I started asking myself this question after a lady I was helping at work told me she wanted sympathy for what happened to her. With the way she acting and her reasons for wanting sympathy, I didn’t want to give it to her. Sympathy is the kind of thing that is given when you honestly feel sorry for someone and that person honestly feels something related to what happened to them.
I am a sympathetic person. There was a time when a lady explained to me the entire story of why she was experiencing PTSD in that moment and how she developed it. Her reason for explaining it to me was to get some kind for compensation for what she experienced during her stay at the hotel where I work. Regardless of her reason, I could tell she was genuine and honest with her story. When she told me how she developed PTSD, I showed her sympathy because she wasn’t using her story to get something from me for it. She was technically blaming the hotel.
She didn’t get compensation but she also didn’t force me to show her sympathy like the other lady. Her experience during her stay was related to her mental health and not the hotel.
What Is Sympathy
According to the Google dictionary, sympathy means feeling pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune. It can also mean an understanding between people related to feelings. This is why I felt sympathy for the lady with PTSD. What happened to her was related to what happened to me one time. We shared a fear in common from it.
The reason I didn’t show sympathy to the other lady wasn’t because I didn’t share anything in common or relate to her story. It was the way she was asking for it. She was using what happened to get something rather than actually wanting real sympathy.
In short, the lady’s drunk boyfriend got abusive when he returned to their hotel room. I know that people react to situations like this differently. I can understand responding with anger as a way of dealing after just experiencing that. Her anger at me wasn’t about that at all though. She was angry about paying for a hotel room she wasn’t able to use because her boyfriends behavior and abusiveness towards her got them both kicked out of the hotel.
When my manager said he couldn’t refund her money, she got more upset. She said she wanted sympathy for what happened to her and felt like she wasn’t getting that because my manager wouldn’t refund her money.
After she asked for sympathy, I still didn’t show it to her. I couldn’t get myself to. She wasn’t behaving like someone who felt bad themselves for what happened. She didn’t seem to care. In that moment, she cared more about her money and getting kicked out of the hotel.
Her asking for sympathy came across as wanting attention. She wanted it to be all about her because her boyfriend abusive. She felt like she deserved attention and should get special treatment for it. Just because something terrible happens to you doesn’t mean you should be the Center of attention for it or should be treated differently.
In my experience, people who have gone through something terrible don’t go around telling people it for attention. They usually don’t want sympathy for it. I am open about what I have been through only because I have accepted it and have accepted how it has affected who I am. I don’t ask or want sympathy in return like this lady did.
This was the first time I have had anyone ask for sympathy for what happened to them. This situation bothered me a lot. I wanted to tell her if she wanted sympathy, she was going about it the wrong way. I wanted to tell her shouldn’t be forcing people to show it and using what happened to gain something in return. If she would have behaved differently, I would have responded in the way she wanted.
I could be wrong and it was just how she normally reacts in situations like that. She might not have accepted what happened yet either. Maybe it is a normal reaction for other people to ask for sympathy in that way. If it is, that’s okay. Sometimes it is what we need.
Do you think her response was normal? Do you think it is okay to ask for sympathy?