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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I don't know about you, but when I'm listening to others I'm often reminded of experiences I've had that are similar to what they are telling me about, and these memories help me to recapture how I felt in that situation, allowing me to identify with them better. It seems like sharing these memories is a way to show I'm personally engaged in the conversation - illustrating that I'm hearing them and can identify with what they've experienced. It seems very natural. I see it as offering a part of myself to share in return for their sharing a part of themselves, and I like it when others share with me like that.

However I sometimes get the impression that other people find this form of identifying with them to simply indicate self-centeredness. They think I just want to talk about myself, rather than understanding it as an indication that I can identify with them. Perhaps they don't find it important whether I can personally identify or not? Sometimes they also may take it as me trying to "one-up" their story, which also isn't my intention, though certainly some people do this. I suppose the difference is all in the subtle tone of voice and all that.

I'm sure we've all experienced those people who don't seem to hear what anyone else is saying and constantly turn the conversation back onto some self-glorifying topic, but I don't think that's what's going on all the time, even when we percieve it that way. Sometimes it may just be their attempts to identify with us and share a part of themselves.

I thought this may be something that NFs do, and perhaps we are more aware of people's intentions during conversations like this (whether they are simply identifying, or bragging).

So what are your experiences regarding people's reactions to your attempts to identify with them or share personal stories? Do you often share in this way? Do you ever find that people get annoyed when you thought you were just sharing friendly conversation?
 

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So what are your experiences regarding people's reactions to your attempts to identify with them or share personal stories?

I often find when I share a story reiterating my understanding of what they are going through, people will look a bit incredulous, or seem like they are impatient for me to finish so they can talk more about what is bothering them.

Do you often share in this way?

ALL the time, and I also feel I come across as self-centered (and have even feared that I really am), when it is merely how I identify with another's pain or problem. I can hear myself in my head as I talk saying "why are you talking about you, you're supposed to be helping them?" But it is the only way I know how to express empathy.

Do you ever find that people get annoyed when you thought you were just sharing friendly conversation? I have a lot of anecdotes about many different topics, and when I chime in I feel the impression others have is that I am a know-it-all or they simply ignore me and talk over me at times. The latter really bothers me, it makes me feel that my experiences - even though they are similar to theirs - are somehow invalid in comparison to theirs.
 

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To really understand a persons situation one must have empathy, with that comes identifying with a person through similar experiences. I dont see it as being "self centered", the intention is to understand them and to give your view so they can "feel better". How else can a person really understand someone if they havent felt or experienced similar emotions and situations.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·

Do you often share in this way?

ALL the time, and I also feel I come across as self-centered (and have even feared that I really am), when it is merely how I identify with another's pain or problem. I can hear myself in my head as I talk saying "why are you talking about you, you're supposed to be helping them?" But it is the only way I know how to express empathy.

I agree that it seems to be the way I naturally show empathy. Well, I also do a lot of "awww"-ing and giving people hugs, but I don't see how I can NOT be reminded of similar experiences when I'm sharing in someone's feelings, and if I say nothing how can they know I'm really feeling it with them?

Do you ever find that people get annoyed when you thought you were just sharing friendly conversation? I have a lot of anecdotes about many different topics, and when I chime in I feel the impression others have is that I am a know-it-all or they simply ignore me and talk over me at times. The latter really bothers me, it makes me feel that my experiences - even though they are similar to theirs - are somehow invalid in comparison to theirs.
I've experienced that feeling too, that somehow they think my experiences don't count, and I wonder if they realise they are making me feel this way.

To really understand a persons situation one must have empathy, with that comes identifying with a person through similar experiences. I dont see it as being "self centered", the intention is to understand them and to give your view so they can "feel better". How else can a person really understand someone if they havent felt or experienced similar emotions and situations.
Exactly. I feel like it sounds really lame when I just say "I understand" because how do they know that? If they know that I've actually been in a similar situation, then my claim to understand them is a lot more believable. I've often felt like people were 'just saying that' to me when they really couldn't understand my feelings, but if they elaborated on the time when they did experience this feeling I felt like they could truely understand me at a deeper level. And that is a good feeling.

I also dislike it when someone listens to me a lot as I divulge all my feelings and anecdotes about my life, but they don't give me equal insight into their personal experience. I don't trust people who don't mutually share when I open up to them.

I've also noticed that some people almost seem to have this dislike of being identified with, like whenever someone tries to say "I understand" they feel the need to refute that and insist that their situation is different. Almost like someone understanding them is a threatening idea, like they need to be mysterious. Even though they are sharing a personal feeling and story, they seem to want others to tell them that they don't understand and that their experience is unique, rather than desiring a sense of identification and knowing they aren't alone in their feelings. That attitude always catches me off guard, it's just so foreign to me.
 
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