The Impact of Other People’s Pain On Me While Going Above And Beyond To Help
There are usually a lot of general literature I read that state for a person with my type of personality I often attract people who desperately need help where I would then essentially make their problems my own. The theory goes along the lines of while it seems like a noble deed where you as the distressed is getting assistance, on the flipside a person like me gets so emotionally invested in it that the harm it does to me outweighs the benefit of the deed that was given.
The theory is like saying if are sick with the flu where my assistance helped you to get rid of it that’s great for you. However, this means during this time I have contracted the flu from you where I will have to essentially go through the same agonizing pain that you are except in my case there is no one to help me get through it now. In my view, this isn’t entirely accurate. I would view it more like my body has already developed the antibodies for the flu as I have been through it already.
Therefore, the “pain” I feel is more about the pain you are going through per se as it reminds me of how I felt in that situation due to sensitivity as opposed to the virus itself. I would say most people usually only feel this “pain” when it comes to bigger items such as if you had a loved one pass away due to a tragic car accident. Then maybe every time you see a car now it makes you relive that pain. Due to sensitivity, I just kind of experience that even for common things when I see others in trouble. Afterwards, the “exhaustion” would come from doing whatever it took to help you get better. I have a real life example that I thought would be interesting to help enlighten this topic further.
There was a time I was working at a retail job where the company actually kept track of sales numbers that employees generated as a way to determine productivity. Fortunately for me, I was passionate about the stuff I got to sell which ultimately resulted in me consistently being a top performer. The management was fantastic too as they recognized and nurtured my efforts and contribution.
As time went on the management was changed due to people getting promoted or moving to different areas. So, I had new superiors to answer to as well. I would often get asked to move up to more “lucrative” departments too where on paper if I was producing great numbers for a less profitable department then technically it should mean if I was placed in a higher profit zone that the company would make more money. However, I told them I didn’t really want that as I had no passion for those products.
Now because of this they tried to find people to move up and they chose this one person who had been working with me that does decent sales. From personal experience, I knew that he often misled about stuff to get his way. However, to the new management this was overlooked because his sales number was pretty decent and I guess you can say that is what mattered to them. I would bring up my concerns at times too where for the most part I would get a “Don’t worry, we’ll look into it.”
To me anyways, the translation to that is they were doing nothing as this new manager took a shine to him and was in a sense protecting him. In many ways I get it as they probably get scolded by the head office if the store numbers are low which pressures them to want people who can bring in the numbers.
Eventually, he got moved into one of the more lucrative departments and so it wasn’t really any of my concern anymore. What happened soon after was kind of shocking though. Another employee then comes up to me with a fairly sad demeanor. She was telling me how now that this guy was in the same department as her she notices that he has been doing things such as stealing.
I was leaning towards the side of believing her because those actions would kind of fall in-line with what I noticed about him in my department. She then also said that whenever a customer would come up to ask about signing up for a service he would essentially muscle his way to set her aside so that he can get the potential sale. Since they are behind like a counter she was telling me how he would literally kick her in the leg to back off. To me this was really crazy.
I then asked if she told the department manager about it as that is kind of serious. However, she was too afraid to tell anyone because she felt the management saw him as a darling where no one would believe her. She then expressed how she knows he worked with me before where she trusts me and felt that I would be the only one who would believe her as I must of saw similar things. I told her I would personally tell the manager myself.
Usually at times like these my mind instantly connects with my personal life experiences that I feel are reminiscent to the situation. This may be a little harsh, but the note of the physical hit and being scared to say anything reminded me of how when I was a child one of my teachers at a class actually took a whack at me because I simply couldn’t write a word in specific pattern that she desired. It was in a foreign language that I was not used to writing where it was simply more natural for me to write the way I was taught for my native language. Like at that moment, I was too scared to tell anyone about it and pretty much cried to myself. I mean who are people going to believe? The adult or the kid? And why would anyone do anything about it? I’m just a kid after all.
Not even my parents knew. Interestingly enough, that teacher actually phoned my home that same day to ask my parents how I was as if it was like a friendly chat and apparently asked if I talked about my day. My parents thought that was odd but didn’t think much of it other than the teacher was so kind and thoughtful. As mentioned, I never mentioned anything about it.
What eventually happened is that one day in another class with a different teacher I made a simple error on a class assignment. Based on that past experience I thought she was going to like yell at me or something. However, this teacher was very nice in pointing it out. For some reason I just blurted out to her “At least you don’t hit me.” I remember her doing a double take when I said that as she called me back to ask what I meant by that. I then explained how the other teacher had hit me. With that knowledge, she arranged for me to talk to the school principal about it and everything was let out where the teacher was disciplined and all.
