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People Who Repeat the Same Stories Over and Over Again


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27 replies to this topic

#1
KevinV

KevinV

  • 247 posts

I imagine we all repeat similar anecdotes from time to time, but I known someone for around 15 years who continuously tells the same anecdotes over and over again.  He'll tell me a particular story and then a few weeks later he'll tell me it over again as though it's a story I've never heard before.  Now I suppose it is possible that he has bad memory and it often happens to me that I think of an anecdote to tell and am unsure if I told it before.  However, he seems to have good memory for other things and thus it seems there's something psychological going on here.  For me, when I share an anecdote I feel that most of the time I am conscious of whether or not have told the anecdote before and when I am uncertain I usually preface it with a statement to that effect.  However, it seems as though he's almost always completely oblivious to the possibility of having told the story prior and just goes ahead with the anecdote.  I'm curious if this is a common psychological phenomenon.  Is there a name for this behaviour?  Does anyone know what might cause it?


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#2
Stefan Molyneux

Stefan Molyneux
  • 19731 posts

I have certainly noticed this behavior in some people -- I had a boss who did this constantly -- and there seems to be a kind of exercise of power and passive aggression in it, because it only seems to occur among people who won't call the person on this annoying behavior...


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#3
KevinV

KevinV

  • 247 posts

there seems to be a kind of exercise of power and passive aggression

That's interesting, I've never thought of that possibility.  I feel as though this scenario might be slightly different though.  I don't know for sure because my understanding of psychology is very limitied.   In my interaction with him, it seems like he attaches some kind of self worth to having something significant to say in a conversation but it's hard to say for sure.   Perhaps there is some sort of passive aggression going on that I'm not experienced in seeing.

it only seems to occur among people who won't call the person on this annoying behavior

Indeed, I realize now that I may have not been so kind to just ignore the behaviour over the years and thus have played a role in allowing him to continue.  I did this to avoid the unpleasant feeling of potentially causing him embarrassment or pain - a tendency from my childhood.  I passed it off as a kind of quirky, harmless behaviour but I think I actually did him a disservice by taking this approach.

 


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#4
WonderWiz

WonderWiz
  • 112 posts

I find this happens more often as people get older. I notice I'm more prone to telling boring stories as I get older; although, I don't commonly repeat them (yet). At least in some cases, I think it's an attempt to prove to themselves that they remember, that they haven't lost that memory. Imaging they are more interested in remembering, instead of being concerned about entertaining the listener, isn't hard for me. 


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#5
CaleyM

CaleyM
  • 50 posts

I worked on a farm for a few months where and old guy did this more often than every few weeks.  I got the impression that people felt the need to talk for comfort as we pulled vegetables out of the ground in the nigh silent countryside.


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#6
Hannes

Hannes
  • 32 posts

 I knew a very insecure person that only told stories that had been varified by other situations, she had had the anecdote "okayed" and then she used over and over again.


The anecdote: She walking at the beach and two big dogs came running. The owner had said that the dogs where very nice and never bitten anyone. But the point of the story was "well, what would that have helped if I where scared of dogs and how was I to know that the dogs where harmless?".


It seemed as she used the story to have something to be sure about, some thing that she could use whenever and knowing that the point of the story was gonna be accepted. I heard her tell this anecdote several times at dinner parties.


She seemed to find comfort in having something to fall back on and being sure that the story would be accepted. Telling the same story over and over I guess could be a way to control fear of the unknown, the anxeity of fearing to be judged. 


 


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#7
Maik

Maik
  • 232 posts

I noticed it too between my ex-classmates. Some of them kept telling stupid stories all the time. So I think it's common among teenagers, it's like, I don't know how to put in english, like social thing to become popular and interesting.


And of course there is also this type of people who simply forget or just old, so we can dismiss it [;)]


Cause notizing it in young people is quite bizzare.


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P.S. Sorry for my grammar and spelling. English is not my native language.


#8
Livemike

Livemike
  • 939 posts

I noticed it too between my ex-classmates. Some of them kept telling stupid stories all the time. So I think it's common among teenagers, it's like, I don't know how to put in english, like social thing to become popular and interesting.

And of course there is also this type of people who simply forget or just old, so we can dismiss it Wink

Cause notizing it in young people is quite bizzare.

