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Mountains from molehills

December 23, 2009

One of the starkest revealers of the alien condition, I think, is when other people so deeply misunderstand and mischaracterize the feelings, thoughts, aspirations and fears of a person.

When a person bears his soul out, and you say, “You’re making mountains out of molehills,” or “Get over it,” or “It’s not that big of a deal,” then regardless of whether you actually feel it is just a molehill or that it isn’t that big of a deal (and regardless of whether the things at hand are *truly* not mountainous), you don’t make friends this way. You only serve to extend the distance between you and the person by several thousand miles.

A person’s life is never a molehill.

His feelings are never molehills.

These things may seem petty to you, but isn’t this subjectivity? I guess the problem is: how can you know the subjectivity of another? If you were inside them, seeing things from the same vantage point, I doubt you’d say such insensitive things. But, I guess this isn’t possible, so all of us continue to err.


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  1. Hi Andrew,

    Yes, I agree. I am a pretty emotionless person most of the time, so it is often difficult for me to understand the deep, depressive feelings that some of my friends occasionally experience. Often the triggers of such emotions are things that, had they happened to me, would be fairly trivial. However, I have seen firsthand how powerful those feelings can be. Although I can never really understand them, I struggle to avoid minimizing them.

    At the same time, however, those friends sometimes turn to me for help in such times of crisis. So, I guess I try to strike a balance between genuine sympathy and helping to put things in perspective. Perspective is important. Instead of minimizing the negative issues, however, I find the most effective strategy to be to help refocus the afflicted person’s attention on positive things. Ideally, you can remind them that they have friends and family who care for them, and that there is a lot of potential for the future. In really serious cases, I have helped friends get medication that they don’t have the motivation to get for themselves. Sometimes the reason something feels like a mountain to depressive people is that a chemical imbalance in their brain has caused them to fixate on that issue, and no amount of perspective can break the fixation.

  2. It’s interesting. I remember how much I felt dismissed and in many instances insulted and hurt when I was told that I made mountains out of molehills.

    Later when I got past everything I looked back and said to myself “Wow, they were all molehills after all.”

    Then I turned around and told other people to “get over it, it’s not a big deal, your making a mountain out of a molehill.” I was completely forgetting what it felt like when I went through all of that. I then became the insulter and dismisser. How quickly we forget.

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