Have you ever caught yourself saying things like “It’s not that bad. At least the paycheck is OK. He is mean to me but it doesn’t really get to me. It could be worse.” Most people are hesitant to talk about experiences or feelings that make us sound foolish or weak. With all the effort we put into this modern world to keep everything positive, we sometimes downplay a situation that really needs our attention and in most cases, assistance from others.
We have a tendency of diminishing our loses, we downplay the bad stuff – especially if it goes against the crowd. Think of Vegas as an easy example. Hardly anyone says, “I lost $2,000. It was a waste of time and money.” We always say, “It was fun! Almost broke-even.”
In psychology, this is called minimisation. Minimisation is a type of deception. It includes living in denial, combined with rationalisation in situations where complete denial is irrational and implausible. Simply put, it is downplaying the significance of a problem, event or emotion. A very common strategy in dealing with feelings of guilt.
Sidenote: Please do not find this article as an excuse to exaggerate your problems. Exaggeration is the opposite of minimisation and is equally damaging!
How to catch yourself doing this (minimisation):
- If something is bothering you and influencing you in a bad way for a period of time, look into it. Ask yourselves some real questions and don’t be afraid to talk it out.
- If a person makes you feel bad repetitively, no matter how much love you have for this person, perhaps it is time to reevaluate the relationship.
- If you are in a job environment that results in you going home stressed, strained and frustrated then perhaps the “I’m receiving an OK Salary” is not enough to keep you there!
It is dangerous for our wellbeing to downplay serious situations that affect us. Especially if you continue accepting the unwanted situation with rationalisations e.g. ‘it could be worse’ or ‘others are coping in similar circumstances’.
Take responsibility for your actions and your life, stop downplaying the bad stuff, ask for help when needed and release yourself from the barriers you so easily impose on yourself!