As the title reveals, our friend (let’s call her Sandra) is a Poor-Me character.
What is the difference between a personality trait and a character?
A personality trait is something you are born with.
A character is something you develop.
Character development has two dimensions – one is an unconscious development which is derived from: culture, upbringing, imposed beliefs, societal values, religion, circumstances, people you hang around with, teachings you are exposed to, …etc.
The other dimension is conscious development. In this case, you look at a role model or a certain character that you’d like to develop for yourself and you start working on developing it consciously by CHOOSING:
- Specific topics to read about and learn
- Particular people as your network
- Certain activities you participate in, …etc.
Our friend Sandra is a Poor-Me character as I mentioned. When you meet her, this is how she is. You are not sure if such character is unconsciously or consciously developed.
You don’t see Sandra as Poor-Me at the beginning. You see her no different from anyone else. It takes time, more exposure and sometimes a deeper level of relationship before you realize she is a Poor-Me.
Because Sandra seeks attention. It is preciously why you don’t see Sandra as Poor-Me when you first meet her or through casual non-frequent meetings. In seeking attention, Sandra demonstrates a rather pleasant demeanor at first.
But Sandra isn’t just an attention seeker; Sandra needs a constant validation of her worth. We all need validation of our self worth and we tend to exhibit more of such need at a senior age, but for Sandra it is an obsession.
Let’s take a closer look at Sandra. Shall we?
Sandra spends most of her day – when she is around people – creating situations, conversations, maybe even listing things she’s done or accomplished, just so she attracts attention.
She gets so consumed in that, to the extent that she fails to listen to what others are saying, or how she unconsciously responds.
Sometimes Sandra deliberately listens though – just so she can counter the opinions or validate them, depending on which one will get her more engagement.
Sandra tends to be helpful. Helpful people get noticed. But she won’t help unless she announces or declares all the things she helped out in and how painful they were. They need to be painful, because a Poor-Me is a sympathy seeker.
A good way Sandra finds that gets her immediate attention with a very high success rate – is by crying. She sobs and starts playing the Poor-Me symphony like an expert musician who can play his instrument masterfully even with his eyes closed. Sandra would cry for as long as it takes until she feels that her need for attention is satisfied.
A friend of mine had a Sandra friend who got out of a traffic ticket because of mastering her craft of Poor-Me.
Any minor illness or injury becomes a vehicle for gaining sympathy and thus attention. Manipulating others’ emotions through guilt tends to be a very effective strategy and usually a Sandra’s specialty.
So Sandra is a Bit Whiny, what is the Big Deal?
Addicted to attention seeking, if Sandra feels deprived of attention, her mood instantly swings, her eyes widen, her brain gets alerted and she turns into a hunter.
Hunter for What?
Sandra turns into a hunter for someone to hurt her. Yes, (for some Sandra(s) - without realizing it; for others – it is totally planned and very well executed).
Sandra would go around looking for this someone that she can blame, someone she can rise on their shoulders after weighing them down with guilt and victoriously recite her sad story and how awful things happened to her --- Look at Me – Poor Me.
If you happen to be there but somehow you are lucky enough not to fall in trap of wronging her, at this time of need, Sandra would take any gesture, any comment, any remark… anything that comes out of you that she can work with and creates a big drama out of it --- How could you? What did I do to you? --- Sandra runs in refuge to others and in devastation and well-crafted disbelief she narrates how such an awful thing befell her, how you have wronged her. Tears racing down the face, falling generously to wet the shirt, yet behind her ribs, Sandra’s heart is pumping out a sense of relief. Yes! I got my attention. Again for some Sandra(s), they are completely oblivious to what they do. For others though, they take pride in mastering it.
Being around Sandra(s), or being bound by a relationship with Sandra(s), if you are the kind of person who:
- Feels bad if they hurt someone or
- Doesn’t take it well when they are blamed for something they didn’t do, or
- Gets agitated with crying and negativity
You can easily elevate from leading a stressful life-situation to leading a destructive life-situation – an emotionally abusive relationship. People who score high on the scale of compassion, when finally break-up with Sandra – they leap many many miles away. You ask them and they say that their relationship with Sandra has been a series of endless emotional cornering where they are always forced to apologize.
Behind the Tears...
The Other Side of Sandra/(the Coin)
Sandra(s) tend to be surprisingly less sensitive and sometimes even rude to others. Sandra(s) don’t get deeply hurt by other people’s misfortunes.
Despite the fact that Sandra always claims that others’ insensitivity and rudeness hurt her tender and innocent feelings – it is because she is so self-consumed that she doesn’t notice other people’s feelings.
