How do you deal with emotionally needy people?

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How do you deal with emotionally needy people?

Postby catlady2112 » Sat Jun 15, 2013 11:41 pm

Everyone goes through hard times, and I try to help friends when things happens, but recently I have woken up to the fact that there are people in my life who talk endlessly about their problems and don't seem to want to take actions or suggestions. I find this type of interaction exhausting and fruitless.

I am not skilled like the Buddha in using my speech to help people like this.

I can't find any sutta's that talk about this kind of challenge in dealing with this kind of person.

Any tips?
Last edited by catlady2112 on Thu Jun 20, 2013 6:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How do you deal with emotionally needy people?

Postby Anagarika » Sun Jun 16, 2013 12:06 am

With challenging people I find it can be helpful to reflect on the idea of Metta, or the expression of goodwill toward others. It can also be helpful to embrace the sensibility of the bodhisatta, who sets aside his or her own enlightenment to work for the release of suffering of others. Many people lack the skills to navigate their own attachments and conflicts. They relieve their stress by spreading it to others, sometimes without regard as to the effect on the audience.

"Let none deceive another, Or despise any being in any state. Let none through anger or ill-will Wish harm upon another. Even as a mother protects with her life Her child, her only child, So with a boundless heart Should one cherish all living beings." Karaniya Metta Sutta http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .amar.html

It may not be skillful to either avoid needy people, or to rebuke them. Doing this will cause you suffering, too, enough that you posted on this forum to help understand this common dilemma. See if by meditating on Metta, you can devise strategies for dealing with emotionally challenging people.

Maybe this will help? Click this link: http://youtu.be/jniaUr_7438
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Re: How do you deal with emotionally needy people?

Postby Aloka » Sun Jun 16, 2013 1:48 am

.

This 5 minute metta instruction might be helpful because it includes people we have problems with.


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Re: How do you deal with emotionally needy people?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Jun 16, 2013 2:04 am

Greetings catlady,
catlady2112 wrote:What is the best thing to do? Drop them as friends? I feel like life is going by and I'd rather not invest my time with such people. ?

You may just be growing apart as people.

It seems some people are not willing or able to take ownership of their own lives, and their own happiness. They see their happiness as something that is dependent on external circumstances, of which they are the passive recipient. As a Buddhist, you know this is not so, and as such, any meaningful parallel in terms of how you live your lives is going to be missing.

Extract from Sn 1.3 Khaggavisana Sutta wrote:If you don't gain a mature companion,
a fellow traveler, right-living & wise,
wander alone
like a king renouncing his kingdom,
like the elephant in the Matanga wilds,
his herd.

We praise companionship
— yes!
Those on a par, or better,
should be chosen as friends.
If they're not to be found,
living faultlessly,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.


Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: How do you deal with emotionally needy people?

Postby chownah » Sun Jun 16, 2013 3:47 am

Catlady2112,
I know exactly what you are talking about. I had a friend many years ago who always talked about the troubles with her boyfriend. One day I looked at her and smiled calmly and said to her that it seemed like all that she wanted to talk to me about was the problems in her relationship with (insert name here) and that while it is important to talk about the issues we have in our lives it has gotten to the point that this is all that you talk to me about and I am really wanting to talk about something else.

Please note that these are not my exact words which I do not remember as this happened many many years ago but I hope that this gives you the idea. Also please note that this approach should be used only if you want to continue the friendship and if there is really no hope for that then I suggest not doing this as it can have the tendency to bring the two of you much closer as evidenced by the fact that my friend and I developed a close relationship thereafter.

Hard for me to believe that I am giving someone advice about relationships but there it is!
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Re: How do you deal with emotionally needy people?

Postby Crazy cloud » Sun Jun 16, 2013 4:28 am

If a person is depressed and out of balance, you use your own balance to help him or her. If the person uses complaints, respond with kind compassion verbal and nonverbal. Dont respond with reason before the other has gained his inner balance between reason and feeling. And if a person is locked in his own drama, then tell him about what you experience. Tell him that by dening to let go of drama, and seeking only to trap you in his world, is a control and power-game witch draines energy out of his "victims" - and is not fruitful for anybody

Best regards

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your name Mori means forest like the infinite fresh green distances of your blindness
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Re: How do you deal with emotionally needy people?

Postby Ben » Sun Jun 16, 2013 4:40 am

catlady2112 wrote:I can't find any sutta's that talk about this kind of challenge in dealing with this kind of person.

Any tips?


That is because the problem only appears to be external. The real issue is within.
Develop your brahmaviharas, your paramitas, develop samadhi and panna to eradicate your own inner defilements.
You will become less self-centred, more generous, have greater empathy and far greater clarity to see the kernel of any issue and deal with it effectively.
kind regards,

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in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: How do you deal with emotionally needy people?

Postby binocular » Sun Jun 16, 2013 6:48 am

catlady2112 wrote:Any tips?

