I see platitudes being shared online so much these days as if they are the answer to life. Often I shake my head in disgust, knowing that the words can cause more harm than good.
Sure, a platitude can be inspiring and give hope. It can be positive and uplifting which may help in some situations, but it is not what heals. If you boil things down into a simple statement, you’re really making life so simple that it’s just not reality.
It Wasn’t The Platitude That Healed Me
When I have gone through some of the most difficult moments of my life, it wasn’t the platitude that healed me. In fact, the person most helpful was the one that did not do this.
Sometimes I see people put out these simplified platitudes that act as if they have the answers to life. Often they are so insensitive that they kick dirt upon those struggling. Let’s be a support not a piece of dirt to others— Don Shetterly (@mindbodythought) September 21, 2019
If you haven’t been through the most difficult of challenges, realize that a platitude may be hurtful and degrading. It may sound rosy and pretty. It may sound like how you put it in perspective, but to the person hurting it can feel like an insult.
Healing And Growth Is A Process
When people deal with horrible experiences, their healing and growth is a process. It requires that they go in and feel it and touch their innermost sorrow so they can let go of it and move forward. A platitude just delays that and makes the process tougher.
In my life, I have found that someone who holds my hand and walks through the fire with me is more helpful than the platitude-spewing one. If we don’t know what it is like for the person that is hurting, the best thing we can do is walk through it with them.
In healing sessions where I’ve made the most progress, we focus on what I’m feeling. This is not from a mind perspective but from a body sense. We do not focus on what platitude might inspire me. The healing happens when I feel what is happening in my body and the individual helps me walk through it.
I’m not saying you can’t have your platitudes and inspiration. They have their place in the overall context of life, not in place of it. If they are shoved at everyone as if they are the only truth, they become toxic arrows piercing and shattering the healing progress.
The Person That Walks Through The Fire
Be the person that walks through the fire and holds the hand of another, without knocking their feet out from under them. Be the person that listens without having to tell someone what they should do. Let them be heard as they piece their lives together.
Be the person who tries to encourage by doing it through a listening ear, not one of regurgitated platitude rhetoric that has little value. Pain does not need a cheerleading squad. It needs time and comfort and support. It needs to know there is a support system so it can stretch and weave new tissue of healing to fill in the gap left behind.
Platitudes are often so unconscious. Even if we don’t understand that, we need to realize that this is true. An individual with greater consciousness will be there for someone. They do not shove these statements in the face of another who’s trying to learn to stand again.
Before you shove the next platitude at someone, stop and think if it is as helpful as you think it is. Step into their shoes and see if there is as much to it as you think there is. More often it is not as helpful.
Use caution when propagating these things online because you can so easily negate what someone is going through. You can cause them greater harm when they just need someone to reach out a hand. Sometimes that is all we need in healing. Just to know the other person is there.
A very good article.