The Nail

By Greg Baer M.D.

August 28, 2015

On YouTube, the following video was posted:

We see the lower righter quarter of her face as she is talking. “It’s just there,” she said. “There's all this pressure, you know? And sometimes it feels like it's right up on me, and I can just feel it, like literally feel it in my head, and it's relentless, and I don’t know if it’s going to stop. That’s the thing that scares me the most, that I don't know if it's ever going to stop.”

The camera view expands, and she turns her head in such a way that now we see that there is a large nail embedded in the middle of her forehead, and she is talking to a man sitting next to her on a couch.

Him: Yeah, well, you do have a nail in your head.

Her: It’s not about the nail.

Him: Are you sure? Because I mean, I’ll bet that if we got that out of there—

Her (angrily): Stop trying to fix it.

Him: No I'm not trying to fix it! I'm just pointing out that maybe the nail was causing—

Her (increasingly angry): You always do this.  You always try to fix things when what I really need is for you to just listen!

Him: See, I don't think that is what you need. I think what you need is to get the nail out—

Her: See, you’re not even listening now.

Him: OK, fine I will listen. Fine.

Her: It’s just, sometimes it's like there's this achy, I don't know what it is, and I'm not sleeping very well at all. And all my sweaters are snagged. I mean all of them.

Him: I . . . that sounds really hard.

Her (with obvious relief and gratitude): It is. (touching him) Thank you.

She leans forward to kiss him, but the nail in her forehead jabs his forehead, and they both recoil in pain.

Oh come on,” he says. “If you would just— ”

Exasperated, she says, “Don’t—”

Sometimes we just need to be understood, so we can feel unafraid enough to address whatever the real problem is. Sometimes we need other people to help us.

We have to pay attention to whether people need compassion or solutions, or first one and then the other. Some people only want sympathy for their victimhood, in which case we can’t help them at all. Sometimes it’s just about pulling out the nail, even when people resist us vigorously.

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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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