I have been asked on occasion if having cancer changed me and I can say that the answer is a definite YES! The first thing I tell them is that I changed my diet to vegan. The second is — I stopped worrying about petty bullshit…you know the stuff like “he did this or she did that…” It’s the water cooler gossip that we have all either joined in on or tried to ignore. The most important thing I do not miss from the “working world” — is the petty bullshit. If people just minded their own business…
I think there is something about the human psyche that is drawn to drama. I have been guilty of it myself but these days I can’t stand to hear it. I recently read an article about empathy and how it is better to just listen to someone’s problems without judgment or advice…but where do we or rather I draw the line? I am a problem solver. I read that women are better listeners than men (men tend to want to “fix” things and move on)…women want to talk about their problems and not fix anything. Maybe I have higher testosterone levels than the average woman because (especially post cancer) I can’t stand to hear … what I call endless complaining.
Granted there are times in our lives that complaining is warranted, but it appears to me that most of the time the one complaining is really gossiping about another person’s behavior. I believe we are all responsible for our own actions. I cannot control someone else’s behavior BUT I can control how I do or do not respond to it. At the moment, my response is to avoid.
There is someone in particular I am having a tough time with now. To be honest she has had a “prickly” personality since I have known her. But she seems to have gotten worse or maybe I just have a lower tolerance for bullshit. To be honest she has had a legitimate reason for some complaining … 9 months ago her partner died and then she lost her house…but at the same time she has become quite “nasty”… The word “pleasant” would never be used to describe her… if you get my drift. Her legitimate complaints have turned into water cooler gossip about people I have never met. And anyone who tries to help her…like selling her house, is met with angry resistance.
My dilemma now is to figure out a way to address my feelings to her. I understand about empathy quite well, but at the same time, it is imperative for me to keep my stress levels at bay. We all know that stress lowers the immune system and I need to keep mine as strong as humanly possible. She wants me to visit this week and I do not want to go…the times we do see each other or via phone conversations she complains the entire time… or if I do get a word in…she interrupts me. I find myself thoroughly pissed off and that is not a healthy relationship.
Someone pointed out to me that my activism is probably causing me stress as well, but I don’t see it that way… activism is problem solving, even if it’s only making others aware of a situation. Complaining about the behavior of others, especially when it has no direct effect on the person complaining is, in my opinion…petty bullshit…and I no longer have time for that. What I would like to figure out is how to express that to my friend (and I say that term loosely) before I get angry with her… oh wait… I am angry with her, but I do believe in giving people chances instead of just throwing her away. She was one of the people who stopped by to help out when I was getting treatment, so I know she isn’t a total “bitch” but these days I have to look very hard.
Empathy is good and all but I am looking for positive advice or solutions, otherwise I am just complaining and I hate that.