Are You Minimizing Yourself and Others?
Yesterday, I observed a woman denying that an advertisement was offensive, simply because it didn’t offend HER, personally.
In my humble opinion, I believe there is a more empathetic, and socially effective approach we can choose.
See, I don’t believe it is my place to define someone else’s trauma. The woman can choose to not be offended, personally, but denying another person’s pain often just perpetuates the trauma cycle.
What if you went to the doctor for a broken leg and they said, “Oh, that injury shouldn’t hurt. That’s not that bad. You should see some of the stuff I see.” (Well, some doctors DO say versions of this.)
And yet, that is what we are doing every time we minimize someone else’s pain.
We are saying, “Whatever. I’ve heard worse. That’s not so bad. You shouldn’t feel that way.”
Yesterday’s woman went on to say that the ad wasn’t intended to be offensive, so therefore people were interpreting it incorrectly. Ok, sure. Intention is important. But, so is impact. A conscious society acknowledges both.
I never intend on offending someone. But, it happens. And when it does, I can spend the next day, or week, arguing that they are overreacting. Or, I can acknowledge my small, or large, part in contributing to their pain. I didn’t intend to offend them. But, the impact of my words, or my tone, or my behavior offended them. What I do next is up to me.
That is a pivotal moment. It will determine how the relationship proceeds.
If you are invested in healthy relationships with others, in your personal, or global world, I suggest you take an honest look at yourself.
What are your intentions? But, also, what is your impact?
Do you find yourself denying other’s pain? Why?
Has your own pain been denied? That’s often the root cause of a lack of empathy.
Once I began to acknowledge my own pain—events and feelings that I had minimized, as a coping mechanism—I had way more empathy for other people. We all need acknowledgement, on some level.
Start by acknowledging yourself. Or start by acknowledging others. Whatever feels more natural for you. Eventually, aim for both.
This is how we individually and collectively heal.