As sensitives, other people love having us as mediators. We tend to easily see the many sides of an issue, we sympathize with people taking different positions, and we end up being stuck in the middle. At best, we’re merely pressured to choose a side, at worst we can end up the scapegoat.
I’ve come to understand three important things:
1. If people come to me to talk about other people….they’re too scared to confront the only other person that they could sort the issue out with. And that person ain’t me. Time to disengage!
2. When people are scared to deal with their own issues, they will start looking for a scapegoat. Give them an opening (sympathetic ear) and before long you’ll become the scapegoat. Why? Because as sensitives we’re friendly and understanding. We’re not as scary as the person they need to have it out with. Hence we are a preferable dumping ground for the projection of difficult emotions. Know that, when someone is not willing to own their stuff, all you can do is refuse to receive it.
Just because someone decides to have a conversation with you doesn’t mean you have to oblige.Click to tweet
In fact, while we tend to worry about how to “break the ending-the-conversation-news”, I’ve found this is often magically unnecessary. The most remarkable thing is true about interactions: other people will make up their own explanation (that suits them) to explain your behaviour. Here’s an example:
The other day, I was biking along a wooded path and met an old man. (sounds like a Hans Christian Anderson tale doesn’t it, except, the man was not so much wise and mysterious as stubborn and slightly stupid, read on…) He wanted to know whether he was on the right path to a nearby village. I explained that, since we were headed in opposite directions and I had just come from a different village than he needed to get to, that this was not the right path. In fact, I was on familiar territory, and could explain how he needed to retrace his route a few hundred metres and then take a left. The man asked the same question again, for, he explained, he was sure he must be on the right path. I kindly explained again that he wasn’t and needed to turn again. The man appeared completely unreceptive and again asked me the same question. At that point I realized I really wasn’t getting through. He was not slightly deaf, slow, or otherwise limited. He was completely blocked. And, if I didn’t end this conversation now, I’d be listening to reruns of his familiar story the rest of the afternoon. So, I said -quite illogically- that I didn’t know which path he needed to take.
Then he said: “ah, you’re not from this neigborhood are you.”
And voila, his brain had come up with, what was to him a perfectly acceptable explanation for the situation: “he was right and I was lost.”