“It’s not so bad” or “It could be worse!” How many times have you said, or thought, this about what you are feeling or experiencing? Does it help?
I doubt it. While it might very well be true that it could be worse, the statement is a form of emotional invalidation and isn’t helpful. Instead of rejecting, judging or ignoring our feelings, by keeping an open mind we can more accurately deal with them.
When we invalidate our feelings or those of others, we indicate that those feelings don’t matter. Instead of managing a situation, we simply try to ignore that it even exists. Just like driving down a road without looking at the signs will eventually lead to trouble, so will navigating life without incorporating our feelings. If we don’t deal with the small things, we won’t deal with the big ones either, and we definitely won’t see them coming. Instead of nipping them in the bud, we wait until the situation can be ignored no longer. By then it’ll be much more difficult to manage and cause more pain and suffering (and will probably have caused more pain to ourselves and others along the way). Continued emotional invalidation will lead us to eventually begin hiding what we really feel, which can seriously damage our self-esteem. Our feelings are an integral part of who we are. If we don’t feel comfortable being open about them then we can never be fully present or ourselves.
Before we can do anything about a situation we must first seek to understand. If we can’t even observe, how can we possibly understand? Instead of minimizing (or exaggerating) our feelings, we should bring a curious, open mindset to each and every feeling. Instead of saying “it’s not so bad. You don’t have to be here feeling,” ask “why are you here?”