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  1. #1
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Default People who unload on you and don't understand...

    I've had this problem with a few people in my life. We fall into a pattern where I'm somehow the therapist listening to them vent and unload. Sometimes it can go both ways (I do have healthy friendships where it goes both ways) but if you try to unload on them, they might even be dismissive. At any rate, it's mostly them doing the unloading.

    Ultimately it gets too much because you feel stressed, upset, you see them making bad decisions in clear contradiction of what they previously said to you...etc. You express this to them. They just don't get it. They don't understand why you might feel exhausted, frustrated, emotional or personally involved.

    How do you deal with this? Do you see these patterns emerging and nip them in the bud? Do you distance yourself but still remain cordial with the person? How?
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    This is one of the stories of my life, family members, friends and colleagues at work too. Hell of a lot of lack of reflectiveness or mindfulness and attacking it head on with a "Do you see what you're doing here? Yet again?" usually only provoked hostility.

    Its not been good for me because its resulted, slowly, in a build up where I get bad tempered at the hint of "here it is, yet again", so jokes, minor isolated incidents or excuseable or understandable crisis can get misconstrued by myself when those people are involved or I suspect they are involved.

    Its worse still because since I do have the reflectiveness, sometimes to a fault, I really dont permit myself to behave in the same way. It'd be fine if I was one of the sainted few who can be on the receiving end of toxic states of being and somehow neutralise it, sometimes its possible, but most of the time I know its going to be stored up on a mental shelf.

    I've read a fair bit about this and there's two camps from what I can tell, one suggests that you dont label the individuals involved at all, that you just behave as charitably as possible to them, be as helpful as you can and derive some kind of satisfaction from consciously knowing that you've helped someone who's challenged in ways you're not. The idea being that you're not compounding whatever toxic effect they could be having on you with rationalisations that you can expect more, that they will never change, that this is at the root of their nature and that its so bad its got a name all of its own.

    The other camp is that you should tell what sort of personality you're dealing with and devise a plan for dealing with them accordingly, histrionics, obsessives, narcissists, anti-social types all having different triggers, needs which they're looking to others to meet for them, which will require a different response, even if ultimately they're all emotional vampires.

    I'm undecided how best to deal, I try to limit their time in my company, I've got one or two good friend who I can talk to who doesnt vent to other people, I vent to them and they know that most of the rest of the time people are venting to me. Most of the time though, me personally, I boil it down to some kind of self-mastery, you need to be able to self-regulate, when you got people "paying forward" toxic emotional states or using you as a crutch its an additional challenge but such is life. Sometimes I just give particular people and situations a really wide bearth, use other more positive people to reinvigorate myself.

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    What if it all suddenly stopped?

    No one came to "unload" on you, no came to seek your advice,shoulder or ear?

    Would you eventually miss it?

  4. #4
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Thanks Lark. That's quite helpful. Every situation is different. I really like what you said about not labelling the people involved. What I find is that I don't label them...and I don't label them...and I don't label them...and then we pass some kind of point of ultimate frustration and I label them, big-time. And it doesn't help anyone, except for providing me with a knee-jerk sense of superiority. I am aware of that.

    Communication styles are an issue here too, which of course is what typology is all about. With NF friends, I think sometimes they have been so caught up in their emotional state at the time that they haven't realised that it could just be too much ultimately for me and having a really negative effect. With at least one SP friend, it seems they just don't get it. It's almost like a selective memory thing. If I told them they've been unloading on me for years and that's why I'm now getting upset, they look bewildered and annoyed and it's almost as though they think the unloading never happened. They'll come back with some hurt sarcasm like "well, I'm sorry I've wasted your time" and you think "noooooooooooo...it's not like that...I just wish you would a) be more self-aware and stop saying one thing and doing another and b) start being more aware of my feelings as well!!"

    Quote Originally Posted by Arclight View Post
    What if it all suddenly stopped?

    No one came to "unload" on you, no came to seek your advice,shoulder or ear?

    Would you eventually miss it?
    Yeah, I probably would. I like being able to feel that I can help people out. It really encourages me that I'm not a waste of space when someone says "thanks so much for listening, I feel better now, you've helped me work things out" or whatever.

    But I'm not talking about all venting. It's not that I never want anyone to cry on my shoulder again. I'd like to have at least a few friendships where we can do that for each other. It's when you realise that it's become very one-sided or toxic. Or where the person never or seldom says "sorry, I'm unloading all this on you" - just as an acknowledgement, or thanks you. Even if you would mostly then come back with "no, really, it's no problem, glad I can help." Or when you feel like you'd like to unload a bit on them, they come back with some pat comment or something dismissive, where you'd listened to them ramble on about their issues maybe for hours. Or where the person constantly says one thing to you about their frustrations, the things they want to accomplish, etc, and then acts in direct contradiction of those - not just sometimes, as we all do, but almost all the time. In certain cases it's made me feel a bit like "is this all rubbish, what you're saying to me? Is it just to establish some kind of spurious connection with me, because your actions indicate something completely different?"
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    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Sometimes that sense of superiority is alright, its a kind of survival mechanism to help cope with the stress of being in that position.