Well it's clearly not to be interesting because of course you're not that interested after the first time.  I think the problem is that people don't really want to develop intimacy, or at least don't want to do it fast.  They feel they have to say something though or it becomes obvious that they are unable to relate to others in an informative, productive way.  So they tell stories that they know won't cause people to dislike them or reveal much of their inner self.  What is their reaction if you try to delve deeper into the story, get more out of it, or compare it to analogous situations you encountered?


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#9
nathanm

nathanm

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The same old story routine is probably just a social utility.  It's a tool you can pull out at anytime to make conversation.  My parents do it from time to time, but I think part of that may be age-related.  I do it myself online, often I have to double check to make sure I haven't posted the same thought twice on some forum.  I also do it myself sometimes, I'll go and check to see if I've posted the same kind of idea before on some forum.


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"The government always sneaks in when I'm half seized-over and purloins the very thread from my hanky!" - Joad Cressbeckler


#10
Everett

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  • 146 posts

Hi Kevin[:)]

... it seems as though he's almost always completely oblivious to the possibility of having told the story prior and just goes ahead with the anecdote. 

 

I've done similar things.  Sometimes I will tell a person a story that I "heard somewhere" only to be reminded that I heard it from THEM.  I think that often in conversation, I become a little dissociated and de-personalized and lose awareness of the other person to the point that they become sort of "generic".  It's as if I have a deep need to say something or to be heard, and it doesn't really matter who is fulfilling the role of audience for me.  So I'm not really talking TO THEM, I'm just saying my lines because it's my turn, and I'm getting some attention, and telling the story in the past has gotten me some kind of reward that I'm trying to re-create.  Sometimes I sort of "wake up" in the middle of it happening, and I'm able to see what I'm feeling and what's motivating me.  I notice that it's a very NEEDY feeling.

 

Another thing this reminds me is the phenomenon of people at work who I always seem to discuss the same topics with.  If we start out on a particular subject when we first meet and start talking to each other, we seem to be tied to that topic, and all of our future conversations make reference to it.  There was a custodian who started his work day an hour before I ended mine.  When we first introduced ourselves, we talked on the topic of apartment hunting.  EVERY time I encountered him for the next several months, he wanted to talk about apartment hunting.  It didn't matter if I tried to bring up other things in conversation, he was sticking to the script.  And there are people who when I am around them I seem to be stuck in the script as well.

 

I think Livemike is right, it's probably about avoiding intimacy.  It's a way of not empathizing with the other person.  In my case, I think I learned it from my parents.  They were very good at ignoring me even when they were having long conversations with me.

 


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#11
Livemike

Livemike
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Hi KevinSmile

... it seems as though he's almost always completely oblivious to the possibility of having told the story prior and just goes ahead with the anecdote. 

 

I've done similar things.  Sometimes I will tell a person a story that I "heard somewhere" only to be reminded that I heard it from THEM.  I think that often in conversation, I become a little dissociated and de-personalized and lose awareness of the other person to the point that they become sort of "generic".  It's as if I have a deep need to say something or to be heard, and it doesn't really matter who is fulfilling the role of audience for me.  So I'm not really talking TO THEM, I'm just saying my lines because it's my turn, and I'm getting some attention, and telling the story in the past has gotten me some kind of reward that I'm trying to re-create.  Sometimes I sort of "wake up" in the middle of it happening, and I'm able to see what I'm feeling and what's motivating me.  I notice that it's a very NEEDY feeling.

   Come to think of it I've done that too.  I guess I should be more understanding of people who do it to me. Thanks Everett for making me a bit more self-aware. 

Another thing this reminds me is the phenomenon of people at work who I always seem to discuss the same topics with.  If we start out on a particular subject when we first meet and start talking to each other, we seem to be tied to that topic, and all of our future conversations make reference to it.  There was a custodian who started his work day an hour before I ended mine.  When we first introduced ourselves, we talked on the topic of apartment hunting.  EVERY time I encountered him for the next several months, he wanted to talk about apartment hunting.  It didn't matter if I tried to bring up other things in conversation, he was sticking to the script.  And there are people who when I am around them I seem to be stuck in the script as well.

 

I think Livemike is right, it's probably about avoiding intimacy.  It's a way of not empathizing with the other person.  In my case, I think I learned it from my parents.  They were very good at ignoring me even when they were having long conversations with me.

