I used to feel sorry for people, frequently and strongly. Whenever something bad would happen to someone, I would automatically feel bad for them. It almost wouldn’t matter how big or small their issue was, I would just feel profoundly sorry for them.
I don’t know why. Perhaps I thought if I was deeply empathetic, they would see it in my face, and it would make them feel better. Then, it would make me feel good. It is one of those selfish exercises we do: we show empathy, we show we can relate to them, we show we care. It is human and a normal to do. There is nothing wrong with caring about someone else’s condition after they go through a difficult time. It is recommended ever. Yet…
After a while and as I was getting old(er), it hit me; I realized JUST feeling sorry for people doesn’t help me nor does it help them. Sure, relating to their pain and sorrow helps me more than it helps them. At the end of the day, my empathy doesn’t alleviate their pain or sorrow. It shows I am willing to understand, willing to be there for them but it doesn’t change much about their mental or physical state, depending on what is ailing their soul or body or both. I can do something, but I don’t believe I can do much.
Yes, some people have suffered tremendously in this life. I cannot even imagine going through a tenth of what some people have gone through. But I am done feeling overwhelmingly sorry for others. It sounds cold and heartless, but I know I am doing the right thing. I believe “feeling sorry, overwhelmingly so” might cripple the victims and then I would start giving them excuses for whatever they do next, especially when they do something wrong.
I know it isn’t easy to say but some people want to be eternal victims. Yes, some people want to be defined by their victimhood, they want to make it an essential and undying part of who they are. They want others to see them as victims first and foremost. When one does that, one gets empathy from others, that is sure! However, if people see others as “victims” most of the time, then the victims end up defining themselves by their victimhood and they want to be treated as such. That is a fact. I know a few people like that, who wear their victimhood as a badge of honor. Yet, there is no honor in being a victim forever, there is honor in healing and overcoming the trauma.
Before you jump on me, I have no manual that teaches how and when to heal. There is no set up time on when to heal. Healing is subjective and open to interpretation. It depends on people’s environment, personality, family life, etc. I am fully aware certain people cannot get over their trauma. That is another unpleasant fact of life. Some people just can’t, and it is almost impossible for me to judge them. How do you get over rape, famine, seeing your family getting killed, losing a child, long time imprisonment, war, etc.? The list includes what I like to call “big trauma”. One could argue my list is subjective, and it is. Feel free to add any trauma you might find “big” on that list.
Here is the thing: I believe feeling JUST sorry for people doesn’t help them. I could tell you a thousand stories right now and some people would feel sorry for me. Yet, if I were to keep bringing those sorry stories up, it would be a ploy for people to feel sorry for me, to see me as a victim. Personally, I don’t like it when others seem me as a victim. Yes, I am sometimes, but NOT ALL THE TIME.
A guy friend says he doesn’t trust women because one of his exes cheated on him. He brings it up every chance he gets. We were feeling sorry for him for a while but now what? We played his game or we got lured into thinking about his pain but he is the one not moving on, he is the one who is crippling any relationship he might have because some woman, that none of us remember, cheated on him. He is actively playing the victim card. Yes, he was a victim, but now, he has been defined by that victimhood so passionately that it is part of his psychological DNA and he doesn’t want to let it go. I guess it gives him a meaning. I swear to God, if you talk to him long enough, he cannot wait to talk to you about that “bitch” that cheated on him! Who talks to strangers and confides in the first 10 minutes? Come on, bro!
Unbeknownst to him, he taught me a valuable lesson: he got me to stop seeing just the victim in people. Once you stop doing that, it is a powerful feeling. I am not advocating to never feel sorry for people. No!! Please, have empathy, feel sorry for someone’s pain and sorrow, comfort them, listen to them, offer any help you can but do not stop at empathy, at feeling sorry! I believe feeling sorry is the first step of understanding them, which means other steps await. Hopefully, they are able to show you other sides of them. Dig and find a way to help them long term because they might need long term help.
No one chooses to be a victim of a crime, an attack or any other offense that might be committed onto them. No one chooses that. Perpetrators are the real culprits, always. Victims are just that, they are the victims. Yet, defining someone, anyone just by their victimhood is definitely the wrong thing to do. Seeing just victimhood is doing a disservice to them. We are supposed to help them heal, not putting the “victim” label on their forehead permanently.
There is always more to any person than whatever bad thing that ever happened to them. There is always something we can do, or they can do. If they cannot do it by themselves, then seeking help from a professional, something I strongly recommend, is always the best option.
Now, if you see yourself as an eternal victim, please, for the love of all the Gods, stop doing that if you can and if you cannot, seek help. People will feel sorry for you for a little while, and then they will stop. Empathy is like anything else; it has an expiration date. Please seek help and make your healing your badge of honor.
Just one man’s opinion.
Now smile and go on with your day.