    Type is really, really major, so is maturation, but mainly type and I've totally experienced that sort of typed communication before too. It actually is good to hear that, especially phrased that way with the presumption of rejection riding on the back of simple/factual feedback.

    Its one thing having a misunderstanding in a moment, when perhaps the reptilian brain is in control or your operating on instinct under stress, but if after an outburst, when you've calmed down you maintain conclusions that you reached at that point it can be really frustrating, which to me is the difference between Thinking, Feeling or High Feeling functioning.

  6. #6
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    It also gets pretty frustrating when someone comes to you with the same problem over and over again and don't even try to fix it. At some point, you've gotta say.. "You know what? I've said my piece. There's nothing more that I can say. Wake me up when things change."


    I've distanced myself from others in one respect--I've recognized that their decisions are their responsibility. I don't really attempt to coddle them, nor do I get personally invested in their decisions unless they actually do affect me.

    So, someone else makes bad decisions that causes them distress. Why should I continually take on their negative feelings as my own, given that I have so little control over the cause of those feelings?

    When they're talking things out with me, sure.. empathy, even when negative emotions are involved, is great. People need someone to care during these moments. But after we're done talking, I've got to separate myself from them, to not continue to stay so invested. It's too draining otherwise.

    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    With at least one SP friend, it seems they just don't get it. It's almost like a selective memory thing. If I told them they've been unloading on me for years and that's why I'm now getting upset, they look bewildered and annoyed and it's almost as though they think the unloading never happened.
    Yeah, unfortunately, when you've reached that point (years of unloading), you've already established a pattern of expectations that can't be broken very easily. One expression of how frustrating it is to you, after all this time, probably won't be enough.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    I've had this problem with a few people in my life. We fall into a pattern where I'm somehow the therapist listening to them vent and unload. Sometimes it can go both ways (I do have healthy friendships where it goes both ways) but if you try to unload on them, they might even be dismissive. At any rate, it's mostly them doing the unloading.

    Ultimately it gets too much because you feel stressed, upset, you see them making bad decisions in clear contradiction of what they previously said to you...etc. You express this to them. They just don't get it. They don't understand why you might feel exhausted, frustrated, emotional or personally involved.
    Yeah, it happens sometimes. I think my tolerance for it is pretty high, but if it seems like there is no other reason for me to be in their lives, then I will feel somehow "used". Then I tend to avoid them. It's not like I am being cruel for not wanting to hear the story about someone's cat dying five years ago, it is just that it is the tenth time they are telling it to me...

    Once I had this happen another way around, though... I had this friend who I had shared many things with, and had gotten a lot better by the "therapeutic" relationship. The thing is, I saw her after a six months I've been away, and it was weird, I was quite ok now, but she kept trying to dig something, some more wounds out of me. And it wasn't enough to say that I was really ok now and don't need it. I think she interpreted it like I was in denial with my problems. Well, what I did was distance myself, once again. I felt uneasy being a puzzle for someone to solve, no matter how much I felt gratitude for her being there for me when I needed it.

  8. #8
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bologna View Post

    I've distanced myself from others in one respect--I've recognized that their decisions are their responsibility. I don't really attempt to coddle them, nor do I get personally invested in their decisions unless they actually do affect me.

    So, someone else makes bad decisions that causes them distress. Why should I continually take on their negative feelings as my own, given that I have so little control over the cause of those feelings?

    When they're talking things out with me, sure.. empathy, even when negative emotions are involved, is great. People need someone to care during these moments. But after we're done talking, I've got to separate myself from them, to not continue to stay so invested. It's too draining otherwise.
    Your approach is excellent and that's just what I would like to do. Be caring and empathetic but distance myself enough to detach, so I don't get mad or upset when they then go and make the stupid decisions they said they never would...or whatever. But I don't really know HOW to do that. It's like my emotions get invested all on their own. I can't sufficiently bring logic to bear on my emotions in such situations. Any suggestions for how you do it??


