I overheard these conversations recently:
“You should not complain about your work, many people do not have a job…”
“You should enjoy your pregnancy, many people can’t get pregnant…
“You should be happy, many people don’t have a home…”
“You should spend more time with your daughter to build a bond…”
“You should not spend too much time with your daughter because you need to have your own life…”
Fair enough, many people struggle to find work, struggle to build a family, struggle to find shelter, struggle to put food on the table for their families. Yet, I find no direct logic to: “therefore, you should be able to cope with your life and issues.”
What is considered stressful for some might look like a silly thing for others. However, everyone has his or her own limits.
There must be some perspective: we need to be grateful and thankful for what we have. Yet, if we find that there is a problem, we need to confront the challenge in our space, our time, and in a way that is appropriate for us and the context.
I have a personal sensitivity, and bias against these two phrases of “should” and “should not. When I was younger, I was told I should eat more, do this, don’t do that, but never given an explanation why. Even when I was hot and sweaty, I was told I “should” keep my sweater on. Even when I was puking with having eaten too much food, I was told I “should” finish my plate. I did not understand why.
When we hear these seeming complaints, empathy would urge us to stop for a moment, and try to understand what was behind such statements.
Was work too much to cope with? Too much travelling? Not fulfilling?
Was pregnancy stirring up physical ailments, inducing anxiety?
What caused the unhappiness by some other hidden apprehensions? Was depression creeping up?
Are these “complaints”, calls for help for the iceberg we can’t see hidden beneath sea level?
Who are we to tell others how they should be feeling or not?