Livemike may be right but he's also disparagingly describing something he's done himself, maybe a lot of times.  And now he's talking about himself in the third person.  I'm getting worried about that guy.


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#12
fingolfin

fingolfin
  • 2001 posts

Guys this is an awesome thread! All the combined ideas and experiences have been really interesting. Indeed I also experience this repetitious story-telling behaviour from some people I know well. I often get a feeling of irritation, sadness or frustration. 


It's amazing to me how discussing seemingly minor behavioural nuances can be so enlightening, when explored with curious challenging thinkers such as yourselves. 


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#13
Hannes

Hannes
  • 32 posts

it is possible that old people might do the repetition-thing to a higher degree
because of problems with intimacy as a result of child rearing, and lower intelligence.

"I think the problem is that people don't really want to develop intimacy, or at least don't want to do it fast.  They feel they have to say something though or it becomes obvious that they are unable to relate to others in an informative, productive way."

"I've done similar things.  Sometimes I will tell a person a story that I "heard somewhere" only to be reminded that I heard it from THEM.  I think that often in conversation, I become a little dissociated and de-personalized and lose awareness of the other person to the point that they become sort of "generic".  It's as if I have a deep need to say something or to be heard, and it doesn't really matter who is fulfilling the role of audience for me.  So I'm not really talking TO THEM, I'm just saying my lines because it's my turn, and I'm getting some attention, and telling the story in the past has gotten me some kind of reward that I'm trying to re-create.  Sometimes I sort of "wake up" in the middle of it happening, and I'm able to see what I'm feeling and what's motivating me.  I notice that it's a very NEEDY feeling."

"I think Livemike is right, it's probably about avoiding intimacy.  It's a way of not empathizing with the other person.  In my case, I think I learned it from my parents.  They were very good at ignoring me even when they were having long conversations with me."

in my experience this is a trait that comes with a bunch of others, with a general fear of opening up and tredding upon unknown land,
together with a resistance to intimacy. that would explain the NEEDY feeling. And very interesting the aspect of non-reciprocity, and non-exchange. merely reporting "interaction".




"Guys this is an awesome thread! All the combined ideas and experiences have been really interesting. Indeed I also experience this repetitious story-telling behaviour from some people I know well. I often get a feeling of irritation, sadness or frustration.

It's amazing to me how discussing seemingly minor behavioural nuances can be so enlightening, when explored with curious challenging thinkers such as yourselves."

Yeah, so true! I find it very exciting. What are y'alls thoughts about thin-slicing in this context? 


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#14
KevinV

KevinV

  • 247 posts

I've done similar things.  Sometimes I will tell a person a story that I "heard somewhere" only to be reminded that I heard it from THEM.

It's interesting you say that, because I remember often getting the urge to share an anecdote, then suddenly wondering if it was in fact the person I'm talking to who initially told me the anecdote.  My fear of sounding silly stops me or makes me preface the anecdote with something to the effect of "I'm not sure if you were the one who told me this or not...".  However, I wonder if I didn't have such inhibitions would I tell the same stories at times as well.

think that often in conversation, I become a little dissociated and de-personalized and lose awareness of the other person to the point that they become sort of "generic".  It's as if I have a deep need to say something or to be heard, and it doesn't really matter who is fulfilling the role of audience for me.

Your perspective on this is very interesting and enlightening.  I suspect what you describe might be the case with the individual I was talking about in the initial post.  I also think it might have been an issue for me as well because I feel similar feelings as you express.  Although in my case,  having observed the phenomenon and the inhibitions make me tentative when sharing stories.  Otherwise, I might have the same tendencies.


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#15
Chris3443

Chris3443

  • 151 posts

 I have a manager who does this, and the older employees say he has been repeating the same stories for 30 years. Personally, I think the problem might be that these people have just shut off their brains and are on auto-pilot when dealing with people. They seem to have found a comfortable and successful way of talking to people at work that doesn't cause them distress, and they just keep doing what gets them through the day without any upsets. Eventually it probably gets to the point where they are basically unconcious all day.


Maybe I am overly pessimistic about people...


