Living your past pain through others.
Have you ever felt that, during a conversation, the person you were speaking to was having a conversation with someone else and not you? Eyesights were seeing something beyond you, and words were being spoken to someone other than yourself?
That's probably because one was doing exactly that. And most likely they were speaking to none other than themselves.
We all encounter this, especially when confiding about your hardships or challenges. From one perspective, it's a sign that they are trying to use their imaginative empathy muscle to really feel what you are experiencing. But what happens next can be problematic.
When one tries to visit their mind library where past files are stored, and find a folder that has similar physical or mental experience as yours, once they open the folder, they have to relive the content of the folder to a certain level - this is so that they can be where you are to understand you better.
However, when they start revisiting the past experience, and have unresolved tension or thoughts associated with the particular folder they've chosen, the chain of thought often occupies their mind. At that point, you'll find their eyesights to be unfocused on you.
First comes the mind, then the physiology, then the words.
When they attempt to say something kind or understanding, you may feel that those words aren't for you, they're for them. Your presence in their mind have probably faded and they're witnessing their then-self, speaking to their past-self through expressing compassion or otherwise. What this means is:
They’re trying to live through their words through you, so it serves their own pain and validate their inner-existence.
So even though you wanted to confide in them, they've confided within and concluded the session. It's often that you'll feel slightly confused, or even bittersweet, and the other left feeling empowered, because in their mind, they've encouraged you.
Those experiencing this - whether to bring this up within the conversation is entirely up to you. Though if this becomes a constant, it's probably best if you do.
Those who catch themselves living through others, pause for a second and think what type of support you'd want to give and receive. Remind yourself that you can quiet your mind and ego, and truly see the person in front of you.