This experience definitely stuck to my mind where it taught me how there are people out there that will help you and it only takes one. If I never found that help I can easily see myself continuing to live very scared or depressed. So when I encounter someone with an experience that triggers that same type of emotions that I felt when I was feeling hurt and helpless I just remember how it only takes one person to change all that. This might be a lot to take in, but that’s what literally darts through my head in like a millisecond where I don’t really want others to feel that way and so if I can help I will. (Lesson for all you teachers out there on how much your simple actions can have a big impact on how someone grows up)
With this motivation I did bring it up to the manager and for the most part again it felt like she had a very dismissal attitude about it. I obviously can’t say the abuse or theft happened for sure since I didn’t see anything, but I reminded this manger that it kind of fits in with the stuff I was warning them about when the guy was working with me. Especially with an accusation that was brought up now of physical abuse in my mind it should be taken very seriously. As days passed, again it seemed like nothing was being done and the girl would again come up to me about the apparent theft and abuse. The thought of how she must have been feeling was bothering me each day. It just makes me think of my own life experience.
What happened after was a little too coincidental too I felt. This manager calls me in the office to have a talk. She then breaks the news to me that apparently over half the people in my department was complaining about me. In my mind that was like impossible and I specifically asked for names as I was close with virtually everyone and only knew of one person who I never really got along with who always complained about me. She refused to give names though and simply implied that I had to essentially fix my attitude or face the consequences so to speak. The way she smirked about it too gave me a “she is up to no good” feeling about it.
Believing this was completely fabricated, I actually went up to everyone in the department and asked them personally. Funny enough, they told me what had happened where that one person who I never got along with was asking people if they in a sense hated me so that she could make a formal complaint about me on behalf of the department. They even mentioned that they simply said no as they had no problems with me. With this revelation I went back to the manager with the facts and her reaction was now in an embarrassed tone of “Oh, okay…..I’ll have a talk with her.”
It didn’t stop there though. When it came time to giving a performance review she started to evaluate me with pretty low scores compared to past managers. It was very ridiculous where one clear example was there was a category for “product knowledge” where I was virtually like the encyclopedia for the store yet I wasn’t evaluated as such. So in my mind, this all led me to believe that she had it out for me because in a sense I posed a threat to the other guy where if he had to be fired then obviously the store loses major income. I didn’t want to give up though knowing that the pain the girl was going through was probably similar to what I experienced as a child. Even if this meant jeopardizing my own well-being.
Not knowing what to do, I looked up the list of contacts for the company and found the e-mail of my old manager who now worked in the corporate office. It was a pretty quick message where I asked if he remembered me and how I have some concerns about some of the ethics that were going on in the store now and if he had any advice. Without hesitation it seems he e-mailed me back saying he will come visit and we will talk.
During our meeting I told him about the whole ordeal such as the girl coming up to me claiming she was being physically harmed and this new manager not doing anything about it while seeming like she was undermining me. Overall, he did mention it was concerning and that he would pass this on to the human resource department. Obviously he can’t do anything directly.
It made me so upset though that this situation overall felt so wrong morally. That’s when in my mind I decided to do something where for sure this company would have to listen to me. There was a huge product that was being launched worldwide where it just happened to be related to the department I was in. While I was always motivated in doing the best I can, this situation motivated me more to do even better. Because the only way to get people to listen and take you seriously here is with the numbers right?
I went above and beyond the call of duty to strategize and plan what would be the best way to increase the customer experience to ultimately create more sales. During my off hours, I did things such as creating some simple bundle packages based on what the company was advertising in its upcoming flyer. As well, with my novice Photoshop skills I even created some simple signage displays to be placed at the counters to advertise these self-created bundles. In my mind, no manager was going to question my decision in this as I knew that the whole store staff knew that I was the go-to guy for the department. I got the photo department to print out the displays, talked to the team about the plan and the store opened.
Without exaggeration, it was a resounding success. People were buying the bundles and all the staff felt happy that they were making sales too as people were just going up to them in a “I’ll buy that” approach. It didn’t require any knowledge to sell the products as I essentially did the work for them. We all have access to computer terminals too where we can see in real-time how stores throughout the country were preforming on this big day. We were literally the number one store in the entire country by a longshot. We even got phone calls from supervisors in other stores asking us what the heck we were doing. I was so happy as in many ways I felt very vindicated from the manager trying to downplay my knowledge and contribution. I still have the sales number paper report to this date. More importantly, if it’s all about the numbers then they’ll have to listen to me now.
