March 14, 2016 at 2:42 am #46217
Very important article below.
Trying to “cover up” negative emotions in yourself or in others, is really a judgment against being human, it interferes in being authentic, and is an unspoken dark-side agenda desire to avoid having a real human heart connection.
Healthy management of the emotional body is not about “getting rid of emotions” in my view; it’s about being grounded enough so that one can allow the emotions to be felt without being taken off into crazy storylines of the mind.
In short, it’s all about authenticity.
Neither extreme of “avoidance” or “mental storyline-fueled expression” are neutral authentic viewpoints of reality.
Why Wont Anyone Let Me Feel Sad?
She may be in a better place, but I’m not!
Posted Oct 28, 2009
If we were forced to quantify the problems grieving people encounter, there’s no doubt the number one offense they must confront is being told that they shouldn’t feel sad or bad.
The tragedy is that they are told this precisely when it makes the most sense for them to feel sad or badwhen someone important to them has died. Although we don’t like to be sarcastic, we must ask, if you can’t feel sad in reaction to to the death of someone important in your life, then when can you ever feel sad?
A typical lament from a broken hearted griever is, “I’m having a very difficult time. Everyone keeps telling me not to feel bad and giving me all kinds of reasons that don’t make sense to me. They say, Don’t feel bad, she’s in a better place.’ I agree, that since my wife had struggled so long and so valiantly with the cancer that took her from me, I do hope she’s in a better place. “But I’m not in a better place! I’m sad, I miss her terribly, and I’m confused when people tell me not to feel sad or bad. I just want to avoid those people. Is there something wrong with me?”
Our answer probably won’t surprise you: “No, there’s nothing wrong with you – you’re actually the emotionally healthy one in the scenario. You’re trying to tell the truth about how you feel, only to have others tell you that you shouldn’t be feeling what you’re feeling.”
We go on to tell the griever: “The death of your wife is the dominating event in your life. But the absence of comfort from the people around youin the form of comments telling you not to feel the way you feelfocuses you on those comments and distracts you from your primary task of dealing with her death.”
It All Starts with “Have a Cookie”
If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll recall an earlier post titled, Here, Have an AntidepressantI Mean a Cookie. So you won’t be surprised when we invoke the old cookie example in this section.
Being told not to feel bad is always followed by a reason that makes no sense relative to how the griever feels – things like “she’s in a better place” or “at least her suffering is over.” Those explanations are about the person who died, not about the grieving person. Even if the griever agrees with these ideas and sentiments, these comments don’t address what the griever is feeling.
It may help you to understand why everyone is so dedicated to telling you not to feel bad. As you read what we say, you’re liable to be surprised that all of us were taught not to feel bad from as far back as we can remember. The reason that we use it with others is that it was used on us. Therefore we believe it to be truthful, though it is anything but truthful.
Here’s that cookie example showing how a child’s normal response to a painful event is converted into a lifelong incorrect philosophy for dealing with sad emotions:
A five-year-old girl has had an emotionally painful experience at school. The other children have been mean to her. She goes home to Mom, Dad, or Grandma, and spills out her tale of woe, with tears. This healthy, normal expression and display of human emotion is met with, “Don’t feel bad. Have a cookie, you’ll feel better.” Those two sentences can create a life-long belief that that we should deal with sad feelings by eating.
The child has honestly presented an emotion, a sad feeling, to someone she trusts. The emotion is immediately dismissed with, “Don’t feel bad,” and then anesthetized with food. The fact is that when you load a little body up with food or sugar, something will change. The child feels different, but not better. No one has listened to or addressed her presenting issue, which was her feelings, not hunger.
Sweet but Dangerous for Adults Too
The fact that the people who love us do not want us to feel bad is a sweet sentiment, but a dangerous one. A child is going to feel what she [or he] feels whether others approve of it or not. If the people around the child do not understand that sad, painful, or negative feelings are normal and natural reactions to hurtful events, then the child will just go underground and hide her feelings.
She will begin to ACT FINE, because that action is rewarded. “Isn’t she brave?” Or, “Isn’t he strong?” are the comments children hear when they cover up and bury their sad feelings after a loss. What is true for children is also true for adults. We all started out learning the same incorrect rules when we were young. When we get older we reach back into our storehouse of information and come out with things like “Don’t feel bad.” We even apply that idea to ourselves when we feel bad, without others saying it to us.
The problem is that we never knew to ask the question, “Why can’t I feel sad?”
It makes no sense that we were taught that it isn’t acceptable to feel sad and to communicate openly and honestly about those feelings in reaction to grief-producing events?”
As a griever, the healthiest thing you can do is tell the truth about how you feel in any given moment.
As a person who is talking to a griever, the healthiest thing you can do is listen without judgment or criticism of feelings, and never give the illogical advice that your friend shouldn’t feel sad or bad.March 23, 2016 at 2:54 pm #46218
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