Psycho-Babble Psychology | about psychological treatments | Framed
This thread | Show all | Post follow-up | Start new thread | List of forums | Search | FAQ

Protecting ourselves. Chapter 1

Posted by fallsfall on June 27, 2004, at 9:53:26

Recently I stepped back from Babble a bit. I used to read every single post on Psychological and Social and Admin (and even the meds board at one time). I found that I was "taking on" other posters problems, feeling responsible for solving them, feeling required to comfort people. I think that in many ways this was a way for me to avoid looking at my own issues - if I was always stressed out about other people's issues then I didn't have the energy to worry about my own, it also worked as a distraction for me.

So I backed away a bit. I still email/IM/Open with posters I have met in the past. I read selected threads. I choose the threads I will read based on the subject line, and often who is posting. I would love to get to know other new posters, but right now in my life I can't do a lot of that. I just don't have the capacity. So maybe I'm being elitist, I prefer to think that I am protecting myself from overload. My email address is well known, I come to Open "often (?)", and I would always read a post if it were directed to me. These are my boundaries right now. My boundaries have been chosen to acknowledge my limits and to encourage Babble to be a positive part of my life.

I think that every poster needs to find their own boundaries. For me, trying to "fix" and "rescue" people wasn't good for me - and it wasn't good for them either. It IS possible to "support" without fixing or rescuing (or bossing). I honestly don't really know how to do that yet. But I have determined that *for me* the first step is to convince myself that it isn't my responsibility (and duty and mandate) to fix and rescue. It will probably take me a while to get used to this change. I'm hoping that, after that, I'll be able to figure out better how to "support" without doing those things.

One important change that I made early on in this process was to decide not to read the admin board. I chose this because reading the admin board was distressing for me. There is a lot of conflict on that board, and conflict is hard for me and makes me want to "solve" it, and then I get mad at myself when I can't. I feel guilty about NOT reading the admin board. I feel that it is important for the Babble community to have a say (or at least have a way to speak) in how things are run here. But for me, right now, watching friends get hurt because they are trying to (dare I say) fix and rescue other posters is something that is too painful. Maybe because I am so scared of being "wrong" and punished myself - maybe that is why it is so hard to watch other people suffer when they are trying so hard to do a "good thing". (Light bulb...) I am handling the guilt of not reading admin better than I was handling the anxiety from reading it. (And this particular point is quite surprising to me - backing away, not acting has never been the way I have done things)

I decided in the beginning of my "backing away" that there were particular subject and particular posters who were especially distressing to me. So even before I backed away in general I did decide to stop reading particular threads. This was incredibly, incredibly hard. The threads I needed to stop reading were the threads where I felt I was "needed" the most. Where I hoped that my "wisdom" would somehow be better than the other 10 posters who were trying to help on that thread. Where I felt the hurting poster's pain vividly. I think that the hardest part for me was realizing (and I still struggle with this daily) that it is NOT MY JOB to save every person who is in distress. (second light bulb - I think I want to save every other person who is in distress because I want someone to want to save ME that much. This is too touchy for me to expound on at this moment...) There ARE times when I can help. There ARE posters who I can help. There ARE situations where my knowledge or experience can make a difference. But, as much as I want to help others, if it is damaging to myself then I really can't do it. So I needed to be more discriminating about when I would and when I wouldn't get involved.

It was (and is) so hard for me to believe that I am not being "bad" or "wrong" to take care of myself.

There are different ways that we can each protect ourselves. For me, picking and choosing what threads I would read has worked (the other part of this is that if I start to read a thread that becomes distressing to me - where I start getting into the "I MUST save this situation, but I don't seem to be helping, so I MUST need to try harder" mode of thinking - I had to learn to STOP reading a thread. This required recognizing the "dangerous" threads and then deciding that protecting myself was MORE important than standing up for my friends. That sounds so awful, and cold and heartless and selfish. And maybe it is. But the alternative was to spend my time "living" other people's stress in addition to my own - somehow that doesn't make much sense either.)

I understand why some posters "fight" for an issue for another poster (either by posting in response to an attacking poster, or by trying to convince Dr. Bob that he needs to act or change the rules). And I understand why people feel that they need to take a break from Babble. What I have done is similar to taking a break, but it isn't as extreme. This lets me still keep in touch - to see and provide support, to ask for support for myself. I guess that what distresses me about people who feel that they have to leave is that it ends up being an all or nothing solution. They get away from the pain, but they also lose the benefit of Babble - and Babble loses the benefit of having them there to support and be supported *when they can*. (For those of you know know me, you know that I am Queen of the Black and White World - and here I am actually advocating Grey. Could be progress.)

I wish that others could assuage their guilt by posting "This thread is distressing me, so I will no longer participate in it. Please know that *I* believe that [state your position briefly]. My compassion for others who are hurting right now continues, but I will need to find another way to give them support." If others felt the need to repond to THIS post, perhaps they could start a new thread which would NOT discuss the *content* of the distressing thread, but would simply be a place where others could support the poster's decision to abandon the distressing thread.

I have learned a lot about this on Babble. And Babble gives me a wonderful opportunity to experiment with alternative ways of dealing with things. I think that one way it does that is that on Babble *I* am not the only person "supporting" someone. I may relate more closely with their particular issue, or I may think that I have the most "wisdom", or I might be closer to a particular poster than others are - but there *are* others who are here to help, so if I can't be the "saver", then someone else will step up to the plate (or, dare I say, perhaps the person doesn't *need* to be saved...). I believe that this is true in the real world, too - but is seems easier to me to learn this on Babble.

This is enough for now. Possible future chapters include "Why protecting ourselves can actually *help* those who are hurting us" and "More about how I'm not the only one in the world who is competent and qualified to save the day" and "Why *saving* people isn't always doing them a favor".

(P.S. This belongs on this board because it has to do with the "process" of becoming healthier. It discusses how I am trying to use the therapeutic aspects of Babble - in the same way that I have discussed trying to use the therapeutic aspects of my Therapy in the past.)




Post a new follow-up

Your message only Include above post

Notify the administrators

They will then review this post with the posting guidelines in mind.

To contact them about something other than this post, please use this form instead.


Start a new thread

Google www
Search options and examples
[amazon] for

This thread | Show all | Post follow-up | Start new thread | FAQ
Psycho-Babble Psychology | Framed

poster:fallsfall thread:360933