"Everything in nature, whether in the animate or inanimate world, takes place according to rules, although we do not always know these rules." Immanuel Kant
Mental health matters in pleasant and unpleasant times; consequently, you should invest in your mental wellbeing to change your life.
Whose mind is it anyway? The answer to the question seems obvious. Yet, we are reminded not to let others "rent space in our heads" and "let things roll off our backs." It's a question worth exploring, given our tendency to think too deeply, overthink, and overanalyze what others say to us or about us.
Recently, I met a fifty-something who continues to struggle with being told, "you will never amount to anything." The context in which the statement was made is unclear, but the impact on the person's psyche was noticeable. I listened more than I spoke; it appeared the person wanted to do more than just vent. It was a struggle not to respond with "why" or attempt to persuade the person otherwise—a why question may seem appropriate, but it has the potential to backfire. It is not that why questions are totally irrelevant; generally, they provoke defensiveness and resistance in a person. You don't want the person feeling like they have to justify their feelings.
So whether you agree with the person or not is unimportant. Likewise, arguing with the person over what they are feeling is counterproductive. By the same token, resist the temptation to provide a solution for what the person is feeling. It may be more appropriate to listen, although you may be tempted to apply your mental set to what the person is dealing with at the moment. The mental set is our tendency to use the same strategy to solve problems based on what worked previously on similar issues. Approach with caution, don't start with "this is how I solved this same problem once," be mindful this is not your problem to solve.
Worse, oversimplifying the situation by finding some other accomplishment of the person and apply that as a solution to the person's current struggle. Yes, identifying past successes is one way to challenge "you will never amount to anything." Still, it is beneficial to recognize those previous successes are not the presenting problem.
We search for meaning in the many statements directed towards us. Sometimes for longer than is probably necessary. Even confident people save perceived slights from others in their subconscious. It is relevant to unpack the emotional baggage, but the person will move on when they are ready. Not when we decide they should. Sometimes the best thing you can offer is support.
N. B. The contents of this blog post are not prescriptive. The intent is to share information.
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