Learn some assertiveness skills.
For example with this book.
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Re: How do you deal with emotionally needy people?

Postby PadmaPhala » Thu Jun 20, 2013 5:47 am

with karuna samadhi
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Re: How do you deal with emotionally needy people?

Postby lyndon taylor » Thu Jun 20, 2013 6:25 am

I find myself more in your friends position, of people not wanting to talk to me or not answering my calls, not that I talk that much about my own problems, maybe it might be a good exercise to reverse the positions and imagine what it might be like if your best friend was cutting you off and hanging up on you, then maybe, just maybe it would give you more patience and understanding of your friend, what if they have no one else to talk to, its one thing if your cutting of a friendship to someone who has lots of people to talk to, quite another thing to cut of ties to someone who might only have you as a friend.

I do have friends that constantly talk about their problems, so I talk about mine to them, other friends talk about their problems much less, I try to do the same to them.

So basically try putting yourself in their shoes, it may be that your friendship is not even so important to them and that's why they feel free to waste your time, and it might be quite the opposite, that you're the only person they've got. Think about it, meditate on it. And do what you think is right. That's the best you can do.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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Re: How do you deal with emotionally needy people?

Postby alan » Thu Jun 20, 2013 4:26 pm

Best way is to just get them out of your life.
Just as you'd turn off the TV when it becomes a distraction. You have no need for that nonsense.
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Re: How do you deal with emotionally needy people?

Postby lyndon taylor » Thu Jun 20, 2013 5:08 pm

Compassion??????
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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Re: How do you deal with emotionally needy people?

Postby duckfiasco » Thu Jun 20, 2013 5:50 pm

Help if you can, as a mother helps her child, being careful not to make these people into a "project."
If you can't help, see if just being a calm presence, uninvolved but loving, is what they need.
If you find yourself being dragged down while their situation stagnates, pray for them and move on.
No benefit to them yet a negative impact on your practice is a net loss.
There's nothing wrong with not being the right fit to know what to do for some people in their particular situations.

I've experienced exactly what you describe several times in the past few years.
I'm not a big talker in person, but I try to practice mindful listening.
People can sense this, as they seem to in your case.
Friends or people I barely know will tell me about all their difficulties and troubles.
It can be distressing because you want to help, but we know the challenge of addressing our own problems, let alone those of others.
We need wisdom, but we can't grow it directly, only provide its supporting factors.
Achaan Chah says it's like growing a tree. "Your job is to dig a hole, water and fertilize it, and protect it from insects. That much is your affair, a matter of faith. But the way the tree grows is up to the tree. If you practice like this, you can be sure all will be well, and your plant will grow."

So if you find some internal or external aspects of your life are like those insects, there's no one to blame.
A little sapling can't withstand a visit of hungry beetles, or the weight of a large crow.
But after you've grown it a while, following the instructions of skilled gardeners, it will hold many birds and insects won't be an issue.

Hope that helps.
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Re: How do you deal with emotionally needy people?

Postby lyndon taylor » Thu Jun 20, 2013 6:02 pm

If the path to enlightenment makes you dump all your friends that aren't up to your "standards" maybe your not really on the enlightened path to be of benefit to all sentient beings, and you're just thinking of yourself.......

I will admit if you've been heavy into drugs or alcohol, and you're trying to stay sober, you may need to distance yourself from you're enablers. But talking too much is not a crime, and learning to listen is not a quality that is not worth developing, so just think about it with some compassion, and do the right thing, not the selfish thing. That's my opinion.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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Re: How do you deal with emotionally needy people?

Postby duckfiasco » Thu Jun 20, 2013 6:31 pm

Lyndon, I'm sorry if my post sounded abrasive to you :group:

People caught in suffering sometimes try to find relief through proliferating negative speech that debases others or debases themselves.
This may not be what the original poster is experiencing, but it brought to mind experiences I've had.

Speech of this kind can be like a wall of smoke: it hides the true cause of suffering, makes the air hard to breathe for others, and if you wander in too far, you'll become lost and sick as well.
Being active practitioners, we have to trust that the effort we make is the best we can do given our karma and level of attainment.
We work with the mind and circumstances we have, even if we have "can't help this person now" mind.
I think this is what Achaan Chah meant, not that we should jettison people who fail to meet our standards.
It's more having the humility to know when we lack the wisdom to truly help.

Don't forget also that the Buddha said noble friends aren't half of the holy life; they are the WHOLE of the holy life.

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was living among the Sakyans. Now there is a Sakyan town named Sakkara. There Ven. Ananda went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to the Blessed One, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, Ven. Ananda said to the Blessed One, "This is half of the holy life, lord: admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie."[1]

"Don't say that, Ananda. Don't say that. Admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life. When a monk has admirable people as friends, companions, & comrades, he can be expected to develop & pursue the noble eightfold path.

