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Connecting With Others Through Compassion — Something Your Therapist Didn’t Teach You

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In psychotherapy, there is a concept of transference and counter-transference.

The patient unconsciously projects something onto the therapist from something in their life. Perhaps the patient enrages the therapist, bores them, arouses them, etc. This is something that causes patterns of behavior or occurrences in the patient’s life, and the therapist must acknowledge that they are being emotionally drawn into this before responding.

The therapist must then choose how to respond to these triggers in a very careful and compassionate way.

Many therapists fail to acknowledge this process entirely.

Many non-therapists are not aware that this happens to them on a daily basis.

Some of us get caught up in the transference and feel as if we have done something wrong, and some are able to remove themselves from the situation. They recognize that this person does not make me feel good, so I will make myself less available to them.

Of course, there are people that empower us, make us feel good, joyous, energized, etc. We like those people, we keep them close.


Let’s take an example…

Your friend tells you that they are in the most loving relationship ever, with the greatest partner. You, not being in a relationship that sounds this good, or even being in one at all feel insecure and begin a whole line of negative self-talk.

What often happens is that, in telling you how amazing something is, the other person is often propping up insecurity of theirs. The subtext of the comment is one of insecurity and that gets transferred to you emotionally.

Because the person who is at peace and secure does not need to justify this, they are actually the ones who empower us, who show us that we can achieve these things.

Let’s not lose track here…

Your friend is insecure, but hiding it behind this façade. You feel their pain, particularly if you have a proclivity toward empathy.

You recognize their insecurity because you too lack the same security in your life. You know the pain of not being in a loving relationship and you become triggered. Yet this friend is still not admitting to the pain of not being in a loving relationship, because they are masking it like a gift-wrapped turd. But you can smell what’s inside the gift.


Here is the tricky bit. I have no defined way of responding to this. A therapist will have to determine the best way of responding to this depending on the patient, just like you will need to consider how well you communicate with this person before responding.

Most importantly, we must remain compassionate. This thing is actually something that bonds us as humans. We have both felt the same insecurity.

Perhaps we respond with something vulnerable, like “I wish I had a loving relationship”. Perhaps we take a more avoidant route with, “that’s nice”. Or perhaps we begin a line of inquiry as to what makes their situation so amazing. We are not looking to catch them out, but looking for a mutual understanding of what love is. Perhaps you realize that they are unable to go beyond the superficial, or perhaps you are able to share with them what your idea of love is and empower them to seek this out, however, that may seem.


When we feel attacked, we must be able to stop and look at the attacker and try to understand what they want from us. What are they trying to take from us? What are they trying to give to us?

Will you accept their invitation to come and play in the mud, or will you offer them to join you to frolic in the meadow?

Jungle Is Massive.

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