'I've got it so much better than some people do.'
'I don't know why I'm feeling short tempered lately.'
'It is what it is.'
'I don't know where this is coming from.'
Every day this week, I have had conversations where these sentiments came up.
It got me thinking about how important it is to acknowledge pain.
Whether our pain is physical or emotional, most of us tend to minimize it, put on a brave face or direct the attention towards how much worse it could be. I'm definitely no expert, but I have a feeling that there is an evolutionary reason for it on some level. Any animal who displays signs of weakness is likely to get less respect and resources, or maybe even ostracized from the group. Showing weakness can be death to any animal who lives in a community.
But I think there's more to it. Perhaps we deflect because we feel uncomfortable being vulnerable or perhaps we've been gaslighted enough that we believe that we can't complain about our pain. We also stop sharing our pain if we've had bad experiences sharing in the past.
What I do know is that acknowledging pain is an important step in healing. If pain is not acknowledged, it does not resolve.
If you've had a crappy week (for any big or small reason) and choose to tell your friend that you're doing ok, you miss out on a valuable chance to build your connection with that friend, you isolate yourself in your suffering and, over time, your empathy for others drains away. If you struggle with sharing, think about how it makes you feel when someone shares something hard with you. It probably makes you feel valued and important to that person and it reinforces your shared humanity.
There's so much going on in the world right now that is heartbreaking. So many people are suffering. But judging someone else's pain as 'bigger' or 'more' does not take away your pain. And why the heck would we want to win that contest anyway?
If an event you were looking forward to gets cancelled and you're stuck in your home because it's too cold to get out, those are valid reasons to be feeling down. Don't deny them. Feel it. Share it with a friend or a professional.
If you're the friend on the receiving end of this conversation. Here's a short video that is really helpful in how to hear about a friend's pain. I hope it helps.