April 13, 2013 by lucieromarin
So, having established that the essence of brooding is not just the sitting upon something for a long time, but the sitting on something for a long time in expectation of some kind of happy result of that sitting, I thought it would be worth emphasising why this distinction can make communication between a non-brooder and a brooder so difficult.
Say you want to help your brooding friend.
You say, “People move on. You have to let go of this and move on with your life.” He hears, “You have to stop hoping for closure.”
So, of course he resists your advice. Put another way, (from the brooder’s viewpoint):
Your friend says, “Brooding is unhealthy. Can’t you let go of this?”
You hear, “I want you never to be happy ever again.” But the person doesn’t mean this; he or she doesn’t realise that you’re expecting the brooding to produce results, so he or she doesn’t realise that you see it as a step on the path to happiness.
It’s also important to realise that not all brooding is entirely self-absorbed. Some of my most committed brooding has been done on behalf of other people who have been hurt. Sometimes, a well-meaning priest would tell me to let go of it all; to me, that sounded like, “Give up your love of justice. Stop caring about your friend’s rights. Let evil win!” and so on. This wasn’t what the poor priest meant at all; but neither of us realised that the refusal to let go was, in part, because I hoped some good might come of it.
What’s the solution? Well, I’ve never tried any of this, but maybe someone else wants to, and can tell us if it works. I’d suggest people eschew such counsel as, “Stop brooding. It’s bad for you,” etc etc, and try something that specifically targets the hope of result, something more along the lines of, “Yes, you totally deserve justice/an apology/happiness. But I think that this isn’t the way you’re going to get it. There are some other options that might work faster and better – why don’t you try those?”
If your friend is a little more quirky, and really has trouble getting it, I’d suggest this:
A: “You know how, in ‘Heroes’, there was that guy called ‘the Puppet Master’, who could make people do his will just by thinking about it?”
A: “Remember how that was fiction?”
A: “Sorry, but you actually can’t bend reality with your mind. That’s what you’re doing. Thinking about everything Mr Bloggs has done wrong can’t actually make him apologise. Something else has to.”
B: “But what? It’s so unfair! He ruined her life!”
A: “I know. And one day God will exact a great and terrible vengeance upon him. And you can’t make that happen by thinking about it. And also, if you don’t make the great and terrible vengeance happen, then, like, you won’t go to hell, so, you know – bonus!”
A: “YOU’RE NOT ONE OF THE X-MEN! That was also fiction!”
B: “Gah! You’re right!”
A: “I mean, wouldn’t it be better for you to become fabulously rich, and then to buy her a castle, so that she spends the rest of her days living amidst romance and grandeur while he’s stuck in his dingy office with no friends?”
B: “You know, that didn’t sound very Christian, either. That actually sounded kind of petty.”
A: “Yeah, well, I’m not a saint any more than you are. The point is that you could doing more productive things to find happiness and closure.”
B: “You know what? You’re right! I mean – not that bit about the castle, but everything else. Thanks!”