Thursday, June 18, 2015

Big Girls Don't Cry: How to Comfort a Crying Friend

"Tomorrow, my friend won't cry."

I'm for living in the moment as much as possible, and I've found that one way to do that is to imagine a future time when your problems don't exist. It's not a goal. It's not pretend. It's acceptance: This thing that sucks right now, it's okay. It's just for now.

Tomorrow Makes It Better Art Print
Art Prints curated from Society6
One way I've applied this philosophy is in working with toddlers. There's a trick that helps when they're being naughty where you say, "That's okay. When you're 4 you won't color on the walls anymore." Often, the child's desire to be 4 is enough to get them to stop coloring on the walls.

blowing in the wind Art PrintI immediately thought of that when I cried on the phone to Katie yesterday and she said, "That's okay. It's okay to be scared today. Tomorrow, you'll wake up and you'll feel totally refreshed." I had gotten calls from three separate student loan lenders in a row, and by the third call, I threw up my hands and huffed at them to just email me. (It’s very awkward to attempt politeness while huffing, btw.)

I stayed at a high anxiety level all day. I got stuck in Studio City because every time I tried to drive, I'd start crying again. But I had Katie's promise in my head, "Tomorrow's a new day."

I felt great when I woke up this morning, and I attribute it largely to the power of suggestion.

How to Do It Wrong:

  1. Apply an unrealistic or shaming timeline for the scope of the problem.

For Toddler: "Big girls pee in the potty. I guess you're still a baby." It’s essentially the same thing as my earlier example, but the language of it is more like, “You should be better RIGHT NOW, you loser.”

For Friend: “Don’t worry, your crippling depression will be all gone in the morning.”

  1. Throw cliches at them without addressing the problem.

Calls that it was time to pay back student loans upset me enough to make me cry partly because I had a horrible college experience. Other friends I talked to jumped right to the “Let it go. It’s part of who you are” sayings, and it just made me hate myself. Katie was like, “Yeah, that’s gonna suck to have that reminder every month, but it’s not forever.” Then she gave me advice about loan consolidation. THEN she said the bit about “Tomorrow’s a new day,” when I was ready to hear it.

I don’t cry often. I definitely don’t cry to friends often. But I’m glad I did, because I do feel better. I intend to pay it forward. Much sooner than I'll pay off my student loans.

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