“You are the Monday of my life.” Uh, oh. So, some people don’t like you, but what can you do? Not everyone has good taste. How many people in your life truly accept you? He says he loves you, yet he dismisses your feelings. She regularly reminds you how inaccurate your emotional responses are. Well, all of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.
Did you know that validating someone’s feelings is one of the most crucial things you can do in order to nurture a healthy relationship? How many likes? Did you get any new followers? So, you spend ten hours a day on the Internet seeking validation from strangers. Ah, technology. You know, when you delete an app on your phone, don’t all the shaking icons make you feel like they’re all panicked about who’s getting axed next? Trust me: “Offline” is the new luxury.
Instead of spending so much trying to find someone, first find yourself. Me? I’d rather take coffee than compliments right now. Speaking of which: May your coffee kick in before reality does. No matter what historians claimed, “BC” stands for: “Before Coffee.”
But truly, please give others the space to exist. Everyone has their own subjective reality, whether they know it or not. Do not make her feel insignificant or worthless simply because you may not agree with her views. If you discount him, or invalidate him on a regular basis, you may be unintentionally emotionally abusing him.
You’re tempted to tell her, “It could be worse.” You may be a well-meaning soul, but she can end up feeling negated, as though you are minimizing her suffering. True, we do need perspective at times. But not at the expense of empathy and compassion, please.
Yes, we all want to fix the boo-boo, and make our loved ones and friends feel better. But, how? Here’s a tissue for your issues. She’s crying, so of course you offer a tissue to wipe away the tears. But what did you say or do in the moment?
“Well, you really shouldn’t feel that way.” No, no. We cannot decide how he should feel. Everyone’s emotional experience is legitimate to him or her. “Get over it.” We’ve all either said that to someone, or we have been told ourselves. Well, the truth is: We don’t just “get over it.” We move through it and past it. We sometimes lose ourselves to find ourselves once more. I’m sure you have made peace with your pain if you found meaning in your life again.
Please do not convey snootiness or superiority regarding her sentiments. We are told to dismiss our feelings and just carry on. Trust me, you cannot simply send those feelings packing. Of course, in order to function, we need to lay aside some of our emotions. But feelings do not like to be silenced or squashed. They will find a way to make themselves known. They can even show up in the form of headaches, anxiety, stomach pain, or even panic attacks. So please do not trivialize or make light of yours or anyone else’s feelings, sweet friends.
“Thanks for ignoring my calls and texts while updating your Instagram every five minutes.” Uh, Oh. “Hey, at least the next time my nephew asks me to tell him a ghost story, I can tell him about you.” Have you been ghosted or a victim of the silent treatment? Did he just fall off the planet one day? Okay, sometimes my brain gives me the silent treatment. But that’s another matter entirely.
“Yo, it seems like your phone has been dead for 2½ weeks now. Let me know if you need to borrow my charger.” But seriously, ignore someone long enough and you teach that someone how to live without you.
“I guess we’re playing who can go longest without texting first. You won. But you lost me.” Failing to notice all five of her text messages? Rolling your eyes while he’s talking again? Leaving the room in the middle of a “talk”? Those are among the most rejecting and invalidating things you can do to someone.
Try simply being present and listening. Can you truly understand where he is coming from? It feels good to hear someone say: “That must be so distressing or painful for you.” Please do not make her brush her feelings aside for your sake. Do not make him question his own thoughts or deny his own experiences. It’s unfair to try to coerce him into toxic positivity simply because you may be uncomfortable with his emotions at the moment.
Feeling heard and understood lessens the intensity of powerful feelings. If he’s acting out of sorts, try saying: “You seem upset. What’s going on?” It’s not really your job to make that feeling go away. But do tell her that you are there for her.
Let someone know today that you hear them. Your feelings matter, sweet friends – and so do you. May you always know that you have a hand to hold.