As I arrived to work the next day the same manager comes up to me with a smiling face to say what a great job I did. I could easily see right through her again as is it looked so forced. I was wondering why at first and then noticed that an executive from the head office walked through the door to congratulate me on the success. “So that’s why” is what came to my mind. But, I took the congratulations gracefully and all.
More importantly, I wanted the concerns that the girl brought up to me to be investigated seriously. Interestingly enough, it seemed like now a human resource person was brought to the store fairly promptly after all this. I discussed about my concerns and a meeting was arranged between myself and this manager. I pretty much brought everything out and how reports of a person essentially getting abused wasn’t being taken seriously.
After all this I actually took some time off and decided to use my vacation pay. I hadn’t taken a day off ever since I started working there. An example too of how I know my limits where when I am drained I need to rejuvenate. Lo and behold. While I was taking my time off apparently that guy was fired. Not because of the concerns of the person getting physically abused though. Instead, what apparently happened was there was an undercover operation of sorts which exposed that the guy was willingly helping a person open up fraudulent accounts where in exchange he would get compensation for it. While I can’t say for sure my efforts were a direct result of this, I know it had to be a factor due to the timing.
Of course the celebration isn’t that he got fired as that is not exactly something to cheer about. Instead, my hope was the girl can now live without fear that no one believed her where she would have to live the rest of her life with this shame that she shouldn’t have to feel. Cause like here, it at least proved for sure he was stealing. At the same time, she knows she had support from day one and that in the future it is okay to let others know. Because my hope she would kind of experience what I did where there will always be that one person who can help you. So don’t lose hope.
I did end up leaving the company shortly after too if you are all wondering as I didn’t feel this new management’s values would ever change where I simply didn’t want to be associated with it. But like in this situation was it emotionally draining where I was feeling the girl’s pain and isolation? Indeed. Did I get myself too involved in another person’s debacle? Maybe. Was it the right thing to do? Yes. Does that mean I should stop helping people in need? No.
Most people probably would have stopped once they reported it and then said that’s all they can do as they can’t jeopardize their own well-being as an example to save another. That is perfectly fine in many ways as I understand we are all built differently. I could easily see someone just breaking down with an obstacle like this as an example because their life experience are completely different where they haven’t been trained to handle it per se. Is it tiring to run a mile? Well, yes. Is there a difference between a person that walks everyday versus someone who takes the car all the time only to then try to walk for a mile? I would assume yes.
That’s the thing to keep in mind. A person like me spends a lot of time analyzing and understanding emotions where it`s almost no different than an athlete going to the gym each and every day for physical strength and endurance. Except in this case it`s mental strength and calmness. Yes, it can be exhausting, it can hurt and so forth. But we train for that. It`s just that some people take on more than they can chew.
Like everyone I have my limits. But for a person like me, my personality was essentially developed through my experiences. To me, it’s almost more painful if I didn’t do anything. This is why too like for this girl I didn’t express how it pains me while immediately saying how it makes me feel. Because it’s natural for you to then say “No, please don’t if it hurts you” correct? For myself anyways, I believe I have experienced enough to be able to do it where I understand my limits. Yes, lifting that 200 pound “rock” that just fell on your back is probably going to “hurt” me to get it off you. But for the most part I believe I am strong enough to do so and the thought of just leaving you there is worst. There may be times where I bite off more than I can chew, but that’s life.
If anything, don’t think of other people’s pain where it affects me like a virus where I have no control. But rather, think of it like I am a tree and the person’s pain is carbon dioxide where I found ways to turn it into oxygen. If you think about it, we all breathe in carbon dioxide on a daily basis right? It’s just for me with like the tree example my own process allows me to handle more while being able to turn it into something more desirable.
The real danger here with like the tree example is like if my soil starts to go bad. Then I am in trouble. Think of the soil going bad where it’s like in my life I just lost my home due to a natural disaster or I literally just lost all of the close people in my life for some reason. Like there, if the basic foundation of my life isn’t stable then I simply won’t have the strength to give.
So if you know someone in your life that has a personality like this don’t focus so much on whether or not they have any fuel left in the tank or can take the punches to help others. Try to understand that their life experiences compels them in a way while giving them the unusual strength to be that helping hand. Like with the tree and soil example too, if you are concerned about their well-being just try and make sure the soil is taken care of. Then you will have a healthy and giving tree for years to come.
For those that need a more visual representation, I saw a video earlier this year that kind of hits the right notes I feel about the urge to help if you can. Imagine you being like the taxi driver here regardless of how stressful or emotionally draining the situation may be for you. This video is partly staged just for the record, but hopefully it gets the point across.