In my previous Blog, I asked the question, “Are You A Tad Over Melodramatic Too?” Even though I was asking about yourself, I did also offer some simple advice on how to deal with such people when you come across them. However, in keeping my advice simple, I have over compensated somewhat, as has been pointed out to me by someone who has been in the business longer than me. So to correct my over simplistic advice from yesterday, I offer His advice to you with my complete endorsement and appreciation.
“Hi Walter: This goes to the heart of a philosophy (or theology) of pastoral care. There is much that could be said and I will try not to do that.
The caricature of pastoral care is the Catholic priest saying to the newly pregnant 15 year old, "I know how you feel!"
I am sure you will know that this is wrong and unhelpful. Empathy - which you hint at by saying 'Don't laugh at them.' is certainly the right first response. However, moving too quickly to "try and show that there are worse situations than that, that they could be in etc." insults their intelligence and mostly shows you are not listening well enough to them. You are more likely to be on about your own agenda, which is probably that you are uncomfortable at their pain or too busy laughing at their perceived stupidity to care properly.
Here endeth the lesson! Cheers: ***”
As we both pointed out clearly, we do have to take their responses seriously, and to listen to them fully, but eventually, we will have to try and move them on, even if not as quickly as my original simplistic view indicated. As My friend correctly pointed out, our agenda has to be in helping them get through and over their perceived problem as quickly and as painlessly as possible, and not for any other reason; and certainly not from any personal agenda. What say you now?