Asking Uncomfortable Questions vs. Empathetic Conformity

Updated: Feb 20



We all turn to others at times, and there will be times when others turn to us, to talk through problems, struggles and challenges or to get a sense check on a situation. It is good to open up and share, to be vulnerable, as this allows the brain to process and understand. However pretty much everyone, consciously or not, omits some information so that what is shared, the story told, supports the conclusion they comfortably seek, or more accurately, avoids the conclusion they feel uncomfortable with and would prefer to avoid. This limits the growth out of the state they are in, keeping them tied to the story that they need to move away from. For them to get the kind of growth that helps prevent the same, or similar, situations recurring it is important to understand the aspects of themselves that contributed to the situation, the way they perceived it and why it impacted them the way it did. One of the best ways to do this is to ask better questions. Questions that address the elephant in the room of the subconscious mind. The best people we could seek out are those prepared to challenge us, challenge our version of events, challenge our justification.



Seeking comfort in others who listen and sympathise without challenge, or empathetically conform to what is shared, not only prevents growth but can root us deeper into the situation, the story, and the negative mindset and ways of thinking that have resulted in the reaction we experienced following the event, or events, that are causing us seek comfort. The more frequently that story is told, with the lens that portrays the version of events, with the uncomfortable elements removed, the more it becomes reality to the story teller. Our brains will come up with whatever excuses we need them to in order to justify our stories.

There are times when empathy is beneficial, such as supporting someone grieving or who has recently heard a loved one has been badly hurt, but empathy without challenge for someone who feels wronged, cheated or unjustly treated by someone, an organisation, society or establishment does not serve to help them. By omitting the elements of the events that make us uncomfortable the only place left is that of victim of the event, or the actions of other people involved. In other words, #empatheticconformity, despite being what many believe to be supportive, is unhealthy and unhelpful.

"Empathetic Conformity only serves to justify the version of the events that avoids the deeper truth and prevents a growth mindset"

Life goes on and events happen, those events have an impact and we react. However, we have a choice as to how we react to the things that are said or happen around us. Our reaction to them, and how we allow them to affect us, is a result of the conditioning we have had throughout our lives, the, often subconscious, beliefs we have about ourselves and our pasts, our fears and our emotional triggers. Without addressing these then each time the same, or similar, events occur it will induce the same reaction, the same emotions, and the pattern repeats.

We repeat what we don't repair

Empathetic conformity validates the story teller in the rhetoric they create to protect themself from the uncomfortable emotions or self realisations that they avoid dealing with because that means facing their fears and limiting beliefs which is an uncomfortable place to be.

There are people who are want to grow and those who don't. Challenging those who don't, because they get validation of a secondary gain by living in victim mode, will, most likely, lead them to seek someone else for empathetic comfort. For those who do not want the same pattern repeating, to live in the continuing drama, then asking the uncomfortable questions, challenging why they reacted the way they did, what has caused them to assume intent or reasons behind actions towards them, why they make it personal rather than come from a place of compassion and understand the place where others involved are at, can help them understand themselves at a deeper level, reframe the events and change their relationship to them and the emotional patterns that occur as a result of them. This is helping them to change their mindset and turn the experience into personal growth. It helps develop positive habits and a positive outlook.


One of benefits of working with a good life coach is that they are not afraid to ask the uncomfortable questions, questions that are as uncomfortable to ask as they are to receive. A good life coach will be able to help get the root cause, guide through the uncomfortable times and help you get an understanding of the things that have conditioned you over time, the tools to reframe them so that they no longer control you and tools to recognise when similar emotions arise in future events.

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