"And how does a monk who has admirable people as friends, companions, & comrades, develop & pursue the noble eightfold path? There is the case where a monk develops right view dependent on seclusion, dependent on dispassion, dependent on cessation, resulting in relinquishment. He develops right resolve... right speech... right action... right livelihood... right effort... right mindfulness... right concentration dependent on seclusion, dependent on dispassion, dependent on cessation, resulting in relinquishment. This is how a monk who has admirable people as friends, companions, & colleagues, develops & pursues the noble eightfold path.

"And through this line of reasoning one may know how admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life: It is in dependence on me as an admirable friend that beings subject to birth have gained release from birth, that beings subject to aging have gained release from aging, that beings subject to death have gained release from death, that beings subject to sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair have gained release from sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. It is through this line of reasoning that one may know how admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: How do you deal with emotionally needy people?

Postby lyndon taylor » Thu Jun 20, 2013 6:57 pm

Sorry, duck fiasco, big misunderstanding; I was in complete agreement with your statement and should have mentioned that, I was still repying to the OP and Alan's sentiment.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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Re: How do you deal with emotionally needy people?

Postby Vern Stevens » Thu Jun 20, 2013 7:03 pm

There is a set of skills used in Crisis Negotiations (and also similar skills used in business negotiations) referred to as "Active Listening Skills" (ALS). It may be helpful to employ these techniques when someone you know is emotionally off-balance and they can sometimes bring a person back to a state of reasoning. Not only can these skills be useful for "crisis" situations, but they are useful skills to develop in your everyday life and/or for forum usage. I've attended two different Crisis Negotiation schools, one put on by the FBI and one put on by a local police department based on the FBI's training and I found these skills to be very useful and practical. However, like most skills, they need development and they can be perishable.

Here is a VERY brief summary of concept of Active Listening Skills;

http://www.taftcollege.edu/lrc/class/assignments/actlisten.html

It seems to be pretty difficult to find a fuller explanation of ALS on the internet, particular in the form that Crisis Negotiators use it. Book form provides a more comprehensive guide.

Additionally, a man named Marshall Rosenberg wrote about Non-Violent Communication (NVC);

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonviolent_Communication

Based on my understanding, I find NVC is very much in line with Right Speech and provides a nuts and bolts approach to this communication form.

But, it is important to note what has been mentioned above, you may not be the right fix for a given person. Some people are beyond lay help in their issues. I agree with your desire to be compassionate, but for most of us, there has to be a point at which we determine we cannot be of help to a person and that we cannot let them damage us. Some people need more professional help, and they have to either be willing to do it, or be made to do it depending on how harmful their emotional difficulties are.

I hope this is useful.
“What we think, we become.“ - The Buddha
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Re: How do you deal with emotionally needy people?

Postby Zenainder » Thu Jun 20, 2013 8:00 pm

catlady2112 wrote:Everyone goes through hard times, and I try to help friends when things happens, but recently I have woken up to the fact that there are people in my life who talk endlessly about their problems and don't seem to want to take actions or suggestions. I find this type of interaction exhausting and fruitless.

I am not skilled like the Buddha in using my speech to help people like this.

I can't find any sutta's that talk about this kind of challenge in dealing with this kind of person.

Any tips?


Never mind your conditioned thoughts, sit and listen. ;)

Be present for your friend and be mindful of YOUR conditioned thoughts as well. It may not be your friend that is exhausting, it could be a certain internal view affecting your disposition. Be mindful and be a friend. Continue in your meritious work of being present for your friend.

Many years ago I had a friend that fretted and fretted. She ate, live, and slept and made other worry warts look tranquil. One day amongst her unecessary worrying I calmly looked at her and asked her a question:
"I've known you for many years and every single situation in your life has worked out in some way. And every time a variable in your life arises you fret it, regardless of things cyclically working out for you, why?"
[Blank stare and a nod with admitted shame]
"Has your fretting gained you anything? An hour? Or minute? Has it ended anything sooner or later?"
["No"]
"You're a woman of faith, breath out your prayers and be at peace. It will work out, as it always does. The stress you're enduring is not worth time you're losing and unnecessary. Besides, peace is more fun."

Despite my good timing, the little impact that conversation had was swallowed later by a worry that arose the following day. As you cling to what you cling to, so do others each to their own measure of ignorance. Best we can do is our own effort and be at peace with ourselves and others. The glimpses of time that we have with others that results in meaningful inspiration are tiny windows. Selfless love shrugs at the discrepancies of our former ideals.

Most of the time suffering beings find temporary alleviation in a listening ear and a warm hug.
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Re: How do you deal with emotionally needy people?

Postby binocular » Fri Jun 21, 2013 8:34 am

Another suggestion: read up on "idiot compassion."
Plenty of resources on that on the web, from various perspectives.
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