited on 05/15/2009]
  9. Pippi1313

    Pippi1313 New Member

    The ol' don't-complain-cuz-it-could-always-be-worse routine.

    Do they even realize how dumb that is???
    Of course I feel bad (even SORRY!) for peeps who suffer. Why the heck do people think someone elses' suffering will make us feel better???

    Pointing out anothers' suffering, only gives us something else to feel bad about - in ADDITION to our own suffering - not INSTEAD of it!

    It just proves how utterly clueless the unafflicted are...

    PS: For me, today is a bit better than yesterday. :) Thanks to "everydobby" who cares that I feel better!!!
    [This Message was Edited on 05/15/2009]
  10. Rafiki

    Rafiki New Member

    Sympathy separates from each other as the object of sympathy is... well, the object. Empathy unites us as it depends on our understanding that suffering is universal ~ we draw on our own experience to attempt to truly understand that of another.

    Sometimes I think we forget that everyone suffers. The very person who seems indifferent to our suffering may be caught up in suffering of their own.

    Perhaps they are not in pain or, at that moment, feeling ill although none of us escape either indefinitely. But, perhaps they suffer from depression or are overwhelmingly anxious about their finances or perhaps their marriage is in trouble or they carry a load of guilt or have a secret addiction or feel unlovable or were abused as children or lost a child or... or... or... or... the invisible causes of suffering are many.

    We never have any guarantee that we are speaking to someone who is, in that moment, free of their own pain. Even those we know well may be "being brave" about some torment they are not sharing with us.

    Empathy calls on this understanding of life being a difficult business for everyone. Sympathy, as we are using it here, fosters the illusion that the world is divided into those who suffer and those who don't. Pity creates an even greater distance between us - pity often causes us to turn away from the pain of it.

    Everyone who seems disinterested in our suffering has suffering of their own. I believe it was Gandhi who suggested that we "be the change" we wish to see in the world.

    Peace out,
  11. vivian53

    vivian53 Member

    Good post. I am glad you are feeling better.

    Stick, I agree with you. Your definitions are spot on.

    Gap you always make a lot of sense.

    Jam, always the honest woman. You know what we have learned in Al-Anon about self pity.
    Along with those feeling come others, like guilt or anger. We can get mired in those feelings.

    I love the term "pity party." I hold my own when I feel the need. I usually lie on my bed, cry my heart out, tell myself how unfair it is, the get up and get on with it. It's not a place I want to dwell.

    It is so hard for us that have chronic illnesses, and I do complain. My son, who is much much more ill than I am, and in so very much pain, never complains at all. I do then feel guilty about me being such a ninny. His dad was like that too though had terrible migraines several times a week, barfing big time, and never complained.

    I am far from being that stoic. I am so glad that you all are here so that we can talk about just this type of thing and all understand where the others are coming from.

    So Pippi if you start having more pain, complain away, I'll listen.

  12. TeaBisqit

    TeaBisqit Member

    My mother used to use that "there are people worse off than you" thing on me alot. And I used to say, "And there will always be people who are better off than any of us." :p And it's true. I don't want to hear how people are doing worse. How does that help the fact I'm flaring that day??? What about all the people who are doing better than me? How about all the ones who can have everything? You know, the healthy ones who can go to work and the gym and get married and have kids? How is that any more fair than the ones who are "worse off"? What did those people do that was so much better than what I have done in my life? Really? I would like to know. Are they somehow more deserving of health than me? And the ones who are worse off, were they worse people than me? Do they deserve the suffering they are going through?

    What I'm saying is, none of it is fair. And I don't understand why, we as people, are instilled with a sense of fairness when the world we live in is NOT fair. And we are not given answers as to why one person suffers more than another person, or why one person is blessed beyond blessed with everything while another person has nothing. I'm one of those people that wants answers. I want to know WHY. I could probably deal with my illness a whole lot better if I had an answer as to why my life was stolen from me. I'm not the type of person who does well when you don't give me an answer.

    I look at someone like Farrah Faucett who was one of the most beautiful women in the world and she was sweet and soft. And look what's happened to her. Anal cancer, full humiliation as the entire world found out about it. And some jerk is suing her as she lies dying. And we have no answer as to why she was given such suffering.

    I don't know why the world works this way. I just hope one day, we do get answers.
  13. Doober

    Doober New Member

    But let me ask you a question and PLEASE do not take any of this as an opinionated statement, suggestion or anything else like that because as someone who understands you, I don't want to be thought of as a jerk (because I am far from it).

    Is it pity we want from others? When someone uses the word sorry to me, I want it to be "I feel sorry for what you are going through", "I feel sorry for how you are feeling". I don't want to hear "I feel sorry for you" because this is such a broad statement. And it almost makes me feel as if someone feels sorry for me as a human being.

    We did not bring this upon ourselves, we are just unfortunate to have gotten sick. We cannot compare ourselves to others who "May have it worst than us" because we end up catergorizing ourselves in comparison with the rest of civilization and ALL human life is valuable(although I could make exceptions in this when it comes to specific people who do not share this value, but that is just me).

    The things we truly need are compassion, understanding and hope. Compassion as the humans we are not the disease or illness we have. Understanding of how bad our days can be or what we suffer from and hope for better times to come.

    "Putting on a brave face for others", why? We are living (or at least trying to) our lives for us. We do not HAVE to prove anything to anyone at anytime. We only have to KNOW that we are trying the best we can to and for ourselves.

