Your Problems are not about You

I have a friend whose husband just walked out on her and her three young children. She is barely getting by financially, she has some mountingall the same health issues due to the stress she’s experiencing, and she is caring for an elderly parent.  Her circumstances are tough in a way that I can’t pretend to understand.

We talked for a couple hours the other day and something struck me. Every fearful, disheartened thought she shared, I’ve thought myself at some point.

As she talked about her fears of being a horrible mother, of not living a long, healthy life, and of being alone, I thought, “Those exact same things have passed through my mind”.

Maybe mine don’t stick as much as hers are sticking right now. They don’t look that compelling to me—for the most part—but they certainly have in the past and might again at some point.

There may be a difference in degree, and a difference in how she and I relate to our respective thoughts, but the basic “stuff” is the same.

As she shared what it’s like to wake up feeling okay, only to be paralyzed with fear by lunchtime, bounce back a bit by dinnertime, and be a complete wreck after she puts her kids to bed, I thought about how my moods sometimes do that.

Maybe mine aren’t as extreme. My life is a walk in the park compared to hers right now. But what I find so fascinating is that the underlying experience is so common and so human.

You go through it too, right?

Beyond the degree and the details, we all have the same “I’m a terrible parent/partner/employee” thoughts. And the same “Am I going to make it? What’s going to happen to me?” thoughts. And the same “I should have done x/I should be different” thoughts.

That is not meant to invalidate your pain, but to humanize it and show you how truly impersonal it is.  

At its core, what you’re going through is so very human, and so very temporary. Everyone on earth has gone through their own version of the Exact-Same-Stuff.

What you experience as problems are far less personal than they look.

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