Self-Compassion is helpful for many things, but people seem to appreciate it the most when they can use it to manage something on the outside, but want to leave no trace of it. One such example is the office or school clinger. You know the people I am talking about. They find a way to be part of your every conversation, and even as you leave very unsubtle hints about needing to get to work or even to use the bathroom, somehow they find a way to include themselves. Let’s look at some examples.
Example Of Clingers’ Behaviors
“I will see you later Mike, I am off to use the bathroom.” “Funny you bring that up, I totally have to go to.” Then, this person follows you to the bathroom or suggests that you meet up afterwards. “Sorry, Jen, I have to go do some work now.” “I have been so unmotivated today. Work can be so boring. You know what we should do? We should work together!” You slowly die inside.
“Alright Andre, I have to get home to my girl.” “Yeah, I need to get on that. Does she have any friends? I wonder why I can’t find a girl. You want to get a coffee real quick before you go?” This is my all time favorite. “Sorry, I wish I could talk, but I have all this work to do.” “Oh, I don’t mind.” Magically, they have ignored your wishes, and continue to talk to you.
Compassion For Clingers
Having compassion for the clinger can sometimes be difficult because it feels very much like they are actively ignoring our needs. They seem to suck all of the energy out of us without so much as a thank you. The truth is that they tend to be very lonely, anxious people. So, they work extra hard to keep conversations going. They do not want to be abandoned, even if the separation is brief. Knowing this can be helpful in informing how we respond to them.
First, acknowledge how much you would like to spend time with them. This will turn down the volume on their fear of losing connection with you. Second, acknowledge your own limitations. For example, that you are unable to work with others because you are so easily distracted, but wish you could be. This will make it easier for them to find another activity to do because you will have articulated how it has nothing to do with them, and is, in fact, related to one of your limitations. This will activate their compassion to you, and make their compassion to themselves more available. Third, find a way to leave. That is right. Rip that band-aid off. If you stay, it just makes it more difficult for this person to manage the transition.
Self-Compassion For Clingers
Now, on to your self-compassion. When these behaviors start, notice how you feel. It is likely that you feel anxious or stressed. Do not shove these feelings down, instead let them pass, let your breath out, and slowly soften around the tense areas of your body. Remind yourself that you are not a master of managing clingers, but that you are working on this skill, so anything you do will help you get better. Disengaging from outcome-based judgment will allow you the freedom to make mistakes, and thus progress faster.
Use the aforementioned steps to disengage from the situation, while wishing yourself and the other person well-being, safety, and ease. Remind yourself that giving the clinger what they want will make you resentful, and will strengthen behaviors that are presently hurting their other relationships. Finally, give yourself permission to be kind to yourself, while transitioning and after transitioning to a new environment. It is a lot healthier than gossiping about the clinger, and will reduce rather than build up your anxiety about running into them again.
We have all stuck around a conversation too long or been a little clingy. It is human nature. Forgive yourself and others for this. We come by this behavior naturally, as do they. People cling to you because you are a treat to be around. Acknowledge this, and use your powers for good. Finally, take the time to call one of your parents, and thank them for tolerating your constant clinging as a child. They will probably laugh, and tell you how much they love you, and this will enhance your ability to be compassionate to your own clinginess and the clinginess of others.
365 Days Of Self-Compassion. Day 154. In The Books.