“Healing doesn’t take place until we surrender to our feelings and allow them to wash over us.” —Christiane Northrup, in The Wisdom of Menopause
When you’re angry or hurt, do you say, “I shouldn’t complain. After all, other people have it so much worse.”?
Women do this a lot. Christiane Northrup, in The Wisdom of Menopause writes: “Many women downplay their pain by comparing themselves to someone else who is much worse off.” She calls it “bypassing anger.” We tell ourselves that it’s selfish to feel sorry for ourselves. We shove our own pain aside to deal with the problems of others.
I felt this way last year when I lost my dog, Sasha. I really missed my dog. I work from home, so she was my shadow every moment of the day. I felt like I’d lost a limb. But, in the last few years, several of my close friends lost spouses. How could I voice my grief over a dog to someone who had lost their life partner? How selfish would that be?
One day, a friend who had lost her husband asked about Sasha. I said something like, “Oh, I really miss her, but I shouldn’t complain. After all, I know it’s not the same as losing a spouse.” She said, “My loss doesn’t make your loss any less real.”
Now, that’s a friend.
I breathed a long sigh of relief and surrendered to full grief over my little doggie.
“Comparing our path to that of someone else invariably takes us away from our own emotions and what we need to do with them.” —Christiane Northrup, in The Wisdom of Menopause
If you hear yourself saying, “I shouldn’t complain. After all . . .”, stop. Catch yourself in that moment. Surrender to whatever it is. Allow your grief, your anger, your hurt to wash over you. Let the healing begin.
This doesn’t mean you don’t have empathy for the pain of others. It means you’ll be in a better place to support them.