I was trying to tell someone about the workings of my mind and heart. I was trying so very hard to put into precious words what was going on with me. Almost before the syllables fell silent, these words came back to me, "Everyone feels and thinks that way!" I felt quietly slapped, unimportant and made small. I looked away with tears pulling my throat. I decided to say no more as we continued the conversation in another vein.
As a writer, words are very important to me. The common phrase, "Everyone thinks and feels that way" is a slippery slope that leads to excused living. If not spoken in actual words, the broad-ranged platitude of what these words invoke anchors us ever more firmly in a mire of thoughtlessness and non-engaged behavior that is basic in much of our daily lives. These words--and the truth we want them to so conveniently hold--are actually insane and soul-killingly invalid.
We can have no knowledge about how everyone thinks or how they feel. In essence--when we get down to the nitty-gritty of things--we can only really know what we think and feel about anything. And with our mass-media, Gucci bagged, popular-brand culture, many of us have few clues about what we individually think and feel about a lot of things. We have abdicated our thoughts, emotions, insights and imaginations to a dream woven from the trending tables of ad agencies and the money minds of Wall Street.
After being confronted by the "Everyone thinks and feels that way!" mantra three more times in one 24-hour period, I've spent the last few days taking a hard look at how this phrase--this big-brush of non-thinking and excusing--can distract me, dement me and delusion me. These words that we so frequently utter in an attempt to comfort and include, quite often do just the opposite. They hurt, minimize and excuse.
What are we really saying when we say, "Everyone feels and thinks that way"? If we are willing to pull this literal lollapalooza apart, there are some very interesting, pretty painful and more than scary things going on. This phrase offers us an excuse for not paying attention to what we are doing, thinking and feeling. We want to hide from the truth by pulling the whole human race on board as our mass-market permission slip. But it doesn't really work!
If everyone thinks and feels the same way, then:
1. My thoughts and feelings of confusion and despair in life don't matter. I don't have to take a stand for my soul's creativity or be bravely responsible for my own truth. It's not necessary for me to rock the boat of routine living, because I have nothing that is personal or original to add to the human experience. I am simply taking up space--a part of the common collective. Why the hell am I even here? Don't think about it. Everyone feels and thinks that way!
2. That I hate my job and I spend 10 hours every day doing something that hurts my spirit is the price of admittance to the insanity of our stressed out and detached ways of living. I get to join the rest of humanity who lives for the weekend and spends the rest of their time thinking about it. I'm part of the "everyone" crowd, regretting my life as I struggle to pay off the credit cards that I maxed out trying to cover up the fact that my life makes no sense. Let's call in sick. Everyone feels and thinks that way!
3. It's socially acceptable for me to abuse my body and hide my soul in a bottle of beer or a prescription drug container. I don't have to acknowledge that the only way I can get through each day is by numbing myself because I am too scared to ask the questions that really count. Who am I? What do I want? What am I passionate about? I can't stand living this way anymore. Ah, not to worry. Everyone feels and thinks that way!
4. When someone brings up a hurt they need to share, I get to dodge sideways and deflect their pain. I get to avoid offering compassionate listening and an open heart, because what this person is telling me hits too close to home and is too difficult for me to deal with. I can assure them--and myself--that it's all okay. What they're feeling isn't really personal or important. Everyone feels and thinks that way!
5. I don't have to face my pain and hurt as the push point of inner growth. I can put it all in a handy-dandy plastic storage bin and set it aside. It's just fine for me to ignore my soul as it's knocking on my head and heart asking to be heard, felt and understood. Hey, you don't happen to have one of those new super-fast mood elevator pills, do you--the ones that the drug companies are making millions on? Everyone feels and thinks that way!
The idea that "everyone thinks and feels that way!" is mind-numbing and soul-deadening social lie. I believe it is time for us to deeply consider what we really think and feel about who we are and how we are choosing to live our lives--and to then honor these truths. We have so very few hours on this earth. To live them within some "made-up" version presented to us by the media, a plotline laid down by our personal histories or the demands of who others want us to be, is not why we are here.
Our journey upon this earth is meant to be one of awakened consciousness that is rich with love, joy, shared laughter and the growing pains that engaged living demands. To choose not live within the questing curiosity and spirit-powered wonder of who we can be, is a sad and terrible loss--for ourselves and for all those who walk this planet beside us.
To live within the miracle of a potent and self-good life starts with me asking, "What do I really feel and think?" Whatever my answers are, they are totally allowed--because I don't have to think and feel like anyone but me.
Robin Korth enjoys interactions with her readers. Feel free to contact her at email@example.com or on Facebook.
To learn about her new book, "Soul on the Run," go to: www.SoulOnTheRun.com
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
If you're struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.
Need help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.