“Never underestimate the pain of a person, because in all honesty, everyone is struggling. Some people are better at hiding it than others.” ~Will Smith
I think one of the biggest mistake we make is to assume that we know what someone else is going through. Each person is a makeup of varied experiences that make them feel, think and respond in ways that are unique to that person. While there are similar ways that we behave, it’s impossible to know exactly how someone is feeling. Despite all of this, we have this amazing ability to empathize. I may not know exactly what you are going through, but I’ve felt some of the feelings before. This is how we connect.
When something shocking happens in someone else’s life, the people around them say, “I didn’t know there was anything wrong.” That may be true. But, more often than not, people saw signs but didn’t want to acknowledge them. It’s very hard for people not to show their state of mind. We leak it through our words and our actions, but in small ways. So, if you’re not really paying attention, you won’t notice it. Also, people are often projecting their will or abilities on to you. So, if they can handle it, they assume that you can handle it. Sometimes, people can watch someone physically or mentally crumbling before them, but assume that they will pull it together at some point. People often think that time heals all wounds, but time can cause them to fester and cancer within someone. Early intervention can save a person.
So, how does this happen? How do people become walking dead in front of our faces? It’s because we are raised to disown our true feelings if they are negative. The problem is that when you disown the bad feelings, you also disown the good feelings. How many times have you asked or been asked, “How are you today?”
You respond, “I’m fine.” The response is often no matter what your true feelings are, because we believe that people shouldn’t be burdened with our feelings. You may have just had an argument with your spouse. You may have found out you are going to be laid off. Or you could be dealing with financial issues. But, in that moment, you smile and pretend that your life is great and you are in a great emotional state for that person. It is true that you can’t walk around telling everyone your problems, because that won’t bring you sympathy. But, you have to be careful that you share your true feelings with someone. Disowned feelings have a way of showing up in you life in ways that can be destructive. You can sabotage your relationships, health and well-being when you feel like no one cares about your feelings. There should be one person in your life that you can tell your true feelings to who can receive them and allow you to process and feel your emotions. That one person is you. If you don’t allow yourself to feel how you feel, then you are not giving yourself the kindness you need from the world.
Be kind to others because they are feeling things that you may not completely understand. More importantly, remember to be kind to yourself. Whatever you feel is real. It’s real to you and that’s enough to make it worth your kindness.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” ― Alexandrinus Philo