I was considering whether to post this or not but given it’s been really on my mind I’ve decided I will with the following apology.  If anyone reads this and identifies with it at all I only write it here as something I observed and my reaction to it.

I was at a meeting a little while ago.  Usual preamble, appropriate reading etc. and then meeting opened to people to share, there was no speaker.  First person to share essentially went into a moan about how they are fed up going to meetings where people cross share with them.  Guess what happened?  Almost everyone who shared throughout the rest of the meeting cross shared with the first person saying how they had had previous similar experience.  Some even giving advice on how to deal with it.

I was sat there thinking – Didn’t anyone listen.  This person said they most definitely and completely did not want people to cross share or offer them advice on any topic…

I can’t deny some of what people were saying was well meant it was trying to help that person and others readily sharing a similar concern that there was experience in the room that had experienced and dealt with it.  But there was another part of me that wanted to cross share across them all that they were doing exactly what the first person requested they did not do!

I titled this “Sheep” as it made me wonder if most people in that meeting who shared just followed the masses.  As the Cambridge English Dictionary says…

“If a ​group of ​people are (like) sheep, they all ​behave in the same way or all ​behave as they are told, and cannot or will not ​act ​independently.”

Apart from the one person who started this theme I highly doubt others entered that room intending to raise it.

I have looked hard at myself about this since it happened.  It is one of the very few times I’ve ever left a room without feeling buoyed up my experience in it.  I was being judgemental.  It wasn’t my place to criticise what anyone shared or how they shared it.  It was in essence everybody else’s stuff not mine at all.  I readily acknowledge all that and see it as an area I need to work on if I ever have a similar experience.  However the one thing I’ve failed to shake off was this sadness about the the “flock of sheep” thing.  One thing my recovery programme has given me is freedom.  Freedom to think for myself about myself and understand that no-one can ever deny my internal feeling about myself. It is irrefutable.  Through that understanding I can be open to emotions and appreciate them and why I’m getting them, even to the point of realising “I feel x whenever y happens” and then to unpick Y and why it affects me and how I can work on my emotional response to it if I find the X not good for my physical, emotional or spiritual well being.  So part of my being so much a part of the recovery community I am means I actually have greater autonomy of thought and opinion and voice.  I just felt very sad that I didn’t experience that in many of the people in that room that day.

About furtheron

Music and guitar obsessive who is a recovering alcoholic to boot
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6 Responses to Sheep

  1. This is crazy… something very similar just happened to me last week! And I shared with a friend the same thing… this might be one of the very few times I left a meeting feeling worse than when I entered it. Mine was a slightly different set of circumstances, but at the end of the day I needed to self-analyze exactly as you did. And I will remain forever grateful to our fellowship for giving me the tools to do so.

    Great read as I am heading off to the Monday meeting I chair, I am reminded to bring to it, rather than demand from it 🙂

  2. JJ says:

    This ties in with thoughts I was reading in a book about how we rarely ACTUALLY listen to what other people say, but are just waiting to put in our two cents worth. It’s all about how we want to tell how we experience the same thing, about us, about how we feel, rather than listening to what the person said and their feelings.

    It’s like people who aren’t listening to you and finish your sentences but they aren’t finishing them the way you were going. You wonder what’s the point of talking at all. Basically, the only thing you can do is change what you do, listen carefully to people yourself and give them the respect and consideration to listen. Tune in, actually listen. Make that one person feel that you listened to them, look them in the eye, hear what they are saying.

  3. I’m not sure what to add here without sounding like I’m cross sharing 😉

    My therapist would call this “group think”. I think it’s good when people are relating to each other, but, yeah, unsolicited advice receiving and not being heard aren’t fun to experience.

    I like that your takeaway was to look at why the meeting troubled you. Perhaps it was a good meeting after all. And thanks for the reminder to look at myself when those kinds of feelings come up.

  4. Phoenix @ says:

    I understand what you mean. It’s the misery loves company effect. Sometimes listeners don’t really listen, but wait their turn to talk, believing that they are indeed expressing understanding and empathy. Sometimes people just want to be heard. I hope the first person to share found some sense of comfort somehow.
    I understand your sadness about wanting others to experience the freedom you have in your recovery. They will in time, or maybe not, and that’s okay too. Thank you for being so honest about all of this. It is a good reminder for me to be more generous with myself in terms of truly listening. Hugs.

  5. I have been to a meeting where I left feeling uninspired.
    Then I too had to think about how I was judging.
    I need to remember not to be too silly in my meetings, as I can get nervous sometimes!

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