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Faydra Lune

"I know exactly how you feel..."

There are two phrases (or versions of phrases) that I've been seeing a lot around here that make me twitch.

"I know exactly how you feel," and "I'm sorry."

We're all guilty or have been guilty of saying this at some point, and they really are said to be helpful and comforting. Unfortunately, few people actually realize what they are saying.

Please note that I am speaking very generally to avoid getting too lost in every specific situation. That would take way too long. ._.

When people say "I'm sorry," it is most often because they have done something regretful and are apologizing for it, or it is said out of pity ("I feel sorry for you."), and no one likes to be pitied. When someone says "I'm sorry," in a situation that does not need their apology, it just doesn't fit and it certainly doesn't help. If I'm ranting, one of the last things I want to hear from the person I am speaking to is "I'm sorry." I usually take that as "Stop venting at me!" which then makes me even more depressed/angry/frustrated or I ask "What are you sorry for? You didn't do anything..."

Often times people use this term when they actually mean "I am empathetic," which means they are able to put themselves in your position. However, this brings us to the next phrase. "I know exactly how you feel," or "I know exactly what you're going through," which are both commonly used to convey empathy as well.

Many times people think they know exactly what someone is feeling or going through, but they really don't. This is also often the bridge to their own personal story which is usually shared in a competitive nature ("My problem is worse than yours!") or as a way to get their own story heard, completely forgetting that they should be listening. A feeling is completely personal and it's very nearly impossible to know exactly what it is someone is going through (unless someone tells you "This is exactly how I am feeling," and they are perfect in describing it. Most of us don't even know exactly how to describe what we're feeling much of the time.) It's important to remember, as a listener (or reader) that the person speaking/typing is not you, and you don't "exactly" know anything about them, even if you truly believe you do.

Instead of saying you know what they are going through or how they feel, prove it with your helpful advice or even by just asking "so this is how you feel?" or "this is what you are going through?" Instead, maybe say "I understand what you are saying." It's still possible that you don't understand what they are trying to say (which isn't always the listeners fault), but at least you are not acting like you know all and see all, and you can ask them if you understand by reiterating the basics (and usually the more coherent) of what they are saying (without parroting, because that's annoying).

Most of the time when people come here and vent or share their stories, they just want to be heard. I know when I talk to people about this stuff, I want someone to really listen to me and not use the previously mentioned phrases. As far as acne goes, no one's acne is exactly alike and I sure as hell don't want to be pitied forof my bad skin.

Make sure you understand what the person is saying, and also be sure you understand what you are saying. It's a tough habit to get out of, but it gets easier with practice as all things do.

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