I often said the wrong thing- wake up, shut up, grow up. These are the wrong thing to say when people are sad about some minor cruelty or sentimental incident. Denise Mina “Conviction”

Who says you can’t get insight from a fictional, psychological thriller?

I read this quote last week, and it sort of jibed with everything that I had been thinking and experiencing. I had a lousy week, yet there were a bunch of people who would line up to tell me that I was wrong to feel this way. I have so much more than other people. OR That no one should ever have bad days, we should all adjust our mindset to just dismiss them entirely…

I call BULLSHIT on that…

No one has the right to tell anyone how they should feel.

I’m going to repeat that so you get how emphatic I would be if you were standing next to me:





The most personal thing we have are our feelings- our feelings are ours and ours alone. To tell someone that there feelings are wrong, it essentially telling them that they, as an individual, are wrong.

To tell someone to just think positive, or act happy, or brush it away because it doesn’t matter means you are negating the person’s ability to express emotion. You are telling them that positive emotions are the only ones we should ever feel…and you’re setting them up for a lifetime of disappointment. If the expectation is that we are supposed to be positive 100% of the time, the majority are going to be depressed 50% of the time because they will think that soemthing is wrong with them. How dare they not be happy? How dare someone doesn’t always see the rainbow? The pot of gold?

Take adversity and throw it away.

Positive people are postive all the time and that’s the way to be…

Sorry- that’s cult mentality.

But for a moment- let’s cut to the other side of this coin: the people who say- You should be happy because there are others much less fortunate than you.

I want you to think about this: If you say that there are others less fortunate than you, you are comparing.

Never compare your life to someone else’s. The grass is always greener, keeping up the Jones/Kardashian clans are bad for your mental health because you will never be content with what you have. You will always feel less.

Conversely, always looking at others and saying I’m more fortunate than them is pretty much saying- Wow- I am so much better than they are. They are inferior. I am superior. Because, let’s face it- you’re saying that you should be happy because you are not them…

We all have emotions. Good ones and not so good ones. That’s a fact. The trick is to learn how to DEAL with the myriad emotions that we all face. The goal shouldn’t be to pretend that we never feel anything negative. The goal should be to learn how to deal with the negative emotions in a positive way.

One of the greatest lessons we can teach our kids is how to deal with the bad things, whether they be as small as getting a bad grade on a test, or as large as losing someone you love. It’s our old friend resilience again… Don’t tell your kids to smile, or be happy. Don’t say to them- well, I don’t know what you’re mad about, look at all the stuff you have. Don’t say that they have it much better than you had it as a kid (comparing again)

Tell your kids that mad, sad, angry are ok. Blah is ok.

Then teach them healthy ways to deal with it. Physical activity. Creative project. Read a book or watch a show with a character that feels the same way…

Don’t tell someone that there feelings aren’t valid. All feelings are valid. The only thing not valid is telling someone that they’re not.




48 thoughts on “It’s Not

  1. I agree. It’s important for all of us to learn how to express our emotions in a healthy way. When we’re able to do that, we’re able to process it and then move past it. One of the things I’ve tried to tell my children is to try to put what’s bothering you into a different perspective. Ask yourself “How much will this matter in 5 minutes, 5 days, 5 weeks, 5 years?” That helps me to keep from spending more time being upset about something than I should.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Agree completely!
    Comparison is hard not to do though, in either direction you mentioned. I suspect we need to tune in more to a “living in the moment” attitude and attempt to find satisfaction in what we have now. Why do we believe Mrs. “mansion on the hill” is happy, or Mr. “lives in a single wide mobile” doesn’t enjoy life as it is…
    On a side note, I’m prepping a short cultural diversity class and found this which I plan to include because there are cultural undertones to these concepts of comparison I think:

    Specific cultures have worldviews that are delineated by living in the past, present or future and focus their goals and opinions based upon their cultural orientation. In short, an example might be Native Americans, who are present oriented. They take what comes and live in the richness that is presented to them at the time, rather others deem it positive or not.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I like that! But yes…different cultures handle things differently, and could lead to misunderstandings and such…I’m going to write about comparing tomorrow….

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I agree. I almost wrote something similar the other day. People don’t like to see others’ so-called negative emotions because they don’t know how to deal with their own; it makes them uncomfortable. Instead of sitting in a moment with someone or listening to what’s ailing them, they’d rather begin telling you how to feel better or how to get over what the issue is. So, I agree with you. Anytime you tell someone how to feel about something, you’re being manipulative. No one likes to be manipulated.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I’m a firm believer parents should better prepare their children with the truth, perhaps teachers should also. Allow them to be, as you say, “mad sad and or angry” at the world but no instead parents hide behind the mantra “never tell the children!” I’ve worked alongside a Grandfather who openly said this, my parents would have also, (I understand their good intentions) but might omitting mortgage pain, debt, rent job insecurities….. be dishonest and ultimately harmful? The fortunate of us blossom from cosseted loving idilic childhoods at age18, only to be then faced by a maelstrom of life’s unfair hardships that we might be unprepared for, unable to cope with? Perhaps 🙂 . (Incidentally do they teach ‘saving money, budgeting, being frugale, happiness lol…..’ in schools? I know I’ve veered off topic.)

    Liked by 2 people

  5. This post seems to have ricocheted in more directions than I can count. I’ll address a few things that caught my attention. There’s nothing worse than telling a person who’s angry ‘to calm down’ unless they’re driving and you’re afraid for your life or if you’re bleeding and need them to dial 911. When someone tells me I’m overreacting, they should be grateful I’m not violent.

