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The annoying uncle at your party

Imagine: You've told your family's app group (the one that really has everyone in it) that you're celebrating your birthday this weekend. It's Saturday, and very cosy at your home. In the garden some children are playing, people are chatting and in between distributing coffee and cake you have some nice conversations.

You think everyone is there, when all of a sudden the bell rings. Maybe a package? When you walk towards the door, the cake in your stomach seems to turn into concrete. Your least favourite uncle (to put it mildly) is standing in front of the door. Was he in that app group at all? Apparently... While you're not even at the door yet, you already have the idea that you can smell your uncle through the door...

So, what are you going to do?

A) Reject your uncle with an excuse

B) Allow your uncle, but constantly try to ensure that he does not bother anyone, and stay in conversation with him as much as possible

C) Allow your uncle and try to amuse yourself as much as possible, trying to accept that he is also part of the family. 

Although I myself would sooner choose A or B, psychologists sometimes agree on which is the best solution, namely C. Sometimes you just have 'shit' in your life that you have to deal with. In fact, by refusing the problems, or wanting full control over them, the problems only get bigger! 

The annoying uncle at your party


'Clean' and 'dirty' pain

For problems that seem to get bigger and bigger, an interesting comparison has been made, namely 'clean' and 'dirty' pain.

'Clean pain' is the emotional and physical pain that is there, and that you cannot escape. The things that bother you, the pain you feel, and in the example above, the uncle who suddenly stands at your doorstep. Unfortunately, you have little influence over some things in your life, or you have made a choice that causes problems later on that you hadn't overlooked.

'Dirty pain' is pain caused by how you deal with your clean pain. By grumbling, irritating you, always wishing things were different from what they are, blaming yourself, saying but not doing, and so on. All the negative energy you spend on problems you often could not have escaped. In the example you can imagine that on A or B can lead to a lot of 'dirty pain'! 

And that explains why psychologists recommend option C. Try to admit the 'clean pain' and then work towards a solution. Because this helps to reduce 'dirty pain'!


Maybe you have already made the comparison, but if you extend the example above to yourself, you could say that the annoying uncle is 'your pain'. Your body is your home, where the pain just walks in, without you waiting for it! Your pain doesn't even have the decency to ring the doorbell...

Write down for yourself what you see as 'clean pain'. What feelings come to mind in you that are just there? On which you have little or no influence? 

Then write down what 'dirty pain' arises here. Be honest! What do you think and do you do that might bother you more than help? Do you cross your boundaries, do you become passive? Do you blame yourself? Do you blame someone else? Do you get stuck in irritation or sadness? 

Finally, write down 1 or 2 intentions to reduce your dirty pain. Choose a habit or way of reacting yourself that causes more dirty pain. Think of an alternative that will hopefully result in less dirty pain. For example: Every time I notice that I think 'oh no, there you will have the pain again', I try to let go of that idea and take three deep breaths. 

Good luck! 

The annoying uncle at your party

More guidance on how to decrease your pain