Feelings. Emotions. They are the cornerstone of how we interpret, interact, and react to the world. And so many of us simply don’t know what our feelings are or what they mean. More importantly most of us have been taught our feelings are wrong, inappropriate, inconsequential and our pain is not “enough”, others have it worse, others are less sensitive, others have more control. etc etc etc. And we are subsequently taught we are fundamentally “wrong”. At least that’s been my life experience so far. And this makes sharing very very difficult. I was reminded of a story about someone’s reaction to the book “Eat Pray Love” during my morning pages and I think it exemplifies why so many people struggle with being emotionally honest. The world is pretty judgy.
Now however you feel about “Eat Pray Love” for a lot of people it resonated and for a lot it was a dream to be able to deal with emotional hurt in such a tangible and relaxed way. But that’s where I got the biggest kick from someone I thought of us a friend (this is where I remind you what you say about others can absolutely harm people you care about if they see themselves in you recriminations, food for thought) I was reading the book at work and was really enjoying some of what Elizabeth had to say, I was especially moved by her pain when to an outsider her life “looked great’ that more than anything struck me. We can have “things” that might seem like we have it all but we can still be hurting and feeling hollow and alone. And a woman at work went on a TIRADE.
“I hated that book what a whiny b*tch”. I was taken aback… Me: “Surely you can see that people can hurt deeply no matter what their outside life looks like and no matter what they have”? Her — “are you kidding she is just a selfish person who wants too much” …. this went back and forth for awhile until my relationship with this person was forever changed. I was never ever going to tell her again anything that I felt. Because I had felt that from so many people my whole life and here was more proof that people judged our pain and anguish and compared it. Did I realize that my loveless marriage was not the same as someone in a war torn country? yes OF COURSE but yet it doesn’t’ take away my feelings of emptiness, failure, and loneliness. But I was just shown that this was not a safe person to open up to and honestly I approach most people like they are just judgemental time bombs waiting to go off. I’m super sensitive and have an almost outsized sense of injustice and want everyone to be happy and be treated well. But that means I can’t compare people’s suffering. I do not ever want to belittle someone’s pain. But it happens so much how are any of us to ever be able to be honest. But I suppose that is what finding the right people is all about – finding the place where you can be real even if you to some your pain seems trivial or inconsequential, we don’t get to determine that for others.
But doesn’t it all start in childhood. Did anyone else here the phrase “I’ll give you something to cry about” — has it ever hit you as much as it did me recently how belittling that is to your feelings? Have you ever thought how much our faith in ourselves was beat (for some of us literally) out of us? How the hell are we supposed to understand our feelings when we are always told they are not the right ones. When our honest reactions to life are questioned and weighed. When tears are see has warfare?
I may not have the same trauma as the next person, objectively what some people experience is far worse than the next person, HOWEVER that does not diminish or negate the pain one person feels. This is why I am starting with self compassion. Because I want to store up enough compassion to understand that everyone is struggling and until we let them freely express their pain they will simply continue to lash out. Violence, depressions, anxiety, addiction, cultism all are the voices of the unheard, the misunderstood. If we want to change the world we have to start listening without judgment and hearing what people’s fears, hurts, and desires truly are. Start with yourself and go from there. No one’s pain or shame needs to be ridiculed it needs to be healed. As #brenebrown reminds us about the “Gifts of Imperfection” to be honest and to feel brings us #courage #compassion #connection and that is how we heal the world. I have something to cry about everyday and that is the suffering of the unheard.