    I think comparing yourself to others is natural and telling people not to do this is no different than telling them their feelings aren’t valid. I think comparing yourself to the extremes is wherein the problem lies. Do I compare myself to another author who won awards, made every end-of-year list, is invited to big conferences? Well, yes, but what do I do with that comparison? Do I compare myself to wanna be authors who have written something I can barely get through to offer feedback and feel good about myself? Again, TBH yes, I do because it reminds me how far I’ve come since I began writing with the goal of publishing. It affords me perspective.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Your feelings are your feelings. Nobody has the right to judge how anyone else feels. However it is human nature for people to make comparisons. The nerd in school thinks the cool kid has no right to feel badly.The single mom working double shifts can’t relate to a Kardashian griping about nonsense because she has money to spare. People DO judge one another.
    My sister called up the other day to bitch about her yoga class being canceled but stopped in the middle of her rant because I was having difficulty after my cancer surgery. Suddenly she felt guilty for griping when her annoyance was trivial in comparison to my situation. I told her to gripe away because the reality was that nothing in her life, thank goodness, would be as bad as cancer. But that didn’t mean she didn’t have the right to bitch about it. She needed to know that she was allowed to feel ticked off or sad, or whatever. I understood.
    Being sick I’m seeing that People are afraid to just be themselves around me. They feel guilty for being upset about day to day stuff because my life is challenging right now. I can’t help that I got sick. But while it sucks, that doesn’t mean I’m going to judge them for just living their lives.

    People make comparisons. It’s pretty normal. But we can’t judge one another. Feelings are feelings and they are all real and valid. Express yourself in whatever mode you like and try not to let others make you feel badly.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. You have a great attitude, and it’s almost like people want you to be all woe is me…..comparing….you and Laura mentioned this being just a human behavior, and I agree, but it deserves a blog of its own….

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Yep, you’re onto something here. It’s interesting how if I’m happy someone will insinuate that I’m not being authentic with my feelings. And then if I’m angry a different someone will tell me to lighten up. You can’t give your power over to other people, but it took me some time to figure that out. Kids today are much more in-tune with themselves, thanks to smart parents.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I actually physically hate the ‘Happy Police’ for those reasons.

    Is it a wonder people sometimes keep secrets? They don’t want to be admonished with lines like ‘but you have it so good’ and ‘just snap out of it’.



  9. “You should be happy because there are others less fortunate than you” is something that hit me but I don’t say I’m happy, I say grateful. I think that’s a little different, but maybe not.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Feelings are yours alone, if you are happy it is because something or someone in your life went well or did something great. If you are feeling badly it is the reverse. Yes, we can be insular but if you take on everyone else’s problems then you would take to bed never to get up. No one can tell you how to feel, but if you have bad feelings for too long you should get help and there should be no stigma attached to that request.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Yes, yes, yes! This is one of the first things they teach in clinical skills classes for people who will be doing therapy—-it’s called empathetic listening—-NEVER invalidate the person’s emotions. I just discussed this in my recent post on performance anxiety: emotions are VERY difficult to change directly. There are better pathways to target if emotional change is the goal.

    Telling someone their feelings are wrong is just, well, wrong. Unfortunately, many well-meaning people do it anyway. They think they’re being helpful or inspiring, as if those things never occurred to you before. If you just remember how fortunate you are, it will erase whatever negative experience you’ve just had—-wrong again. The fact is, most of us just want to be heard and understood. We need validation before we can move on to figure out a solution; and most of the time, we can figure out the solution or adjust our thinking on our own.

    This reminds me of a common example often used to illustrate the concept of intrusive thoughts: the pink elephants. If I tell you not to think about pink elephants for the next five minutes, pink elephants will inevitably pop into your mind…UNLESS…you start off the exercise by picturing the pink elephants. We need to address that image before we can let it go; otherwise, it haunts us. We need others to be our cheerleaders, to say “ugh, it sucks that your boss took her anger out on you! You must feel so hurt and frustrated!”

    If anything, the ostensibly well-meaning comments about how we should feel often make us feel even worse! Someone once said to me, “but you have no reason to be depressed!” and proceeded to point out all the reasons my life was great. That person missed the point—-I knew the reasons my life was great, but I felt sad anyway. Then I felt worse because not only was I not understood, but the idea that there was something wrong with me was reinforced!

    Sorry for the lengthy comment! I just have very strong feelings on this point, and I’m glad to see someone else putting it out there!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the well thought comment! Obviously, I share your opinion. We need to be heard and validated, and if it bothers us, it’s not trivial. We own our feelings…to be told not to feel in a specific way is manipulative and demeaning

      Liked by 2 people

  12. You know I completely agree with you on this. A variation of this is discounting a person’s experiences. A great example is that no one in my family really listened or believed what I said when I tried to express the difficulty we were having with OC. I kept hearing, “that’s typical teen behavior” or excuses or so many other things, all negating what we were going through or attempting to diminish it. I was so frustrated because not one single person that didn’t live with it didn’t actually understand how impossible the situation was.

    If you don’t personally live with and experience the emotions or the situation, you cannot fully understand what another person is dealing with. To judge them for it or tell them what the feel or what they are experiencing is wrong just makes you an ass.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Exactly. No one knows what goes on in the head of another, how they view something, internalize it. We own our thoughts and feelings, and to have them negated is wrong

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Completely agree LA. I’ve been really hurt in the past by certain people invalidating my feelings. No one can tell you how to feel and it’s okay to not feel okay without comparing yourself or your situation to anyone else’s.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Spot on LA, I will admit that happy all the time people really get on my pip. While I do try to look for the sliver lining I tend to live my life expecting the worst, then went something goes well it’s always it’s a real boost :).

    Liked by 1 person

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