Did you really Just say that?

BY: MICHAEL LEWIS

Platitudes are defined as a remark or statement, especially one with a moral content, that has been used too often to be interesting or thoughtful.  For example: “The grass is always greener…”

How many times have you shared a very intimate thought, secret or tough time with someone and they answer you with a hollowed-out thoughtless rote  phrase such as that?  Why do people say these things?  What good is going to come from it?  Is there a bit of truth in them?  Do they help you feel better?  Are they all thoughtless?  What do you think?

Let’s go through a list of some favorites in response to an intimate thought.

THOUGHT:  My partner/spouse and I are really going through a tough time – We are thinking about divorce, I’m not sure what to do.  I am horribly sad and scared.

PLATITUDE ANSWER:

The grass is always greener…

Just take one step at a time…

Just keep your head up…

Keep your eyes on the prize…

I know exactly what you are going through…

Just put one foot in front of the other…

You just have pick yourself up by your bootstraps…

You just need to get over it…

It can’t really be that bad, right?

By now you should be feeling your Limbic System pulsating trying to recall a time that you have heard something like that from someone?  Better yet, can you recall a time you responded this way?  Are these typical responses from you?  Your partner?  Your family?  As humans, I think part of our nature is to stop suffering in others and in some cases by any means necessary!  When we see our loved ones suffering or struggling our innate sense is to stop it.  We may give platitudes, while others try to solve/fix the problem or worse yet, just blantantly change the subject completely (which is really about their own discomfort).  What about just keeping quiet and listening?  Wow.  Some concept, huh? Unfortunately, most people don’t like silence either.  Some studies have looked into studying silence and have found it only takes 4 seconds of silence before it becomes the “awkward silence.”   The odd part about that is, sometimes silence is all that is needed, isn’t it?  Most people are so quick to fill the quiet space with noise that there is no place to allow silent contemplation.  Remember, everything comes from silence (nothingness).

Part of our job as humans should be to make a sacred container for our loved ones to allow them to speak freely.  To allow their words to dance on the walls and fly through the air until it finds a nice resting spot – and if the moment calls for a response, maybe ask a question, instead of trying to fix the alleged problem.

Let’s try that thought experiment again:

THOUGHT:  My partner/spouse and I are really going through a tough time – We are thinking about divorce, I’m not sure what to do.  I am horribly sad and scared.

ANSWER: Wow. That’s sounds rough. I can’t even imagine what you are going through.  What do you think the hard time is all about? That is, if you don’t mind sharing some more?  Regardless, I’m here for whatever you need from me.  (NOW JUST LISTEN!)

Cheers

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