The Sandra-type people usually possess a very active memory as they keep bringing-up old tales of how you and others either wronged them or treated them unfairly, or tricked them into something, or misunderstood their noble intentions.
At the same time, the Sandra(s) cry over others’ inability to forgive their un-intentional very few instances of cruelty, meant-no-bad comments, and innocent shortcomings.
The Hospital Scene
Sandra goes to the hospital to visit a friend who has had a terrible accident that out both her legs and arms in casts.
Sandra walks in; there are a few people/visitors in the room. They are focused on the injured hospitalized friend. She tries to sneak in a comment or two, with no luck.
Sandra takes a step-back and decides to observe. She listens intently. She may feel a mild and temporary sympathy for her injured friend. Her mind is more occupied with how to get the microphone and with it some of the attention. Someone says “phone”…
“My husband is away on this business trip that departed us for months – months that I got tired of counting and this morning as I try to call him, I get no answer.
I thought… Oh my God, maybe he died. Then he sends me text message from a friend’s phone saying that his phone accidentally fell on the ground and got smashed. Can you believe it?
Oh, why God? Why you do this to me? Is it not enough that we are far away from one another, now I need to wait until he buys a new phone to make sure he is fine?
Isn’t it enough that our budget is stretched over running two homes, one for me here and one for him there? Now we need to purchase a new phone too? Why God? When will I get a break?”
Seriously Sandra? Look at your friend on the hospital bed – will you?
Other people’s pain doesn’t touch the Sandra-type people at a deeper level. Sure, they can see it, but they glide over it and get over it pretty quickly. They tend to feel it only when they decide to adopt as their own… Oh, my son had…, my daughter was…, my spouse ….
How Does Sandra Apologize?
“What? No – I didn’t say/do that? Who would I do that? What makes you think I said/did that? I would never. Oh, My God, why doesn’t anyone understand me? Even you? I thought you know me a lot better. If that upset you, why didn’t you tell me? Why create this gap between us? Why did you let it hurt you for so long? Don’t you know this affects our relationship? I would never do that. I care about you so much that I will never goof off without telling you what made me upset? Do you enjoy going away from me or keeping a distance? Why? What did I do to you? I swear I never meant to hurt you. How could you think I meant to? Oh God. I feel so bad. Oh, God – why this always happens to me. Oh, God, this is so …. It is just so…”
Don’t be surprised if you end-up apologizing for Sandra’s hurting you.
Sandra and Future Generations
Sandra-type people raise kids who have a % of Poor-Me. If the kids grow-up to learn that’s the ways people communicate, it is a high %. If they grow-up disliking or hating this style, the % is likely to drop nevertheless it is still there. When those kids grow-up and get married, the likelihood of marrying Sandra-type people is more because they feel familiar.
P.S. The name Sandra is just a name. This is not restricted to females. Maybe the females demonstrate the Poor-Me attitude in tears and crying. Males demonstrate it in constant complaining.
Sandra’s Charm. Does this mean that Sandra-people have no charm?
In fact there are people who like the Sandra(s).
Bill is a gentleman who finds Sandra pretty attractive because he sees her as a feminine – a lady – someone who despite the trend of feminism isn’t shy or afraid to demonstrate her weak side. Bill admires Sandra.
Amber is one fine woman who finds the Sandra-type guy quite appealing. Amber possess a strong character. She feels strong about her opinions. She can comfort and at the same time offer solutions and fixes. Amber likes her solutions and fixes to be appreciated and put to use. She is quite contented with her relationship with the Sandra-type guy.
And many other examples. Sandra(s) aren’t annoying to everyone.
Do bad things happen to Sandra(s) or do they fake it?
Bad things happen to everybody alive in every part of the world. The Poor-Me Sandra(s) look for it and live for it. Every bump in the road, every pinch, every grey cloud seems to go directly and finds Sandra. This is not entirely true because it is Sandra who is always on the look for that grey cloud no matter how sunny it is.
“I can’t believe how sunny it is today. It burnt my face. Can’t I catch a break? Why bad things always happen to me?”
Whether it is a male or female, you can never miss a Sandra. They are always screaming “Poor Me – Why Me – Why Always Me?” in so many different words.
Sandra(s)’ tendency to wallow in misery is extremely high. The interesting fact though is that people who are negatively affected by being in a relationship with Sandra(s) are usually much more miserable than the Sandra(s) and on a far deeper level.
© 2015 Amel Abouelhassan