Think Before You Speak: Four Common Hurtful Comments (And What to Say Instead) (OPINION)

I think as a whole, everyone is guilty of doing this: making some sort of comment not realizing it wasn’t in good taste. I know I have, and I appreciate when people bring it to my attention. I can’t change unless I’m told.

That said, I still see and get careless comments. Here’s four of them with an alternative.

You should/need to [activity] more.
Get out? Relax? Walk? Socialize?

Here’s the thing: I know. Trust me, whatever thing you believe I should be doing more of I’ve either attempted with poor results, or strait up cannot due to my state. I’m doing everything in my power to improve said things. This comment usually comes from a good place, but the majority of the time is said in passing and isn’t taken all that well. It also absolves any responsibility of the one who makes the comment.

What I wish would be said: Hey. I’m [activity]. Wanna come? / I heard about this [activity]. Thought of you instantly and wanted to let you know.
Instead of telling someone what to do with passive sympathy, this demonstrates active empathy. A person sees I may be struggling and they normally go for a walk for 30 minutes after supper. Inviting me with no expectations will tick a bunch of those you shoulds one may be thinking about (socialize, exercise, get sun etc.). Guess what? If you choose activities that don’t involve money, it doesn’t put the asker out as the activity was already planned in the first place.
Too involved? Then, the second option. Come across some poster and think about someone who may benefit? Let them know. Caveat: don’t stop asking/telling me because I’ve said no. With enough encouragement and invitations, people do take risks. The simple act of getting an invitation means a lot when times are rough. Just, don’t push it past that sentence. Let me decide.

Kindness in gesture is always welcome.

Look who’s finally decided to graced us with their presence?!
There’s variations on this one, and it will usually rear its head from the above. It’s always said in a sarcastic tone. It’s meant to be a joke, but isn’t everyone supposed to be laughing?

When statements like this are made, it invalidates what I’m going through. I hear you haven’t been that bad/you’ve been faking. I feel like an imposter and that I’m crazier than I am. It’s not always me who has control over my mind or body. In turn, I’ve ended up hurting myself by showing up to events to prove to said people that yeah, I’m a hot mess. In the past, I used to drug myself up on prescription pills that I can’t really say I was there. I know, I know. I shouldn’t have to prove anything. Some people out there don’t believe until they see. That, and I believe it was a mistake to go. I am burdensome, aren’t I?

What I wish would be said: So glad you made it!
Saying encouraging statements like the one above shows a small bit of understanding. Hearing that from people reminds me that I have silent support (imagined or real), and that yeah, I have some worth. I was able to overcome whatever I was dealing with and it’s been recognized. Thank you, it means a lot.

Are you really disabled/do you know that’s a handicap spot?
Hi there. I’m Swiggy. I’m in my early 30’s and have a handicap lanyard in my name that I hang in my car on days where I can barley move, but still need to get things done. I can legally park in these spots and only do so when absolutely necessary. Thanks to getting this comment thrown at me numerous times (at least once a month), I’ve hurt myself in exchange to save my mental sanity. I’m getting better at not listening to these comments, but at the beginning it was rough.

What I wish would be said: Nothing.
News flash: some disabilities are invisible, and they affect younger people. It’s not my mum’s pass, and I’m far from lazy.

But, you must be getting better? Right?/But you were fine last week.
Ah, no. In general, that’s not how anything chronic works. You have windows of wellness, but they’re very brief and unpredictable. When it comes to withdrawing of a psychotropic drug, my symptoms are all over the place and not at all predictable. When hearing this question after I’ve explained myself (even from practitioners), I feel like a failure. Sometimes, it spins me into hopeless suicidal ideation. It isn’t going to get better, is it?

Adding additional pressure to an already stressful time kills the little morale I have.

What I wish would be said: What are some things that are working? / Seems things are a bit rough right now.
Changing the subject to remind me what is working keeps hope alive. It also shows active listening. If it turns out that nothing in that point in time seems to be working (or my symptoms are clouding my judgment), not forcing me to come with something is also appreciated. Remarking on resilience is always a good way to put an end to the conversation.

Do you have any comments said your way where you wish something was said in its place? Lemme know in the comments.

May the fourth be with you.

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