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Misery loves company

Most people are brought up with the belief that its wrong to share feelings of grief with others. Parents and people who shape our behavior in childhood sometimes wrongly discourage exhibiting our sadness. An example could be a mother telling her son, “Brave boys don’t cry when they get hurt.” or that “You’re grown up now, stop acting like a baby and wipe your tears.” This results in the child associating feelings of shame in showing that he is hurt or grieving and keep things bottled up. He feels like he should always keep a stiff upper lip and act tough in face of all catastrophes. Have you ever met someone who always smiles when he talks about something horrible that has happened to him? Someone who always seems to joke about tragic and morbid things?

Society as a whole discourages expression of one’s grief and emotional pain. This inevitably results in the cultivation of a population of emotionally inept people. Well meaning family and friends seldom know what to say or how to respond to a tragedy. Being grown up is taken to mean that you should be able to take anything in a stride. It’s considered effeminate for men to express grief and pain. Does being an adult mean you’re not supposed to feel? Does showing vulnerability make you less of a man? Pretending that something tragic hasn’t happened has become ‘normal’. Covering up anxiety, fears and feelings of despair is preferred and is the more ‘proper’ and ‘sensible’ thing to do. Not crying at the death of a loved one is considered the more ‘dignified’ way to grieve. Not dealing with pain has become the way to deal with it. This ‘normal’ is nothing but abnormal and people think its acceptable because that’s what everyone is doing. It’s important to realize that a person can never run away from emotional pain. It always catches up and manifests itself in the strangest of ways. Depression, aches and pains, phobias and personality disorders are just a few of the endless problems that come to mind. You can’t wish away anguish.

Since there are so many of us out there, not talking about our grief and sadness, it wrongly inculcates the belief that we are alone in how we feel. This misconception does nothing but add to our pain. Especially, since other depressed people assume that we are happier than we are. Happier than they are. This can lead to feelings of isolation and resentment. People can go around feeling that ‘everyone has it better than us’. Misery does love company and there is a great comfort in knowing that we are not alone in our pain. So parents tell your kids its OK to cry if they feel like it. And don’t feel shame in crying yourself. Don’t belittle someone else’s problems and imagine them to be trivial compared to your own. Everybody hurts sometimes. 🙂


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Why do some people like to inflict pain?

This is a question that I have been trying to find the answer to practically all my life. I have come across a lot of people who simply live to hurt someone. I am not going into the topic of physical violence or psychotic behavior in this article. I am just talking about normal, everyday people that you either know personally or randomly run into at a bus stop, at work or even at social gatherings. They are everywhere. People who seem to emanate a lot of negative energy. They generally have a frown on their face and it seems that the only thing that can make them smile from the heart is to humiliate or emotionally torment someone. They live to get a one up in a conversation, to make a nasty personal comment/joke about someone, to start a fight or confrontation, or to get the last word in. They can turn the energy of the room around and make it uncomfortable. They live to cause misery and discomfort in others because it gives them a psychological pay off. This ‘pay off’ is so gratifying and rewarding that it continues to reinforce this behavior until it becomes a primary trait in their personality.  The rush and joy they get from behaving this way encourages them to repeat such behavior. They relish conflict and can only achieve inner peace by going to war.

Why do some people become this way? From what I have come across in various books and articles it seems that these people often feel very isolated and angry.  Perhaps they have had many painful experiences themselves in their lives. Maybe they view intimidating behavior as frightening and have been dominated and scared into submission in the past. As a result they realize that a feeling of being superior can only be maintained by putting others down. ‘They won’t hurt me, if I hurt them first.’ They are so frustrated  that they feel its their right to get angry rather than to deal with their own feelings. They like to portray the image that they don’t care or that they don’t need anyone, when in fact they are very shy and sensitive inside. The keep people at a distance by projecting negativity and are threatened by affection and caring relationships.If someone reaches out and tries to be genuinely affectionate and caring they reject that person and his intentions.

Now you may say we all get like that sometimes and that it’s not necessarily a big deal. Yes we all have had times when we have lashed out in frustration or had fun at the expense of someone else. Sometimes we all feel angry and get aggressive. In most relationships that’s the only way people know how to be with each other. But if this behavior starts to become our dominant behavior, our reflex way of thinking and eventually a way of life, then it’s a problem. If a person feels that he is entitled to hurt others because he has been victimized in the past and uses this way to cope with life, something is very wrong. Eventually this becomes so much of a habit that the person stops seeing good in anyone and anger and resentment becomes his primary emotion. They often feel like victims themselves and reach the conclusion that they can only feel better by victimizing someone else. It is said that Hitler felt that he and his nation were the victims of the European Jewry. The truth is that no one can put an end to this behavior than the person himself. And usually that doesn’t happen because there are too many people out there encouraging it. All we can do is guard our own thoughts and not become part of the cycle of toxicity.

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