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· Cheer up, it can’t be all that bad…
· Come on, cheer up...I’ll get you an ice cream cone.
Many people are uncomfortable with the negative emotions of other people, particularly sadness, depression, and gloominess. We feel helpless in the face of negative emotions. We try to help anyway, by trying to reassure the unhappy person that it’s “not that bad”, or it will pass. It’s all well intentioned, but the problem is it DENIES the sad person’s reality, and there’s a hidden judgment. A sad person IS feeling sad. An angry person IS feeling angry. If you consistently try to lecture someone out of a bad mood, you remove some of the emotional support (empathy and understanding), that the person needs to feel comfortable within the relationship.
The second example appears to be helpful, but it’s not, because an ice cream cone is unlikely to help someone who is unhappy, thus minimizing the person’s emotions, by making them “small”.
Make It Better:
A better course of action is to prove that you understand the person’s emotions, even if you are uncomfortable or feel helpless (you aren’t). For example:
· I know you feel bad right now, and I’d like to do anything I can to help.
Or, offer some “space” to the other person to express their negative emotions:
· It’s OK to feel sad right now, since it’s been a hard time for you.