Today’s post is from Concordia Chaplain Rev. Roger Nuerge and is part 15 of the “Call to Care” series. Concordia’s Chaplaincy Department actively contributes to our residents’ well being.
To help caregivers relate to those who are suffering, Dr. Kenneth Haugk, in his book entitled Don’t Sing Songs to a Heavy Heart, includes a chapter called “Pink Thinking.” “Pink thinking” can be just as harmful as “words that hurt, not heal” – but it is more subtle.
Pink thinking is optimism run amok. It denies the reality of another person’s suffering and glosses over their pain. It tries to banish dark and gloomy thoughts by urging the sufferer to “think positive” regardless of the situation. Pink thinkers believe their role is to get the suffering person out of their despair by helping them to “look on the bright side.”
Here are some ways pink thinking can sabotaging your caring efforts.
Cheering People Up
On the surface it seems like “cheering people up” is a good thing to do. In reality, however, trying to cheer people up who are hurting often makes them feel even worse. This happens because when caregivers try to cheer them up, hurting people:
This is a form of pink thinking that tries to minimize or trivialize suffering. To say, “It’s not so bad” to a hurting person makes them hurt worse because their suffering is not being taken seriously. They are made to feel that they are not worth being taken seriously, and all they really need to do is “snap out of it.” Glossing over is a form of giving easy assurance that everything will be all right. Some of the most hurtful glossing-over statements are:
Words like these can sound patronizing to a hurting person and make it clear that the caregiver is not acknowledging the pain.
More on “pink thinking” next time.
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