Sometimes, it’s hard to imagine how much pain someone can feel. So many times, people come in my office for support and are in so much emotional pain, both from current events and childhood issues. Sometimes I struggle to remain strong while working with patients, but I know that part of my role is to provide hope that things can get better. When you think about people you love, remember to sometimes look a little closer to find out how they are really doing. Even when you think about strangers, sometimes just a smile can help people whose sadness is deep. Just remember that although you can’t walk a mile in someone’s shoes, you can be a catalyst to help someone feel better.
There are so many reasons that people struggle with sadness and depression. I must admit that sometimes when I inventory past therapy sessions, I struggle at times to understand how horrible things can happen, and how people can treat others so terribly. I talked with people about sexual and physical abuse, both when they were children and as adults. Things are different now than they were many years ago, but there are still cases where family secrets cause so much damage to family members that don’t deserve the pain that they have to endure.
Sometimes movies depict abuse, both physical and sexual abuse. It’s rare, however, that the cinema can capture the emotional depth of the damage done, because in the end it is a script and the people being filmed are usually safe. As I think about past clients, it’s even hard to convey the depth of the pain being so betrayed by people you love can cause. It robs children of developmental milestones and the safety they need to continue to grow. It also makes adults struggle in relationships, use drugs and alcohol to numb the pain, and harm themselves trying to feel better.
As you think about the people around you, think about someone that might need help. We talked about the fact it was okay to say you are not okay, but there are so many people who don’t know how to say they are not okay. They learned early on to assume that no one cares, so they just stopped talking. Sometimes it’s hard for me to really look in someone’s eyes, but it’s important. Really look at your kids and you loved ones. If you ask them how they are doing and they say okay, do they really look okay? Take some time and really pay attention. It’s so easy these days to get caught up in you work, bills, and just the issues in our world and country, but take the time to ask and really hear what people say, even if they don’t say anything.
There is more sadness in our world than we would like to admit. But with support, and caring, there can be less. It’s so easy to be in auto pilot, ask someone how they are and move on without really hearing the answer. Don’t be that person. Stop and really listen to people. Never underestimate just how much a smile can help someone else, even just a passing smile. Smiles are contagious, and helpful when you are trying to be happy for life.