How Others Feel Your Pain

How Others Feel Our Pain

Our Pain Can Isolate Us, While Hurting Those Close to Us

Others can feel your pain.

I was at a dinner party recently. The host, a good friend of mine is a wonderful cook. She had planned this meal with great care. But during the evening, before the meal was ready, she began to get increasingly uncomfortable. She was worried about the main dish and whether it would be cooked through. She was also stressed about a side dish that took too much preparation in the last minute. I could feel her panic, and so could her son.

Her son asked me if I knew what was wrong with his Mom. I knew she was struggling to make sure everything turned out right. But even knowing this and understanding her, it still didn’t help her child. He was worried that he might have done something, or that she was mad at him or something else was happening with her. He didn’t know what was bothering his Mother because she wasn’t saying anything either. This lack of understanding then left him feeling uncomfortable too.

Being Upset Makes it Hard to Communicate

We can have trouble communicating, closing ourselves off from the world. That's part of how others feel your pain.

When we are uncomfortable about something, sometimes the last thing we want to do is talk about it. I totally get this. When I am upset, that’s what I am: upset. I am not communicating about it or telling others what happened. So, I completely understand my friend when she can’t say a word about what’s happening to her.

But a problem develops–one that she probably isn’t even aware of. And maybe this happens to many of us. When we are in pain or discomfort and we hide from others, we may think we are invisible, but we are not. If this describes you, take a moment to think about the impact you have on others.

Your Pain Spreads, Even When You Don’t Want It To

Others feel your pain spread from you to them, through empathy and inability to make us feel better.

My friend’s mood, her inability to be open about what was on her mind created a mystery for everyone else around. Everyone felt her withdrawal from the evening. Everyone felt her fade from her normal self.

When you pull in all your energy, your good will, your good nature, your spark for life, you do something to change the way you come across to others. People can feel when someone is happy. They can also feel when someone is not even present. If you are someone who pulls in and waits until you feel better to come back to your normal self, take this next moment and think about what it might feel like to be around you when you are in your discomfort.

I know for my friend’s son it was anguish. He didn’t know if his Mom was mad. He thought she was, and then he wondered if she was mad at him. She wasn’t, she was mad at herself because of the difficulty of the dinner. But no one knew this, and those who love her are left to wonder, did I do something wrong?

Want to Open Up and Help Those Around You Feel Less Pain?

Read a Book About Relationships

'Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship.' A book by Linda Nusbaum.

Learn how you and your partner can better communicate in the face of pain and upset by reading Linda’s book, Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship. It might help you keep communication channels open, so that you can both feel more loved and supported by one another, when you’re going through tough times. Give it a read.

Get Couples Counseling

Come in for couples counseling. Couples counseling can help you and your loved one get the most out of your relationship. It'll equip you with coping strategies and tools for communication that can help you argue less and love more.

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