When Someone Is Afraid Of You, You Don’t Have To Be Afraid Of Them. Just Be.

Self-Care Tip #131 – When someone transfers negativity on you, just be.  Be a friend to yourself.

Reading up on the woe’s of Harry Potter, Sam did not let his children near those books.  He’d read “what they say” which shows that when kids read books like Harry Potter, it was the same as inviting the devil into their minds.  “Kids can’t tell the difference between fantasy and truth,” he said.

Sam had a friend.  A best friend named Matthew.  Sam was very afraid for Matthew who didn’t guard against this kind of attack.  Sam said, “Did you know…?”

What was Matthew’s response?

There are 2 terms we’ve used in psychotherapy since before Freud and Jung were around –

  • transference – putting our feelings on the therapist.  For example, say my therapist is a man who looks like my father.  I will transfer on him my feelings about my father and subconsciously think my therapist is like my father.
  • countertransference is the opposite.  The therapist thrusts her own memories and associations on her patient.

These can be positive or negative.  Of course they don’t stay on the couch.  Transference and Countertransference happen between all of us all the time.  Often it is healthy.  It helps us grow, model others, fantasize and move towards fantasy’s long enough to make them true.

In Sam and Matthew’s case, Sam was transferring his fears of immorality on Matthew.  But what was Matthew’s reaction?  What was Matthew’s countertransference?

I have often been guilty of negative countertransference in situations like this.  I remember feeling dirtied by people’s prejudices and fears.  Almost like I needed to bathe afterwards.  The truth is though, we don’t have to.  When people are afraid of us, we don’t have to be afraid of them.  We don’t have to despise them.  We don’t have to be angry, irritated, or feel “soiled.”   We can just be with them.  Let it be about them and not run away.  Just be present.

Matthew, wonderful best friend Matthew had heard this song from Sam before.  When Sam started in on it again this time, Matthew was able to sit back, listen to his fear rather than worry about what words shuttled it.  And Matthew was better for it.  Maybe Sam was too.  But the gift Matthew gave was first to himself.  By just being with Sam in his fear, he was able to just be with himself too.  Quite friendly.

Question:  How has transference and countertransference played out in your life?  How do you, “just be,” when you are inclined to “countertransfer” instead?  Please tell me your story.

4 thoughts on “When Someone Is Afraid Of You, You Don’t Have To Be Afraid Of Them. Just Be.

  1. In my reply to the last blog, I wrote about becoming co-dependent on a pastoral counselor who immediately, when I admitted it, dropped me as a client. Having read this blog, I realize the word I was looking for was “transferrance”, not co-dependence. She “became” my mother…or the mother I thought I needed. Her action – or reaction – caused me to go through many more years of therapy than I think I would have needed had she not treated me as she did. It’s been ten years, and it still hurts, even though I now understand that her own fear may have been her reason for ending our sessions together. Now my greatest fear is that one day I will transfer again, so getting close to anyone is something I find impossible – and terrifying – to do. Trust and fear are serious issues even for those of us who, according to most, have healed. Do we ever heal enough?

    • ah! that makes sense now nancy. transference and countertransference in action. good call. i didn’t catch it, u did. nicely done. that insight is a tool for self-care. u have tools. good. i don’t know if we ever heal “enough” in this world. what is enough? enough to be loved and give love? if that’s your question, than my opinion is yes. keep on fierce woman.

  2. I really like this post… And needed to read it. Sometimes it feels like any negativity dirties me up forever. I have a really difficult time dealing with any of the more negative emotions—whether feeling them inside of myself, or feeling them in or from others. I am not sure how to “just be” with respect to those emotions…it always feels like anger whittles away my soul. Any ideas for coping through the times when we get really angry?

    • hey stranger!!! so great to connect w u. thanks very much for reading and commenting. u have a wonderful voice. i know what u r talking about all too well. taking care of ourselves requires awareness 1st off. Awareness is sort of like “I love you’s.” When our spouse says them to us, we might need to hear it again 5 minutes later. There are no available stock options. If the love doesn’t keep coming, than problems start. Same with awareness. We restore our own awareness how best we can, over and over again. It slips and when new feelings come up, may seem like it never happened. One step of coping to answer you, I think must be that regenerating, repeating, purposeful process of awareness. From there, come other bits of coping but w/o awareness, hmm. not much is going to happen.
      to put a question to your expertise, please explain to me the difference between than and then in my posts!!! i’m struggling and can’t stand my ignorance! 🙂 u rocketh in this category as i remember!

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