I know that I am pretentious and preachy. I think a lot of things about a lot of things and it feels urgent and necessary to share those things.
Like going on and on about my problems with positive psychology to a co-worker, E, who is worried that the lesions on her brain is cancer.
E, I and a third person were talking about E's health problems and the third person was upbraiding E for saying that her brain was rotting. 3 went to tell the story of her brother who had recovered from cancer after he was given 6 months to live. At the death sentence, the brother took up yoga, mediation, stopped doing drugs, etc, 3 figured he had basically cured himself.
I hate that stuff. It's not that I don't think that the way we live and think effects our health. It's the other side of the coin that bothers me: if you don't manage to maintain a positive attitude, keep your brave face on, keep the downward facing dogs coming then you didn't try hard enough and you killed yourself. There is enough victim blaming to go around.
Also, who does the cheery attitude benefit most? The cheery person who still has to face her fears when she is alone or the people around her who has to face their own mortality when the cheery person is sad and afraid? It sure is nicer for the rest of us if E doesn't keep bringing up her rotting brain.
So, instead of being empathic and listen, I told E all my brilliant conclusions. At length.
3 offered something concrete in terms of hope, motivation, actions that E could take. I just offered a bunch of pseudo intellectual BS that centered around me.
I like E a lot. I wish I was a better friend. Or perhaps I just wish she'd like me more and invite me into her life. I guess those are not mutually exclusive; if I were a better friend then maybe she accept me offers of help.
What I really wanted to tell E was that it's ok to be angry with your body, it's ok to grieve and be scared, and that I don't mind her talking about it. I'd considered saying something about the rotting brain thing, but decided not to for that reason. While urgently wanting to share my astounding wisdom I was also hoping to entertain and distract.
It's not like you get a chance to do it over when people are ill. You can't tell yourself you'll do it better with your next terminally ill friend.