Minimizing your Troubles can be Harmful to Your Health

It’s easy to minimize what is troubling you. Just look at the news and you see the current disaster(s) that has happened. You see and hear about people who have lost their homes, lost members of their families or are recovering from injuries from serious accidents.

You can always find someone who is worse off than you.

Let’s say that you and a friend are in a car accident and you are both injured. Your friend has two broken arms and two broken legs. You have a dislocated index finger. She is much worse off that you are. Of course your friend will get treatment for her injuries. But that does not mean you are not in pain. That does not mean you do not get treatment. If you do not get treatment your index finger will continue to bother you, causing you pain and discomfort. It will not heal properly and will hamper your ability to use your hand for a lifetime.

People often dismiss what is bothering them. They tell themselves that they should not let such small troubles bother them because other people are worse off. This is effective when people truly let go. Then their vulnerable feelings dissipate. However, it is more common that people ignore their feelings, pushing them to the back of their minds. The feelings do not dissipate; they are parked somewhere in the brain.

As life goes on and more of these times happen, more vulnerable feelings build up in the brain like a stack of coins piling up. Each situation by itself is not a big deal. But when circumstances do not change and feelings accumulate, little things grow into bigger things. One day, a small event happens, and the reaction to it is over the top. Others do not see the stacking up of the smaller events; they only see the over reaction to the one small event. They judge. They criticize. They blame.

Example:

Randy and Paula had planned a Get-away-weekend. Randy had really been looking forward to getting away. He needed the break from the project he was working on at work. Paula became sick and they had to cancel. He brushed off his disappointment because, after all, it wasn’t any one’s fault. There was nothing that could be done about it. He looked after Paula throughout the weekend.

On Monday when he got back to work he still could not get the project to go the way he wanted. By Tuesday he was frustrated and disappointed. He blew up at one of his co-workers. The co-worker felt blindsided by the intensity of Randy’s anger and refused to work with him.

People fear that if they allow themselves to feel their feelings they will get worse. The opposite is true. When people allow themselves to feel what they feel, they recover quickly – much more quickly than if they suppress their feelings. Then there is no backlog of feeling that can cause problems later, perhaps when you least expect it.

You are entitled to feel what you feel. It is healthy to feel what you feel. What is is. If you are sad, feel sad. If you are hurt, feel hurt. If you are lonely, feel lonely. Breathe through your feelings.

Allowing yourself to feel what you feel often leads to appropriate action.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea Mackay

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