“Feelings are real and legitimate.” -Unknown
One of the most frustrating things in the world is feeling something painful and having other people tell you that you shouldn’t be upset.
That it’s no big deal that relationship didn’t work out, or that opportunity didn’t pan out—that it’s all in your head, so you should let it go, suck it up, and move on.
A while back, a friend of mine got fired from a new job after her first day. We were out in a group when she got the call, and several of us watched her emotions slowly build to gut-wrenching tears.
Naturally, everyone wanted to console her, but that quickly turned into a rapid fire succession of reminders that it really was no big deal—no one died—and she shouldn’t feel so crushed.
I understand it can be helpful to put things in perspective, and I know there were good intentions behind those words, but I found myself wondering if it ever helps to tell someone that they should be feeling something else.
No matter what someone else thinks about our circumstances and how we should respond, our feelings are not imagined.
If you’re mourning a loss of any kind, you don’t have to pretend you’re not hurt. Know that your feelings are real and valid.
If you’re missing the way things were, you don’t have to pretend you're not sad. Know that your feelings are real and valid.
If you’ve been betrayed, disrespected, or violated in any way, you don’t have to pretend you’re not angry. Know that your feelings are real and valid.
We are only human, and we are going to have times when we feel wounded, sometimes over events that would challenge anyone’s sense of composure, and sometimes over things that may seem insignificant to everyone but us.
In those moments, we may feel an overwhelming surge of emotion without really knowing the words to express it. Maybe the key is to simply feel it, without stressing about whether that’s right or wrong, and then give ourselves some time to understand what’s going on in our heads and our hearts.
We can either judge our emotions, telling ourselves we should be stronger, or accept them for what they are, and then allow ourselves space to recognize what we can think and do to feel stronger.
Photo by The Wandering Angel