How To Help Those Who Are In Pain (And Everyone's In Pain)
In case you haven't noticed, people are walking around with enormous amounts of pain.
Some people do a good job of hiding it. Others let it out in the most obvious of ways. But a lot of us cover it up without even knowing it.
We mask ourselves in our careers, hobbies, ambitions, relationships, and lifestyles. We're so deeply entrenched in our stories and external situations, that we're unaware of the pain until it becomes strong enough to break through.
In contrast to most of my articles where I talk about your own journey within, this discussion deals with your interaction with others. Specifically, how do we interact with others who are in pain?
Where I went wrong
All throughout my life (and still to this day, albeit to a lesser degree) when someone experienced pain around me - whether it was anger, sadness, or a brief moment of psychosis - I tended to meet them with a similar energy.
Sad about something? I'd get sad. Angry about something? Now I'm angry. Yelling at me? I might not yell back outwardly, but I'm screaming inside.
No matter what the pain looked like, I'd find myself delivering it back to them. Now I know why, and I'm here to tell you, it's not the most productive way to deal with a person who's in pain.
When you react to negativity with negativity, not only does it make you miserable inside, but it clouds every action thereafter that you put into the world. It takes away your ability to then help that person. It multiplies the pain. If you're wise, you realize that your response to their anger is coming from the same place - your deeply rooted pain.
It doesn't matter if it's a coworker, an intimate partner, or the cashier at the grocery store; anger never solves problems. It only makes matters worse - for you, for the other individual, and for everybody - because you're polluting the environment with that negative energy.
No amount of anger can fuel you to constructively solve a problem. It has to be done with compassion and love. Otherwise you're not solving the problem, you're just trying to change something in the outside world so that you no longer feel angry in your inside world.
In fact, so much of our behavior, unbeknownst to us, comes from the pain we store. I'm grateful to be waking up to this truth now and sharing it with you.
How to interact with someone who's in pain
When people get nasty towards you, take a moment to pause. Ask yourself where their bitterness is coming from. You'll realize that it's always coming from the same place - pain. That person is hurting, and they need your compassion.
It may not be obvious in the moment. If they're screaming at you, it's typically not your first reaction to be compassionate and understanding. If they're criticizing you beyond reasonable professionalism (that is, they're clearly using emotion rather than reason), then they're in pain.
Situations don't make us angry or sad. They trigger anger and sadness that's already stored inside of us. Realize that people are carrying this negative baggage around with them wherever they go, effectively making them a ticking time bomb. It's not personal. Know this. Be aware of this. Be compassionate.
Think about it the other way. The times that you've blown up on someone, did they really deserve it? Or were you just carrying around so much stored pain that they gave you an excuse to let it out?