Phrases I hate

There’s a few lines I’ve gotten over the years that were supposed to ‘help’ or ‘comfort’ me.  Generally they did the opposite, either being so vague as to be useless, or further proving that no one else cared.  Here’s a couple that most of us have probably heard at one time or another, either from friends and family or our culture at large, that will never be helpful.

You have no reason to be upset

The reason this one is bad should be clear, but in case you can’t figure it out–if a person didn’t have a reason to be upset, they wouldn’t be upset!  You may take issues with the validity of that reason, but it’s still there, and simply ignoring it will not make it go away.  Closely related: People in (insert Third World country here) have it worse.

These are the best years of your life

The foundation of the It Gets Better project, this is one we tend to hear a lot in high school.  Anyone who says this to a depressed high school student either hasn’t thought it through, or is trying to encourage suicide. (Fortunately, I saw it for the bunk it is).  Think about it–you are telling this person who is already miserable, thinks life sucks,  and might be considering suicide that they have nothing to look forward to.  High school was not the best years of my life, and thank God for that.

These two phrases have one thing in common–they try to redefine another person’s experiences.  This is something that’s way too common in our culture, and the person you’re talking to will hear them as, “I don’t care about your problems so shut up.”  Sometimes the situation is minor, and sometimes it’s not.  For example, a woman who has experienced a miscarriage may hear things like, “It wasn’t viable anyways,” or, “It wasn’t a child yet.”  And the person saying these things may well be seeing it through that lens.  But to the woman who is grieving, that isn’t her reality–her reality is that she just lost a child, and that’s how she needs to be approached.

In the last couple years, I’ve come to the conclusion that emotions are inherently rational–they are based on our interpretations of reality.  Because we don’t all interpret reality the same way, we can have different emotional reactions to the same situation.  This is reflective of our values, our desires, our hopes and dreams.  If your class trip to the zoo gets canceled, the reactions can vary between disappointment, anger, and possibly even joy if someone particularly hates the zoo.  This is because our individual differences causes us to associate different meanings to that event.  One person might be disappointed that the trip is too expensive, another might be angry that the budget wasn’t increased, and a third might be glad to avoid having monkeys throw poo at them.  NONE OF THESE ARE WRONG.  Just because you don’t have the same reaction, does not mean that one reaction is wrong.

Emotions are reflective who we are.  When you try to redefine someone else’s experience to change their emotions,you are trying to change the person.  Sometimes that’s a good, even necessary thing.  Other times, by trying to negate the emotion, you are in a way trying to negate the person hirself.  Which brings me to one last phrase I hate.

There are no girls on the internet

No one likes being told they don’t exist.

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