I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the phrase “everything is going to be okay”.
I don’t like this phrase. When I want to talk about a problem with someone, and they tell me “everything is going to be okay,” I feel like that’s dismissing my problem. I don’t want to hear it’s going to be okay. I know it’s going to be okay. I’m an optimist. And a control freak. I want to know what I have to do to get to “it’s okay”.
So, I never told anyone it’s going to be okay. Maybe it wasn’t going to be okay! You don’t know. But you gotta say something in lieu of this, so I told people various different ways they could make things okay.
Turns out (shocking!), people don’t like being told things they can do. They’re not telling me their problems because they’re looking for ideas of what to do (if they are, they ask outright). Usually most people already have an idea of what they want to do, they’re just looking for me to either a) validate their idea or b) tell them it’s going to be okay.
This tendency of mine finally got to my boyfriend. For the most part, my friends never really commented on my suggestion-making, probably because it proved I’m a really good listener (always listen, how else can you make suggestions?) and also that I tend to be right (haha). They also got me in smaller doses. My poor boyfriend, on the other hand, was going through a bit of trouble for a while and here I have all these suggestions for you! Take them!! You will be out of trouble in no time at all!!!”
In the interest of keeping the peace with him, I recently tried the whole, “It’s going to be okay” thing. Not going to lie, it felt fake and weird. It felt like I was dismissing his problems. It felt like I didn’t care. But he was so pumped after that little pep talk and, while the thing we were talking about didn’t work out, other things did, and everything did, in fact, turn out okay.
So, new life skill to work on: learning to tell the difference between people who want to hear pep talks, and people who want to hear action items.