... and the Number One way to bring them out into the open.
Is this you sometimes?:
- You hold it all together until the last person is out of the house and then you break down crying. Life is too hard. You think, “How can everyone else be doing so well but I am failing? What is wrong with me?”
- You get ready for work and show up determined to have a good day. But then your annoying colleague punches all the wrong buttons and you slump at your desk for the rest of the day unable to really focus. You snap at others, and you wonder why everyone else is successful while you are struggling.
- You put on a brave smile and find the energy to get your kids ready for school. You drop them off at school and then find all your energy goes with them as they skip to their classroom. You think, “How does everyone else stay so focused and happy?Why am I so alone?”
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Here’s the deal: You are not alone.People all around you think these thoughts and feel like giving up, all the time. Others that smile at you in public later go home and sit in a chair and cry, or yell at others, or just go back to bed.
Life can be hard. We may be grieving for loved ones who died. We may be struggling in a marriage. We may be missing children who are off doing their own things. We may be torn by hurtful comments from people we thought were friends. We may be facing a serious illness. We may be worried about family members who are destroying their lives. We may be struggling to be patient with work colleagues who make our lives miserable and there is nothing to be done about it. The list goes on.
No wonder we get down.
You cannot avoid having trials in life. What you can do is learn to reach out to at least one other person so you do not feel so alone.
When we keep our pain and grief tapped down, it will seep out the cracks in ways we don’t always recognize. It helps to have a friend or support person who will listen. You don’t need everyone to understand, but one person listening can do wonders.
When we feel shame or guilt, it helps to share thoughts with someone else, because keeping our shame and doubts hidden only allows them to grow. By voicing those thoughts or asking questions about why you are "the only one" struggling, you can get them into the light of day and realize that they are less powerful when they're not hidden in the dark. When you have the right person to share those struggles, you often learn that he or she also has trials. We connect and realize that we are not the only ones hurting. This person may be a friend, family member, clergy member, counselor, co-worker, or support group member.
Finding a good person to confide in can be hard, but keep trying. Be willing to show some vulnerability. You may be surprised to learn that the other person needs a friend, too. And if you try reaching out to people only to be hurt by them, understand that they may be hurting even more deeply than you and not able to connect at that level. Protect yourself from them in the future, but don’t give up on humanity.
Reach out to people in person, not just on social media. You might also connect with people through helping others in difficult situations. You don’t even need to share your specific struggles. By helping others, we can feel better about our situations.
Connecting with others will not magically take away all your problems. They are small steps. They are moments to help us catch our breath. And even though it is hard to believe, those people next to you who seem so confident and happy need others, too. They also have doubts and trials.
You are not alone—and you have gifts and support to share with others. Take a chance and reach out.