Pet peeve of the day. Consolation.
Maybe I’m being a bit ridiculous, but I genuinely dont want to be made to feel better. At least not the way you think.
There is a verse which says “Do not comfort your friend while his dead lie before him.” The point being, it doesnt help. No one wants to be made to feel better when an event or situation is still current or raw. A good friend will not actively try to comfort, but rather just listen and be sympathetic, which in my opinion makes a much more substantial difference to how you’re feeling.
One of the most grating sentences ever uttered is, “may that be the worst thing that ever happens to u!” This tends to be said when you’re particularly upset over an event which may not be in truth, earth shatteringly important. No one has died, no great financial loss has been incurred. But do you know what? I’m still upset.
What is basically belittling my sadness and telling me the equivalent of ‘worse things happen,’ is not only ridiculous (because yes, of course worse things happen than missing my bus / losing my oyster card / waiting half an hour for a tardy friend [can you tell I don’t drive?]) but frankly unhelpful. Did you think I was going to jump out of my misery, exclaiming “wow, I forgot about all those starving kids in Africa, I’ll cheer up now”?
Aside from the uselessness of that comment, it is also extremely condecsending. It suggests that nothing more important has ever happened in your life that could compete with your trauma of the day. Which is obviously not true. You dont need a degree in sociology to be aware that it’s the little things which throw us into a tailspin of moodiness, wheras real life crisis normally summons strength and composure we didnt know we possessed.
It seems to be obvious and so easy to me that when someone is upset, they genuinely just want to hear, “I’m so sorry, that must be so hard for you.” Whether a big life event or a trivial occurence, if someone is in a bad mood, that’s the way it is! Why should we have to be ‘talked out’ of it?
I’ve found that a lot more men are guilty of this than women. I think this theory heads back to caveman times. Men, as ‘Hunter-Gatherer-Provider’ types, have an inbuilt desire to ‘fix’ problems. Even when there is nothing to fix. Most of the time, when us poor ‘Frail Weak’ woman types have a problem, all we really want is a shoulder to cry on. Someone to tell us that we look pretty and offer to punch whoever/whatever was mean to us. (Calm down feminists, I’m hyperbolising, but you get my point.) When men cant fix, they get jittery at being asked to use their more emotional side to -Gasp- listen to us and be sympathetic.. so they tend to keep trying to fix, long after it’s clear they can’t unburn the lasagne for you, and you just need a good wail.
I’m sure I dont speak for all people-kind. I suppose there are folks out there who hate even the smallest amount of wallowing, and would prefer to be snapped out of their bad moods immediately upon occurence, and if a solution is out there, they want everyone in their lives on ‘fixing mode’ until it’s sorted.
I will have to apologize to you for my generalisation via this blog, as I wouldnt want to meet with that much good-naturedness face to face.