    So if you have one of those days where you need to sit down some where and be "sorry" or have a sorrowful moment, that is just the nature of a human being and one of the many emotions we have. You should NEVER be ashamed of sharing feelings. If those whom you share feelings with have no sympathy or understanding, then "they" are the ones who need a reality check.

    So, my hope for you and all of us here is that we keep ourselves and each other strong in our quest for better days. Because if WE don't, noone else is going to.

    I hope this is not coming across as sappy and drivoulous? But it is hard sometimes to think and type at the same time and make the words in our minds sound the same in print.
  14. zenouchy

    zenouchy Member

    You can still have feelings and emotions, kindness and compassion, empathy/sympathy (another definition of sympathy is sharing common feelings between two people---that is nice and very similar to empathy :)) and be brave at the same time.

    You can cry about having an illness too and not be having a pity party. Crying can make you stronger. I often have greater clarity and resolve after a good cry. I think sometimes people who say not to cry about it a lot are suggesting that they want you to be able to live a full life, but they often don't express it well, and it sometimes makes things worse.

    If we are numb to our feelings, we will shut off and shut down. That's hardly living Crying, talking, and journaling about a difficult chronic illness helps us express these emotions and get them out. It's how we cope. Sure, we should enjoy and explore other parts our lives and not become consumed in our illness; but we can't shut this part of us down either. People who haven't walked in our shoes can't and shouldn't judge.

    Caring for others and offering sympathy/empathy and hope and encouragement---that's what life is about. The world is a pretty cold place without it. Martyrs don't impress me much.

    Warm hugs to all,

  15. Pippi1313

    Pippi1313 New Member

    That is very close to what I have been (so clumsily) trying to say!!!

    Sometimes, I just need my peeps to feel sorry WITH me - just for a moment - the world doesn't have to come to a crashing halt! And then we go on to whatever horrible or wonderful thing comes next.

    "Don't cry" & "Be brave" really means, "Hey, YOU might have to suffer, but don't you DARE drag ME in to it!"

    As for the worse-off / better-off thing...
    I guess that's just how society works. At school, work, everywhere. Constant comparison. I guess "they" haven't figured out it doesn't work that way for us...

  16. bigmama2

    bigmama2 New Member

    very important topic here on this thread!!!!!

    i agree with all the others here who said basically that it's ok and normal and even healthy to allow ourselves to feel our feelings (sad angry frustrated etc.) we are human and a serious chronic illness that is life altering is not something we can always handle with a "cheerful brave happy" attitude.

    and yes it would be so -- comforting and validating- if other people understood- and would let us vent sometimes- and just say "wow, that IS horrible. etc"

    some people "get it" and some dont.

    coping w chronic illness is about balance- as some people on this thread have said. sometimes you have to vent, cry, scream, cuss, or whatever. but if we stay in that state- it doesn't help us. we also have to find any positive things we can in our lives. balance!

    has anyone other than me ever done a "primal scream"?. it comes in handy when you have totally lost it (anger and frustration-wise). but it is draining and really hurts your throat!

    hugs to all----
  17. Pippi1313

    Pippi1313 New Member

    I definitely do NOT think you're a jerk!!!!!! I'm so very glad you're here & discussing this with us!!!

    "Putting on the brave face for others": Sometimes, we're just trying to protect THEM from pain. Cuz that's the kinda people we are.

    Other times, when it becomes EXPECTED of me, I resent them for forcing me to lie (by ommision), & that really peeves me off.
    It's then, when their comfort becomes more important than my pain, that I wanna scream & lash out.

    The truth is: I think I'm headed into another full relapse. I cannot even begin to cope with the sheer terror of that as a concept, much less a reality.

    I haven't even told anyone.
    Until now.
    I'm telling y'all....

    What you said is true:
    Here "we keep ourselves and each other strong in our quest for better days".

    I can only hope this is a (painful) false alarm. I only hope because I can no longer pray. But, that's another post entirely, huh?

    Thanks, Doob. Glad U R here!!!

    PS: Since I posted this, I did tell Mom what's happening. She's the one who winds up at the ER w/me when there's a crisis, so I thought she should know.

    PPS: Doober - you have an absolute, inalienable RIGHT to be opinionated! :)

    [This Message was Edited on 05/16/2009]
  18. vivian53

    vivian53 Member

    Oh no. I hope you're wrong too. This is OT but........break out all of your tools. I'm talking massage, acupuncture, chiropractic treatment, whirlpool, trigger point injections with something like Lidocaine in them, increased pains meds, stretching and getting good sleep.

    These things are in my toolbox. Included also is this board as a tool.

    Hang on, we'll be here.

    If you want to talk more about any of my tools lets go on the FM board.

    warm hugs to you lady,

  19. Janalynn

    Janalynn New Member

    Sympathy is feeling sorry for the position the person is in.
    Empathy is being able to put yourself in that person's shoes.

    It is perfectly okay to feel sorry for someone. I often tell people "I'm so sorry for what you're going through"

    I actually have never heard that it is not politically correct not to feel sympathy - as it has a different meaning than empathy.
  20. Pippi1313

    Pippi1313 New Member

    Even tho I lost my faith a long time ago, I welcome any & all to pray for me as much as they can!

    (Maybe "He" still listens to y'all.)