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10 “Harmless” Comments that Actually Cause Tremendous Pain
We’ve all experienced it.
Someone says something — maybe it makes us feel a little uncomfortable — but for the most part, it seems harmless. Maybe it’s a ‘mock’ threat from your parent “I can make another one just like you” or maybe someone says “Lots of people have it worse off than you.”
These comments, on the surface, are normal enough, but the underlying effects can be detrimental to someone suffering from a mental illness.
For some people, these comments roll off like water on a duck’s back – but for others, these comments ring in their heads even years later.
Comments like “I carried you for nine months, you can do this one thing for me,” can be wielded like a weapon — and when used often enough are a constant verbal reminder of “you owe me”. This is just one example.
Sometimes comments like this can come in the form of a question (Woah. Are you on your period?) Sometimes these comments are offered as a solution. (Just focus on the positive things!) And most often these comments come from a place of ignorance or misunderstanding.
Even if the speaker is trying to come from a helpful place, they often assist in devaluing and invalidating the listener’s struggle.
1. “There are so many people worse off than you.”
Sure, that may be true. But that doesn’t make whatever someone is struggling with any less valid or difficult.
2. “You’re just like your mother/father.”
Many times this can be said as a compliment, but when said in conjunction with their flaws, it can feel like they are equating the person to the worst parts of their parents.
3. “You’re too young to be going through that.”
Mental illness has no age barriers. Nobody knows themselves better than that person, so if someone says they’re feeling something — then it’s a valid feeling.
4. “You’re pretty for a ‘big’ girl.”
Or “You would be so much prettier if…” This backhanded compliment is not a compliment at all and should never be said to anyone ever. Leave it at “You’re pretty!” or nothing at all.
5. “Why can’t you be more like your brother/sister?”
Every person is unique! Comments like this only serve to hurt the confidence of the person this is said to.
6. “I’m sorry your feelings got hurt.”
Comments like this put the blame on the person who was hurt, rather than the person who hurt them. A better apology is “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings.”
7. “Are you sure you want to be [occupation]? That’s a lot of hard work.”
When someone says this to someone else it can make them feel like they aren’t smart enough, strong enough, or tough enough.
8. “You were an accident.”
Reminding someone constantly that they weren’t planned can make them feel unwanted and unnecessary.
9. “I don’t want to be seen with you looking like that.”
This puts so much emphasis on a person’s appearance — which can cause paranoia about what other people think of them and give them anxiety about going out.
10. “You’re just looking for attention.”
99.9% of the time this is untrue. People struggling with mental illness need to be taken seriously. Don’t shrug off what someone is feeling because it makes you uncomfortable. When someone chooses to be vulnerable about what they are going through, don’t shut them down. Comments like that invalidate what someone is going through, and can cause lasting damage.
If you’re struggling with mental illness, keep speaking up! The first step to ending the ignorant comments is to end the ignorance.