The Pain behind Everyone’s Smile


If you’ve ever felt sad, pressured, lonely, unsure or in emotional shock about a certain relationship circumstance, you belong among the group of people who are sensitive, caring and aware of themselves and others.

Instead of defensive criticism of another person when you hurt inside, or ignoring or dismissing your feelings you likely see perspective and nuance of a situation, are willing to accept your part, as well as recognize which circumstances developed from unforeseen conditions.

Alongside this inner reality is the outside one of daily life functioning and activity.

If while you shopped for a new computer and during the chitchatting banter with the salesperson trying to convince you to buy the most premium item, you described feeling devalued and betrayed by someone whom you considered trustworthy, all action would stop and both you and the salesperson would have no idea of what to do next.

Social expectations during daily transactional reality requires we talk about weather and traffic, not anything meaningful.

Healthy psychological and emotional reality requires we absorb and process the way our interactions with key others feel and affect us.

In the computer store it is necessary to smile over your pain.

In life it is necessary to know your feelings beneath the smile.

The risk each person faces is to pretend their outer life is the same as their inner world.

Disappointment, feeling unloved, mischaracterized, unheard, lied to, are major crossroads in a relationship.
It is tempting to take the easy way out of pain by minimizing the significance of your feelings.

“Let’s move on” are words which are just as often a proclamation after deep reflection as it is a coverup up for unwillingness to examine a relationship tension.

So say you already realize the distinction of your outer life often requiring superficial interaction and your inner world knowledge requiring examination of deep, complex and subtle qualities.

Now what?

Expand your compassion for people.

Just as you live in both the outer reality and your inner world and recognize the functional purpose of a superficial smile, others show your theirs.

Either the other person is aware of themselves as you are and masking a current or past personal ordeal within their deeper selves while gliding through daily life or they are unaware of life except for surface everyday matters.

Each of these two possible realities deserve respect albeit for different reasons.

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About Sherry Katz

Sherry Katz, LCSW is primarily a couples therapist who counsels partners and individuals of all adult ages, in relieving tension and unhappiness in their relationships. The spectrum of care in her practice includes recuperating from infidelity, clarifying and strengthening trust and communication, restoring and developing common ground for a relationship. Ms. Katz has a secondary practice interest in helping family members align themselves in response to caring for elderly parents, especially a parent who has Alzheimer's Disease.Old Stories, New Views Family Therapy

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