By Out-of-Sync Woman
I often feel like I don’t know how to express my strong feelings of concern about another person. I often feel like I come across as distant or uninterested when that’s not true. It’s more that I feel awkward, uncomfortable, and unsure how to appropriately express my willingness to help. It’s also really hard for me to identify other people’s facial expressions so I sometimes miss things or I’m too slow to respond and the moment passes.
For instance, a good friend of mine had a close family member pass away. I could understand to some extent what it was like to lose a close family member but grief is so unique for everyone that my experiences may not be the same as theirs. If I’d had the ability, I would have spared my friend that pain. I felt deeply sad for the whole family. I also felt regret since I didn’t get the chance to truly know this remarkable person. I wish I’d had more experiences with the person who died; she was an amazing person, kind, generous, funny, and special. I want to express to my friend that I care very deeply as I know she is having a hard time.
I know I struggle with difficult emotions, including my own and other people’s. However, I have also noticed lots of other people aren’t very good at acknowledging and giving people space for hard emotions or supporting people through tough times. We as a culture often ignore that people are struggling or tell them to “suck it up, buttercup” and to “move on.” We as a culture would prefer people to put on masks of smiley faces rather than acknowledge that there are real problems and that people are having a hard time. I feel like if we’re weren’t so divided and fractured, it wouldn’t be so easy to dismiss another person’s pain as fake or not even acknowledge it. I truly wish there were more safe places to knowledge the fact that we’re human and that people are trying the best they can. My mom would always say she wished the world was a kinder, gentler place, and I really agree with that.
What can I do? For me, personally, learning more about people, especially difficult emotions and how to express support or empathy is important. It might be my best option since I have difficulty thinking on my feet or reacting quickly. Maybe I could practice with my support person how to react to bad news or the fact that somebody is struggling. I also need to acknowledge that there’s no right way or perfect answer to express how I feel towards another person’s difficulties. I really need to acknowledge that no matter how much I practice or study, there are still going to be situations where I don’t know what to do and there are no good answers. All I can do is continue to try my best when expressing myself