If there’s one phrase that pisses me off more than anything, it’s “it happens to everyone.” You’ve probably heard it before either to someone else or to yourself, or you even said it. I get it, it’s a common phrase and sometimes it’s true. However, there are times when saying that “it happens to everyone” will just diminish anyone’s feelings in a second.
A couple weeks ago I was talking to a friend and going through a rough period, I told them what was going on. I knew that what I was saying does happen to a lot of people but I just needed someone to confide in at the moment and get some type of response from what I was thinking. What ended up happening was that I confided and they responded to me “so, it happens to everyone?” in a relaxed tone and switched the topic to something else.
I remember sitting in awe for a second, I couldn’t even process the other thing the person said because frankly I’ve never had someone just dismiss what I had to say so quickly. When I said I wanted a response, I meant a constructive response, one that you can build a conversation off of--not a flatline answer.
I know my friends aren't therapists and I know some things are hard to give an answer to, but being a friend means listening to others and being supportive. To tell your friend “it happens” or “everyone deals with that” is to say that what they personally experience in their specific scenario doesn’t matter. What is being translated is that you are not any different from the rest of the people out there so suck it up and deal with whatever is happening.
Their situation is different because it relates to them and you know them. Need I remind you that the reason why someone would come up to you and confide in you means they have a level of trust within you and value your opinion? Don’t take advantage of it and disregard what they’re saying. Everyone is different, and in a cry for help, be the person that wants to listen and wants to care. Be responsive, ask questions, give them feedback that could benefit them from either end. If you are going to be a friend, you need to act like it.
People have a hard time responding to others. There are situations where you simply don’t know how to respond and you just stare at them blankly or give them a half-assed response. But the term “it happens to everyone” is a conscious choice to say that something is so generalized it doesn’t matter regardless of the person.
Think before you speak and show that you care. It really does make a difference in how it impacts someone’s life and shows that what you say matters too.