An Allowance: 'I don't know'

An Allowance: 'I don't know'
Photo by Jon Tyson / Unsplash

Blank space, I am trying to find the right words. The ‘right words’, I wonder. I listen to someone describe a rough day. I pause, I want to let them know they’ll get through this and it will be okay. How do I do this?

I think about how I will never really know how it feels for them to experience a rough day. I learn that my rough day could look very different from a friend’s. I might overcook my lunch, wondering if I would ever be able to perfect cooking. An unassuming thought about my ability cascades to work, shaping my rough day. I am learning how to accept my rough days, acceptance lets me find my way through the rest of my day.

I step back to look at the bigger picture, being unable to cook lunch might seem like a 'silly' reason to be disappointed with, but it is valid. When I approach a friend, I hold hope that I am heard, I want to be seen and acknowledged. When I am on the other side of the conversation, I will attempt to do the same. I try not to assume, question, or belittle what caused their rough day.

“That’s a silly reason to be disappointed about.”
“You’ll get over it. People have bigger problems out there.”

As I write this, I entirely acknowledge my privilege and that there exists suffering outside my own. I hold that awareness close to myself. However, at that moment when I am speaking to someone I trust, I hope to be able to express my disappointment with lunch and feel validated.

Do I hold the expectation that the person I am speaking to understands my disappointment? No, I don’t. I understand that it is okay for someone to not comprehend my rough day, as I would not be able to comprehend theirs.  

“It must have been rough. I don’t know what that feels like. How can I support you through this?”

I find comfort in listening to a friend admit that they do not know. I acknowledge that perhaps, I do not know either. And that you do not always have to offer a solution. You might not even have space to, that is allowed too.

I reflect on why I want to be able to solve and fix rough days, for myself and for others. I remind myself that my admission of not knowing is a form of support too.

Manah Wellness is an employee engagement and wellbeing brand that provides innovative tools and professional support to businesses of all sizes. Founded by wellbeing experts and seasoned entrepreneurs, the company has an experienced team of psychologists and professionals who support individuals and teams with preventive, proactive, and personalized solutions for emotional and mental health, wellness, and professional growth. Manah empowers employees to track, assess, and understand their wellbeing, and how it changes over time. It also enables leaders to make more informed decisions with aggregated and anonymous data.

Manah has supported employees at more than 50 organizations with high levels of employee engagement, and positive feedback from employees on their improved wellbeing. Whether your goal is to lend wellness support to specific team members or to build a company culture that promotes emotional well-being, Manah Wellness has the virtual tools and expertise to support your journey. Get in touch with our team of qualified mental health professionals to discuss your organizational goals, and be part of a growing workplace wellbeing community with Manah."

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