It's funny how quickly I decide whether I like someone or not. Over the weekend I met 70 people and made some new friends quickly, grew to like others enormously, and never warmed to some. One of the fellows had seemed very nice during his contributions to the webinars we've been attending and I'd looked forward to meeting him. But once I met him, once I listened to him share with the group the same things he'd been sharing for weeks, once I ate a meal with him and he shared the same issues, the same concerns, the same stories, I could see that he was in a rut.
I felt for him. I did. I've been in some big emotional ruts. Struggled with the same problem for years. But I've learned that sharing a problem and actively seeking a solution are not the same as telling the story again and again. His repetition of his story to anyone who would listen had a deadness to it that made it impossible for me to connect with him. And it took me a while to figure out why not for it was clear that he was in pain about it.
And then after I watched some other people share at the microphone and experienced the aliveness of their story, I realized that when we expose our pain for the first time or two, we are standing in an opening for solution, for resolution. We crack our hearts open and are available for healing. But when we just return again and again to the same crack in the heart, we're keeping the wound going, not healing. We're seeking sympathy not solution.
A sponsor years ago would ask me, before I told her my tale of woe, how many others I had already shared this with. If I sit one or two, she would listen. If I said three, she'd say I'd told it enough and needed to move on. A good reminder.