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Thanks to the Mankato Free Press for publishing this letter to the editor.

Emotional pain is a feeling of hurt, anguish, or sorrow, and sometimes we forget that pain is a danger signal.

“If you stub your toe, for a brief moment, your entire world is that toe,” said Dr. Geoff MacDonald during a Live Science interview. “Pain is really good at disrupting attention and getting you singularly focused on making the bad thing stop.”

As I go around speaking to students and professionals, it is evident that there is a lot of emotional pain and exhaustion. I believe that our own pain is so great that we have trouble seeing the pain others are experiencing.

When we prioritize one group’s pain, other groups feel neglected and disliked, and we amplify their distress when the intention is to reduce our own.

I also believe that if we are going to address our emotional pain, we need to do it together. Going into our own racial, political, professional, ideological or gendered corners limits our knowledge on how to approach these issues and our ability to see our shared humanity. These issues are too significant to address separately.

Compassion and empathy are not for one group onto another, but for everyone onto each other. Perhaps by sharing in each other’s pain we will reduce it as well.

To the students, you are each a unique individual that deserves respect and love. If you need help, please tell a parent, a neighbor, a trusted friend, a friend’s parents, teacher, counselor or coach. Many adults are busy and stressed out, but that doesn’t mean we do not care.

Elizabeth Hanke