 


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People pick up ringing phones or don't


#16
Just_A_Guy

Just_A_Guy
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Hello guys. I just found this wonderful thread from Google. I'm a regular guy who lives in Asia and need serious help about this problem/this disease. the repeating the old stories again and again disease. I call it a disease, because it's very annoying. well, the problem is that a very dear and close relative of mine (whom I see 3 or 4 times a week) got this disease. he's been like this for over 25 years now! from the day I was born. he doesn't have alzheimer obviously, cause first: unfortunately my grandmother got alzheimer and I know all about it, second : as I said before, he's been like this for more than 25 years, from the day I was born. he's a good businessman who doesn't have any medical problem at all. the only problem with him is this repeating the same stories. you can't believe it and I'm not exaggerating that he have told me some of the stories and memories more than 100 times. I mean he told them to me literally more than 100 times! god it's annoying. I just can't tell him. I know some other people may make fun of him and that's why I just want him to be cured. just tell me the name of this disease please!

Thank You


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#17
aelephant

aelephant
  • 827 posts

My Dad has done this for a very long time. He is very passive-aggressive in other ways. It makes a lot of sense to me that this could sometimes be another passive aggressive "trick". It is a sort of cowardly punishment to "make" people suffer through the same boring stories over and over again. Sometimes I tell him, "You just told me that" but sometimes it is hard to get a word in edge-wise with him. Sometimes it just doesn't feel worth the effort to try to get him to stop. It is seriously frustrating. It is like a war of attrition.


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#18
Don Sebastian

Don Sebastian
  • 1638 posts

This has to be the most interesting post in an oliver sacks neurological sort of way. Welcome to the FDR community by the way.


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#19
Just_A_Guy

Just_A_Guy
  • 2 posts

Ya'll sayin' that there's no solution there?


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#20
Noesis

Noesis

    Moral Nihilist

  • 403 posts

I have two family members who repeat the same stories a lot, but it appears to me as if they do it for different reasons.


First, there's my grandfather who is 82 years old. He lost his wife a few years ago and it seems to have gotten worse since then. It's obviously comforting to him to recall happier times, stories of his life that he's proud of. His short-term memory has become incredibly poor, so I think he has to fall back on long-term memory in conversation. He may actually be getting Alzheimer's, but it's hard to tell, because sometimes he remembers things better than I do! So for him I think it's partly due to age, partly due to loneliness (so he wants to be part of the conversation), and partly nostalgia. 


The other family member that does this is my father. He's a very macho/athletic kind of guy. My father doesn't deal with abstracts very well. He's realistic and practical, tying everything to the current situation at hand. This makes him really excellent in his work, because he's resourceful, focused, and good with mechanics. But socially he doesn't have the ability to be very diverse. He basically always is repeating stories or jokes, if he's not acting silly or stupid to get everyone to laugh. I think it's partly due to his job, because he's always had to work with new people, and I'm sure it can be draining to have to get to know someone new every couple of days. In order to work with someone who might be very different from him, to try and make it pleasant, my father would fall back on stories he's told in the past or jokes. This works well to entertain people who you don't know and who haven't heard the story before. 


But I've heard my father's stories 1,000+ times. It does get quite annoying. But I understand that he seems to be socially limited. He can't discuss science or philosophy or literature with me. He enjoys sports, wrestling, and cars. There isn't a lot of common ground between us, so he seems to not know how to have a conversation with me. He of course asks about my feelings and important day-to-day stuff, but other than that he can't connect with me on the subjects that interest me. He tries to make an effort sometimes, and I try to do the same, sometimes talking about cars or baseball. (Yes, it's always hilarious when I attempt to do so.) But he seems to get nervous if he's not making me laugh or smile; I suppose he thinks that telling amusing stories is the best card he has to play; even if those stories have been told before. It's his way of trying to amuse me, trying to bond with me, trying to make my interaction with him pleasant. It seems to come from some kind of insecurity... he feels included or accepted when he tells his stories, even when he knows everyone he's telling it to has heard it. It fills time, and in the end it's still an amusing story. So for my father I think it's partly due to habit, partly due to insecurity, and partly due to his extremely focused interests which causes him to be socially limited (unable to relate to many other people).


Does anyone know of women who repeat stories this often? It just occurred to me that it might not be as common in women, although I wouldn't be sure why. Possibly because women are supposed to be more aware of how others feel? Or they're supposed to be more diverse, socially? There'd have to be a solid scientific reason. Maybe it's not true, but it's just a thought. I don't personally know any women who've done this, even in old age, but maybe that's just me.


