It can be hard comforting a friend, and it can be even harder when they’re the type who often ‘blow things out of proportion’. And there is always 1 thing, in my experience, that makes their blood boil. Clichés. Common sayings. Overused quotes. Repeatable comfort words.
“It’s going to be okay.”
“There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.”
“Follow your heart.”
“Feel better soon.”
The issue with clichés is that no matter how heartfelt you are, the words fall flat and lose color to someone who’s heard it all before. Despite what you believe and how much you believe it, a person will almost take offense to the words “cheer up”, “breathe”, “its going to be okay”, “it gets worse before it gets better”, the list goes on.
When someone’s in a dark place, they search for someone that understands what they feel. They don’t find that in the minutiae of casual sayings people tell to as an easy fix to someone’s depression, sometimes without intending to.
It just feels normal to let someone know, “hey, the pain is temporary” when they’re feeling blue. Even if it’s true, and you’re right, it doesn’t actually solve their feelings, does it? Have these words actually come to your mind when you’re arguing with someone? Perhaps when you’re fighting an addiction, when you’re dealing with an illness, or when depression hits you everyday? There may be some, but the vast majority of people I’ve encountered never think first about some quote from Les Brown asking us to “shoot for the moon”. Rather, the first thing that comes to mind is how others have dealt with their situation.
Psychologically, I think this is because our society has become obsessed with comparing ourselves to others. Whether or not this is good or bad, that’s where we stand psycho-analytically.
You don’t always need to be truly profound either, with sayings like “the man who wishes to rebuild the world, starts with himself” from Langston Hughes, you don’t need to be quite on that level. What people search for is that you can relate to them. As simple as “I’m here for you.” “I know what you’re going through.” Even those in themselves are cliché, but they address exactly what someone wants to hear. The assurance that they aren’t alone, and not only that, that they’re understood. For most, there is no greater comfort.