    Quote Originally Posted by nolla View Post
    Once I had this happen another way around, though... I had this friend who I had shared many things with, and had gotten a lot better by the "therapeutic" relationship. The thing is, I saw her after a six months I've been away, and it was weird, I was quite ok now, but she kept trying to dig something, some more wounds out of me. And it wasn't enough to say that I was really ok now and don't need it. I think she interpreted it like I was in denial with my problems. Well, what I did was distance myself, once again. I felt uneasy being a puzzle for someone to solve, no matter how much I felt gratitude for her being there for me when I needed it.
    That's also not good. I've had the experience of talking things out with someone and later it was almost like they turned it around and used it against me. One friendship where we vented to each other but ultimately it turned quite toxic, she basically came back to me and told me how sad and distressing it was that I was so messed up, I was always anticipating the worst etc, and as an example of "anticipating the worst" she cited the fact that I was wondering if the weather was going to be as warm as I wanted it to be when I took my holiday to Morocco...I mean, come on!!! There's something definitely toxic about a setup like that, and I think she had a lot of issues herself and was sort of shifting them onto me. Then I had to distance myself majorly.

    I guess there are some people who "need" you to be messed up, because they feel stronger or closer to you when you're in distress...? I don't think I've been like that with any of the friends venting to me, I certainly hope not. I prefer less drama, so if things are going well for them, all the better for both them and me. I mean, even if things are generally going well there will always be some personal issues to consider so we can still have those conversations if we want
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    I've had this problem with a few people in my life. We fall into a pattern where I'm somehow the therapist listening to them vent and unload. Sometimes it can go both ways (I do have healthy friendships where it goes both ways) but if you try to unload on them, they might even be dismissive. At any rate, it's mostly them doing the unloading.

    Ultimately it gets too much because you feel stressed, upset, you see them making bad decisions in clear contradiction of what they previously said to you...etc. You express this to them. They just don't get it. They don't understand why you might feel exhausted, frustrated, emotional or personally involved.

    How do you deal with this? Do you see these patterns emerging and nip them in the bud? Do you distance yourself but still remain cordial with the person? How?
    I haven't mastered this yet. I know I will/can avoid people who are draining me. When people ask me for advice, and then do the opposite, I tend to think, "Then why the f*ck did you ask me?" I'm not saying my answer is the most righteous, but I really put consideration into the help people ask me for. I am of the mindset that because the person asking for help, it is really needed and there may be a way I can help work through the problem.

    But I've learned that some people don't want advice...they want affirmation for poor behavior. My eldest niece is this way. The "friend" I doorslammed is also like this. They wanted everyone to help them and be concerned about their lives, but when reciprocity was imminent, they bailed....

    Some people will never fix anything in their lives unless they're left to flail in the water, so to speak. And I figure leaving them to flail is helping them. Sounds cold, but I don't really think it is. I think it works.

    At this point in my life, I will say I don't allow much dumpage. There are a FEW people who can do this with me, and it's really because it's not really dumpage...it's both of us dumping and then we both sit and sort through the mess to find what we both need out of it.....

    I'm not willing to let anyone emotionally drain me this way anymore. It's the quickest way to shadow mode for me. And that chick is NOT SEXY...

  10. #10
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quay View Post

    Some people will never fix anything in their lives unless they're left to flail in the water, so to speak. And I figure leaving them to flail is helping them. Sounds cold, but I don't really think it is. I think it works.
    Yup, that's what I'm thinking with the SP in my life. In his case the most frustrating thing is the massively huge disparity between what he says and what he does. Um yeah, vent to me for years about a situation in your life, extricate yourself from that situation, vent to me about it some more and swear you'll never go back...then turn around and go back to that situation, and any reasons offered are pretty much nonsensical. And then when I got mad/upset (not the best reaction, but that's still what happened) he's like "You do what's best for you and please let me do what's best for me!" This is someone who TOLD ME a very short time before that they had no idea what was best for them, and in fact I'm pretty sure they've been swayed by some manipulative "friends." I am going to have to work out a way to say kindly but firmly, when they come back and start whining to me about being back in this situation (which sooner or later they almost certainly will), "don't come crying to me...you have to work this out yourself now. Let me know how it all turns out."

    Quote Originally Posted by Quay View Post


    At this point in my life, I will say I don't allow much dumpage. There are a FEW people who can do this with me, and it's really because it's not really dumpage...it's both of us dumping and then we both sit and sort through the mess to find what we both need out of it.....

    I'm not willing to let anyone emotionally drain me this way anymore. It's the quickest way to shadow mode for me. And that chick is NOT SEXY...
    Yeah, I hear you. When it's mutual, those can be close and rewarding friendships. I'd like to think there can be at least a bit of mutual dumpage with my closest friends. Though even there you have to be careful because if that's the only foundation for a friendship, it's not healthy. You have to be able to have at least some light and happy times with your friends! If it's all dumpage it could turn into a scary co-dependent thing or the kind of situation I described above where they use the dumpage against you or refuse to believe that you're actually feeling pretty good about life.
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