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#21
Luis A_

Luis A_

  • 39 posts

This is another possibility I thought of, but maybe it's like a symptom that has various causes. It can grow from insecurity, passive agression, aging, habit or any other that has already been mentioned.
For example, you can end up feeling dizzy because of low blood pressure, motion sickness or simply because you had to much of the ol' booze and hooch.


Probably it is a good idea to watch the overall behaviour of the person who does this and the situation he/she does it. If it is someone who has to interact with a lot of different people, I can understand that having a set script that works and makes the interaction pleasant, he/she will use it because it saves time and effort in making the interaction pleasant. Especially if these interactions are short and probably unique, meaning you probably won't see that person again. In this case it is more out of habit, but then again one could say it roots in somekind of limited social habilities, if it is used as a form of anxiety control when faced with people you don't know and have to deal with. If one is insecure in social situation but there are a couple of stories you know that work in the situation you are faced with, you will probably, well... used them. It's a kind of mental "if it works, don't fix it".

But if it is a situation like has been mentioned, that the person telling the same story again and again feels he can do it because there is some perceived resistance in the listener in pointing out that the story has already been told before - like a boss or a parent - then the root is passive agression. I have had the experience of point it out to someone like this, and the reaction has always been to either forcefully continue with the story, change to another endlessly repeated story, or fall in an tantrum of "since no one want's to listen to me, I might as well shut up" - while later trying to jab in yet another one of these stories. So yes, I completly understand the sense of being in a "war of attrition".


 


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Se consegues ler e compreender esta frase, fantástico! Peço-te que me
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V for Voluntaryism ----- V de Voluntarismo


#22
Noesis

Noesis

    Moral Nihilist

  • 403 posts

But if it is a situation like has been mentioned, that the person telling the same story again and again feels he can do it because there is some perceived resistance in the listener in pointing out that the story has already been told before - like a boss or a parent - then the root is passive agression. I have had the experience of point it out to someone like this, and the reaction has always been to either forcefully continue with the story, change to another endlessly repeated story, or fall in an tantrum of "since no one want's to listen to me, I might as well shut up" - while later trying to jab in yet another one of these stories. So yes, I completly understand the sense of being in a "war of attrition".

I'd just like to suggest that possibly the root isn't necessarily passive aggression? 

If it's a boss, and they find their job highly stressful, and this tactic of using the same stories over and over has become the easiest way to deal with it... it might hurt their pride if you're saying that they should be capable of coming up with new stories for each person. They might think to themselves, "You don't know a thing about how difficult it is," especially if they've already felt inadequate. It could merely be insecurity that causes them to lash out with anger, because they obviously use this method for some reason... whether it's energy conservation, habit, sticking to what works, or all they know how to do. So if you come along and point out that what they're doing is annoying they may be very sensitive to it! You're rejecting them for what has become the way they get by. 

If it's a parent, I imagine it could be even more hurtful. The parent may have many reasons for using this method, and for it to be rejected by their child might scare them a lot. They might not be trying to purposely bore you (I mean, they have to suffer through the same boring retelling of it too), but perhaps as some way of reaching out to try to fulfil a need they don't otherwise know how to fulfil. Like, in my father's case, bonding with me and trying to assure himself that I enjoy spending time with him. If I were to say to him, "You've told me that same story 1,000 times before!" I'm pretty sure he'd feel very wounded—completely rejected. He doesn't have the same type of intelligence as I do; he finds philosophy utterly boring. Now, I don't bore him with philosophical speeches over and over, but I also am capable of being more socially diverse. He simply is not, because he never varies from this pattern, ever, no matter who he's with. (He doesn't even change his jokester personality for funerals!) He tells these same stories to everyone. I'm sure he wishes he could talk to me about what interests me, but he can't. So he feels insecure. He wants my approval and love, since he cares about me. Now, in my case, it's worth listening his stories a million billion trillion times, in order to see him relax and feel appreciated. [:)

You can probably catch telling glimpses of their motivations in their expressions or their tone. I can see when I bring up an abstract topic, my father starts to fidget or appear to get nervous. He then tries to quickly change the topic. I think he also feels like he should be wise, because he's my father, so he should have good advice to give me. A lot of time he doesn't seem to have advice to give me... so instead he tells me a story that is somewhat loosely related to the subject. I think this makes him feel "wise". And I can literally see him relax and appear happier when he makes me smile or laugh from one of his stories/jokes. That seems to indicate it's not passive aggression at all.

