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The Cruelest Three Words: "Get Over It!"

by Judy Ryan

In my work, the greatest setbacks and arrested development of people are connected with a preponderance of intolerance of imperfection, human growth and evolution, including mistakes and failures. A common way many deal with the pain and darkness in life is to say, “Get over it!”

This is a bad idea because we all need to be heard and validated in our pain and mistreatment. When we are dismissed and discussion is avoided or we are shamed, pain gets stuck within us. This happens because many people don’t make listening and validating pain and mistreatment a priority, or do it enough or at all, and that harms many.

Most people have been taught to avoid being with and supporting each other in the darkest places. I think the avoidance of discomfort and preventing one another from sharing pain is itself a virulent form of abuse and neglect that has huge consequences for all of us. The very rejection of our experiences by ourselves and others causes us to be stuck and keeps us from making much-needed progress.

Until we do feel seen and heard, and not with pity but rather with calm presence and willing patience to hear one another fully without being dismissive or callous, we cannot release the painful and limiting past and move forward together as individuals, as brothers and sisters, as neighbors and friends, as co-workers, as community.

As inconvenient, unpleasant and uncomfortable as it is, we will get stronger and better only by allowing ourselves to be with hurt and pain and stay with the need for it to be acknowledged until that acknowledgement is no longer needed. It dissipates more quickly than most ever expect. When we offer permission, release of pain and shame is quick. Not only is this productive but it also inspires our intolerance for any form of abuse and injustice because as we listen deeply, we make friends, and friendship does not happen through avoidance.

Brené Brown, famous researcher on shame and vulnerability, says she is often discouraged from speaking out on shame and other darker topics. She has determined that until shame is part of the U.S. conversation, she will make it a top priority.

That’s similar to my commitment to share the causes of the inferiority complex within people, which comes from conventional conversations and conditions including “Get over it!” These unresolved issues, locked in by unspoken pain, and resultant shame set up uninterrupted struggles within and between. To heal and move on, each must feel visible, understood and reassured.

Being present to the light and the dark both, and fully, is one of the highest forms of love. From a practical standpoint in your business, it is the most productive and profitable thing you can do because it frees up creative energy that would otherwise be blocked. We can do this for one another only when we put down our defenses and our fears that we are guilty and should then be punished. Our presence in the face of darkness will happen only when we care more about listening and reassuring than we do about protecting our comfort and our sense of self and avoiding our own pain.

I hope you’ll read this article considering any callous or impatient parts within you toward you or others. I ask you to put down “Get over it!” if you have been using this. Commit to becoming inspired to be a friend instead. Choose to recognize that many people suffer and have no outlet. For the most part, they don’t need or want pity or rescue or your self-recrimination. They want to be seen and acknowledged and validated. They want your support and partnership in making the world a fair, caring and just place where we can all be part of the solution, not the problem.

Judy Ryan (, human systems specialist, is owner of LifeWork Systems. Join her in her mission to create a world in which all people love their lives. She can also be reached at 314-239-4727.

Submitted 3 years 270 days ago
Categories: categoryThe Extraordinary Workplace
Views: 1168