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  • Resilient Practice

Soul Theft

“Don’t be afraid to steal, just steal the right stuff”

Mike Monteiro


Do you take from others without asking permission?


The answer is probably no – well at least not consciously.


When we approach another person for interaction, we are seeking a response. The response that we are looking for will vary. We might be passing on a piece of information and need to know that we have been understood. We might be asking for a favour and waiting to see whether it will be granted. We might be looking for the other person to engage with us emotionally, to empathise with us or to offer us advice. We might even be hoping that we can offer advice ourselves and know that we have been heard and that the person intends to act on it. Whatever our intention – we are seeking something from another person when we interact.


What about when we are looking for emotional sustenance? This applies when we are seeking affirmation of our suffering. When we have lost a beloved pet or have been the victim of some kind of injustice. Often, we perceive that in telling our horror story we can gain some kind of comfort from how it affects the recipient. Sometimes we even seek to ‘shock’ them with the gravity of it. The stronger their reaction to it, the more aggrieved and also validated we feel. This does not always serve us well. We are the victim when at first the event takes place, but if we choose to perpetuate that status further by continuing to revel in the story – we stay exactly where we are - in our suffering - and do not move forward. There is an additional problem here in that we are often so consumed by our own experience that we have not considered the effect that our behaviour has on the other person. By expecting someone to respond to us with emotion, we are imposing demands upon them, that they feel our pain. We are expecting them to engage in empathy – but we have not asked for permission.


This is trespassing upon the psyche of others.


This is Soul Theft.


On reading this, most of us would be provoked into wondering - have I ever done that? The answer is probably - yes. The likelihood is that we have done it without thinking. We have behaved in a ‘knee jerk’ automatic way when we were wounded so as to seek comfort. We all can afford to be compassionate towards the Self here. It is totally understandable. However, none of us can know what is going on for someone else. Hearing an awfully sad story or listening to us vent our anger in an unsolicited way might be the very last thing that someone needs. Whilst sharing our experiences in a therapeutic setting or with a carefully chosen pair of ears might be exactly the right thing for us and the ears may be graciously given, defaulting to sharing every negative event with anyone who will listen can have far reaching consequences that we may not have considered.


By constantly sharing we are also reliving the experience over and over and allowing it to become magnified by the reaping of empathic responses from others. This is harmful in terms of body chemistry and will inhibit our ability to process the event.


We can also be mindful that constant sharing of our pain to anyone who will listen will lead to it becoming white noise – and that when we really need to share – the message will go unnoticed. We may even be seen as draining or complaining by our peers and they might actively avoid our company.


When we are sad, angry or aggrieved, we can share with the right people – those with whom we have an unspoken contract where permission is already a given and we can provide that sustenance ourselves.


When we explore the wide-ranging effects of putting our pain out into the world, with a little conscious choice we can learn how to resist the need default to taking from others whilst seeking to provide that which we need for ourselves.


Try this:

Can you mitigate Soul Theft?

Set the intention to bring into your consciousness those times when you seek comfort from outside sources by sharing your misfortune.

Do this by stepping into the shoes of your Observer Self – the part of you that is able to notice your thoughts, feelings and behaviours but does not do the thinking, feeling and doing.

When you feel the need to share your negative experiences with others unsolicited and without permission, press pause.

Ask yourself the following questions:

Who is my audience?

Do I have permission to inflict my misfortune upon them?

Do I have permission to engage them in an emotional conversation?

Am I imposing an obligation on them to respond?

Do I really need to share it with them?

Do they really need to hear it?

If so what is the potential price

  1. In terms of their wellbeing?

  2. In terms of my wellbeing?

What can be gained by passing this on?

What is it that I am seeking here?

Is this something that I can seek from a carefully chosen person in a more conscious way?

Is this something that I can provide for myself?


Look at your responses to these questions.

What do they tell you?

Can you release the need to default to unsolicited sharing?

Can you provide for yourself what you gain from sharing with others?

Can you be more discerning with who you share your information with so as to limit your incidences of Soul Theft?

Now go on and consciously choose whether to share or not.


For more insights and a host of tools and techniques for exploring the Self and improving your human experience see our book:

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