I'd just be very cautious about assuming that this particular behaviour is passive aggression if they get angry when confronted about it. I think I'd get a bit angry, too, if someone criticized the only way I know how to deal with people—especially if I cared about that person. Thoughts?


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#23
Josh F

Josh F

    Thought Terrorist


  • 766 posts

I'm a story repeater. I've put some thought into it...


1.  Some context helps.  Growing up as a child my Dad
was an excellent story teller and humerus communicator.  At
dinner tables, when our stories were long or boring, we were told to shut up.  I have to really emphasize the verbal abuse
here because it was actually pretty intense.  There were many
dinners where me, my sister, and my mom would all be silenced and
forced only to listen to my Dad speak.  I never got a pity laugh
for a bad joke.  In fact the opposite was true: I was always told my joke wasn't funny.  On the positive side, I'm now an equally excellent story teller and also
humerus communicator.  My entire family is hilarious.  Its
really this sort of tragic twist on humor though, because it comes
from this place of abuse and insecurity.  If you were at a
family dinner with my family you would inevitably compliment all of
us on being really funny, high spirited, upbeat story tellers. 
I'm not kidding, we get compliments ALL THE TIME like this...


2.  So why repeat stories?  One reason is to test them out. 
Every telling of the story allows me to master it a little more. 
It gets funnier, more concise, and often more meaningful.  This
is a sort of existentialist reasoning, in that it is ultimately my
fear of rejection that inspires this behavior


3.  Overcoming an event is an important part of my personal
philosophy.  I've learned that trauma is best dealt with openly,
and this is sort of an attempt at re-contextualizing previous
events.  Here is how I mean it: the abuse involved in our story telling... I tell that story. 
I tell that story AT FAMILY DINNERS!  I tell it with my Dad
present.  And everyone laughs.  Not at us, but in the
delivery. I leave a lot of room for people to feel comfortable with
the tragedy.  On the positive side, it has gone from some
buried traumatic memory to a focal point of discussion.


4.  Mastering the story.  When I was in high school I
got jumped by 6 classmates one day.  This was one of, if the not
the single worst day in my entire high school experience.  My
knee was dislocated, I was embarrassed (it happened in public) and
none of my friends helped or defended me in any way.  The
experience was extremely depressing and lonely.  However, come
to a house party where I am retelling that story, and I promise that
if I'm in an affable mood I will make you laugh while I am telling
the story.  You'll leave with a sense that I've a toughest skin and nothing phases me.  For the first time
ever, just last night, I told the REAL version of the story.  I
explained how humiliating and terrible the experience was.  I
didn't throw in the part about the one punch I got in, I didn't
mention the part where I ran into one of the attackers at a party and
managed to embarrass him in front of his friends and girlfriend. 
I didn't give that side... and the room went silent.  People
pitied me... a story that normally makes them laugh made them all
look at me like I was some kind of loser.


 


hope this helps =D


 


(typos removed)




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#24
andyissemicool

andyissemicool
  • 28 posts

Ah, this thread reminds me of the time I was driving down Highway 101 in California. The day was a Tuesday and the sun was shining brightly in the sky...


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#25
Blank

Blank


  • 14136 posts

Ah, this thread reminds me of the time I was driving down Highway 101 in California. The day was a Tuesday and the sun was shining brightly in the sky...

Not that one again!


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#26
Luis A_

Luis A_

  • 39 posts

But if it is a situation like has been mentioned, that the person telling the same story again and again feels he can do it because there is some perceived resistance in the listener in pointing out that the story has already been told before - like a boss or a parent - then the root is passive agression. I have had the experience of point it out to someone like this, and the reaction has always been to either forcefully continue with the story, change to another endlessly repeated story, or fall in an tantrum of "since no one want's to listen to me, I might as well shut up" - while later trying to jab in yet another one of these stories. So yes, I completly understand the sense of being in a "war of attrition".

I'd just like to suggest that possibly the root isn't necessarily passive aggression? 

