“Find the gift in your pain” (How to Gaslight the Injured, Ill, and Suffering)

August 12th, 2022

“Your job is to find the gift in this” was the advice he offered.

I was suffering from debilitating illness, could no longer do the things I loved, or eat the things I enjoyed, or go the places I wanted to go. I was overwhelmed, exhausted, everything hurt, and it all just fucking sucked.

I regretted sharing my experience so vulnerably in that moment with this “spiritually evolved” acquaintance I knew, and realized I needed to be more mindful of who I shared my experience with next time.

I realized he didn’t know me, see me, or get what I was going through at all. How could he? 

Although I smiled and expressed appreciation (I know he meant well), I politely ended the conversation. But, I later felt a quiet kind of rage rise inside of me as I thought about it. The rage of this bullshit idea that we are supposed to be in a constant state of thinking positively (i.e looking for the gift) no matter what. It’s so repressive and damaging. I can’t tell you how many times I see it in my clients who qualify their honest feelings and truths by first saying: “I know I shouldn’t feel this way but…”

There is time and space for finding the value in our challenges. Absolutely. But, to offer this advice to someone WHILE they are still bleeding is unbelievably tone deaf.

Instead, try holding space. Try being curious and asking questions. Try asking if there’s anything you can do or what might be helpful.

A lot of people are hurting now. Let’s be mindful of handing out unwanted advice and spiritual platitudes to those that are hurting. A little compassionate listening (even if you can’t relate) goes a long way. 


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