Yes, we all have our own subjective reality. Are you able to validate someone else’s, even if you don’t agree with them? If you’ve ever had someone dismiss or belittle your feelings, you know how invalidating that can be. You just poured your heart out, and there she is saying: “It could be worse.” Well, you know it could be a lot better, too. The truth is that if you find yourself the victim of other people’s bitterness or smallness, remember: Things could be worse. You could be them. But please do not say those words to someone suffering greatly. Offer empathy and compassion. Perspective and enlightenment will come in time.
No one wants to feel that her “reality” is wrong. Her emotional ordeal is valid to her. We truly have no right to tell anyone how one “should” feel. When someone denies your personal perspective, you may feel unseen and or even insignificant.
“Oh, you’ll need a ladder to get over yourself.” Do you really want her to tell you to dismiss your feelings and to just get over it? I know. Sometimes being all depressed about the past is like being sad because the garbage man picked up the trash. I’ve decided I’m not going to focus on my past anymore. So if I owe you money, I’m sorry. Heh.
But do acknowledge her pain. Do you ever have unexplained aches and pains, stomach upset, or anxiety? Do you sometimes eat or drink way too much? Your “check liver” light just went on? Trust me. Those just may be your suppressed feelings looking for a way to make themselves known.
“Oh, so you’re giving me the silent treatment?” Finally. Uh, oh. You ghosted her, slammed the door, or decided to ignore her. No, no. That is one of the most blistering non-verbal invalidations. Please resist the compulsion to do this to a friend or loved one. Try to understand his perspective or point of view, even if you differ and disagree with it.
Whether we like to admit it or not, we humans all crave a sense of belonging. Down deep, we want to be understood and accepted. Did you ever have an experience with a friend and you both had vastly different reactions and felt entirely different emotions about it? Your feelings are unique to you and reflect your perceptions and past experiences in life. And, no, they are not right or wrong.
Anybody want some feelings? I have too many. Don’t you sometimes wish you were full of pizza instead of emotions? It’s natural to want to quickly cheer her up when she is sad. Sometimes we just want others to welcome our feelings without making us question them. How many times have you been told that you are simply overreacting? Some say that for every male action, there is a female overreaction. Sheesh. Sometimes it is a normal reaction to an abnormal amount of insult or injury.
You may be tempted to say: “I know exactly how you feel.” Please don’t. And though it may be well-meaning, he may feel as though you are minimizing his distress. After all, how can you know? It’s been said: “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.” But truthfully, the greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance. It’s the illusion of knowledge. Do not assume you know, please. Always assume that all assumptions are wrong.
Some things are just best said with an eye-roll? You just rolled your eyes so hard, you saw your brain. What’s that? You’re multitasking: listening and ignoring me at the same time? Think twice before you roll your eyes, play on your phone while she is talking, or simply ignore her. Did you just tell him not to make a big deal out of everything or that he shouldn’t be angry? Instead of discounting him, be interested in understanding his feelings. Tell him you want to understand more about how he feels.
But please be realistic, sweet friends. Some just do not have the capacity, or desire to understand our spirit or state of mind. Pay attention and accept your own feelings even if others can’t. Your emotions contain truth and wisdom. Value your internal experiences.
“I’m sorry for misunderstanding your misinterpretation of my words.” Yikes. Please do not hide your feelings in order to be loved. There is no need to constantly defend yourself to others. Be compassionate to yourself and choose to be around people who are loving and will support your growth. Be aware of the impact of your words and actions. Are they thoughtful and tolerant? We feel more connected to those who accept all of us.
Did you notice that the ones who tell you to “calm down” are always the ones who aggravated you in the first place? During an argument with her husband, a wife was just about to calm down. But then her husband asked her to calm down… You get the idea.
To make a mistake is human. But to blame it on someone else – that’s even more human. Please avoid blaming others. Fix the problem, not the blame. Blame is what keeps wounds open.
When we feel understood, it actually lessens the intensity of our emotions. Don’t vacuum up all the feelings you happen to be uncomfortable with. And, hey, this birthday, give her something really special: Learn how the vacuum cleaner works.
Remember this, sweet friends: Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful and magical.