If it's a boss, and they find their job highly stressful, and this tactic of using the same stories over and over has become the easiest way to deal with it... it might hurt their pride if you're saying that they should be capable of coming up with new stories for each person. They might think to themselves, "You don't know a thing about how difficult it is," especially if they've already felt inadequate. It could merely be insecurity that causes them to lash out with anger, because they obviously use this method for some reason... whether it's energy conservation, habit, sticking to what works, or all they know how to do. So if you come along and point out that what they're doing is annoying they may be very sensitive to it! You're rejecting them for what has become the way they get by. 

If it's a parent, I imagine it could be even more hurtful. The parent may have many reasons for using this method, and for it to be rejected by their child might scare them a lot. They might not be trying to purposely bore you (I mean, they have to suffer through the same boring retelling of it too), but perhaps as some way of reaching out to try to fulfil a need they don't otherwise know how to fulfil. Like, in my father's case, bonding with me and trying to assure himself that I enjoy spending time with him. If I were to say to him, "You've told me that same story 1,000 times before!" I'm pretty sure he'd feel very wounded—completely rejected. He doesn't have the same type of intelligence as I do; he finds philosophy utterly boring. Now, I don't bore him with philosophical speeches over and over, but I also am capable of being more socially diverse. He simply is not, because he never varies from this pattern, ever, no matter who he's with. (He doesn't even change his jokester personality for funerals!) He tells these same stories to everyone. I'm sure he wishes he could talk to me about what interests me, but he can't. So he feels insecure. He wants my approval and love, since he cares about me. Now, in my case, it's worth listening his stories a million billion trillion times, in order to see him relax and feel appreciated. Smile 

You can probably catch telling glimpses of their motivations in their expressions or their tone. I can see when I bring up an abstract topic, my father starts to fidget or appear to get nervous. He then tries to quickly change the topic. I think he also feels like he should be wise, because he's my father, so he should have good advice to give me. A lot of time he doesn't seem to have advice to give me... so instead he tells me a story that is somewhat loosely related to the subject. I think this makes him feel "wise". And I can literally see him relax and appear happier when he makes me smile or laugh from one of his stories/jokes. That seems to indicate it's not passive aggression at all.

I'd just be very cautious about assuming that this particular behaviour is passive aggression if they get angry when confronted about it. I think I'd get a bit angry, too, if someone criticized the only way I know how to deal with people—especially if I cared about that person. Thoughts?

 

I think I wasn't clear in my communication, for which I apologize. When I talked about a boss or a parent I was refering to people that hold authority over you, so you feel some resistance in pointing out that the are being annoying because negative consequences will follow. I understand that they can get angry because you're hurting them by rejecting their way to get by. The experience of point out the repeating story telling that I talked about, I did not do it lightheartedly - I came to do it because I came to a breaking point of feeling the interaction was passive agressive, or at least bullying, because this storyteller has a tendency to try and monopolize the conversation and attention. Now that I look at it, I might have overgeneralized my own experience, in which case I thank you for pointing out.

As I said, one particular behaviour - the repeating stories - can maybe be a symptom that roots in different causes. In your father's case, you know it his way to bond with you. You discovered the root behind his repeating story telling, and better understanding of other people - especially the ones you love - is good to acheive.


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Se consegues ler e compreender esta frase, fantástico! Peço-te que me
contactes, gostaria de falar sobre filosofia em português!


V for Voluntaryism ----- V de Voluntarismo


#27
Josh F

Josh F

    Thought Terrorist


  • 766 posts

 I have a manager who does this, and the older employees say he has been repeating the same stories for 30 years. Personally, I think the problem might be that these people have just shut off their brains and are on auto-pilot when dealing with people. They seem to have found a comfortable and successful way of talking to people at work that doesn't cause them distress, and they just keep doing what gets them through the day without any upsets. Eventually it probably gets to the point where they are basically unconcious all day.

Maybe I am overly pessimistic about people...

 

 

You're horribly mistaken if you think they're on auto-pilot.  As the resident repeat storyteller, allow me to express to you the insane amount of time I spend in the persuit of telling a story just the right way.  Its almost obsessive compulsive.


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#28
SimonF

SimonF
  • 1366 posts

This sounds like a way for people to avoid being present because they are in difficult emotions. Some think that "making conversation" is necessary, because it's rude not to talk so someone in your presence, for example. Some people are anxious around other people, and familiarity helps them feel better.


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to see crazy, you have to know sane


 





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