It is perfectly okay, in my opinion, to be pissed off. If something upsets you, let yourself be upset. You don’t have to wallow in the anger and make it a huge part of your life, but you do have the right to be upset. I get so frustrated when I voice a concern and everyone I know jumps on me trying to show me the positive side and “fix” it so that I’m not upset. I’m entitled to feel whatever I feel, don’t try to change that. Let me feel what I want to feel. Just because you may have been through a similar experience doesn’t meant that I have to feel the same way that you do or move through my feelings at the same rate as you. If you want to share your experience with me, great… but do not try to tell me how I should feel, that simply isn’t up to you to decide.
I think people are too quick to say, “Oh I’m being so negative” and then push their feelings aside. So meanwhile we’ve got all of these people going around with forced smiles on their faces who haven’t actually allowed themselves to feel anything. I’m not okay with that.
Imagine if social workers, counselors, and doctors worked under that belief. If you came into my office for help because someone you loved was dying and instead of letting you express your feelings I just kept telling you why you shouldn’t feel that way. That wouldn’t help you deal with your grief at all. I know this because I’ve been a grief counselor and know that although it’s not healthy to let your grief define who you are, it’s also not healthy to deny your emotions. One of the things we used to say over and over again in the grief support groups that I led for years was “All feelings are okay.” It’s okay to be happy that someone died. It’s okay to be sad that someone died. It’s okay to be both happy and sad plus pissed off, confused, and scared too. We have feelings for a reason, denying them isn’t going to make your life positive.
So why do that to me in any other situation? If I’m pissed off because of something at work, let me be pissed off for a minute. Let me express my pissed-offed-ness and then once I’ve been able to feel and experience my feelings I can move on. Telling me that I shouldn’t feel what I’m feeling is only going to piss me off even more. LET ME FEEL IT! Tell me, “Man, that blows…” not “You shouldn’t feel like that because of X, Y and Z.”
Denying someone the opportunity to feel what they’re feeling is never okay. Like when a little kid cries over something, adults will often tell the child to stop crying. But essentially when you do that, you’re telling the child that it’s not okay to feel what they’re feeling. It may not be appropriate to throw a kicking and screaming fit on the floor when you can’t have another Oreo, and perhaps the child needs to be taught other means of expressing their feelings, but feeling upset is still okay. The whole “big boys don’t cry” thing is another pet peeve of mine. Actually, unhealthy big boys who are taught to stuff their feelings don’t cry. Healthy big boys do cry because they’re able to express their feelings.
In the past week I’ve had an aunt die and watched my Grandpa enter the final stages of his life. As I type this he’s at my house in a hospital bed deteriorating. I know that because of the current stress in my life I’m a lot more sensitive than usual. I also know that when people try to fix things for me it’s because they care. I know that not everyone is a social worker. Not everyone has been through the training I’ve been through and learned how harmful it can be to deny people their feelings. Because of that I try to have patience when people try to fix my problems when I’m not looking for a cure. But to be completely honest, I’m kind of at the end of my rope with the positivity crap right now.
Last week I said that I was upset because I didn’t have enough leave time to be home with my mom & grandpa the way I’d like to. The response I got was, “At least you have a job where you have leave time.” That didn’t help me at all. Who cares if I have a job where I earn leave? The point is that someone I love is DYING and I can’t be there because I myself am so sick all of the time that I used up my bank of leave time. The point is that my mother is alone at home watching her father die and no one else is there with her most of the time that I’m at work. That is the point. I can be pissed off about that all I want.
Yesterday I said that I didn’t like the way the Hospice nurse and nurses assistant treat me and my mom sometimes. The response I got was that they’ve got a hard job and they might not mean to come across the way they do. Yeah, and my Grandfather is dying in my house so my job is hard too but I’m not a jerk to the nurses when they visit therefore they don’t need to be jerks to us.
Today I said that a change at work was making not just me but everyone in the office uncomfortable. The response I got was that I should embrace the change because work isn’t a democracy. Telling me that isn’t going to make me say, “Holy crap, you’re right… I don’t have any right to be uncomfortable!”
Do you see where I’m going here? I totally get that the people responding to me were trying to be helpful. And I know for a fact that because I’m a social worker I often try to help people see all sides of a situation too, but there’s a difference between providing perspective and denying someone the chance to feel. There’s also a huge difference in being a negative person and allowing someone to feel emotion.
If all I ever did was bitch about how awful everything was and how the world hates me and I never smiled or laughed or believed in anything positive and was a huge bully to everyone, you could feel free to call me a Negative Nancy. But if I’m an essentially good person who is going through a hard time and happens to voice my frustrations so that I can process them and begin the progression of feeling better, please don’t get in my way by telling me that I’m wrong. Especially if you have no idea if I am wrong! If I’m wrong and you know it because you’re a part of what’s happening, by all means put a boot in my ass. Or if I’m wallowing in self pity a little too long and you can tell I need help, yes, step in and lend a hand. But if you’re just assuming that you know what’s best for me without knowing exactly what’s going on, stop. I have to be able to make my own mistakes and feel my own feelings and acknowledge my own stuff without someone telling me that I’m being too negative.
Nothing in the world would ever change and improve if everyone just forced themselves to be happy with everything at all times and didn’t allow themselves to get worked up every so often. Can you imagine how awful that would be? Don’t like racism? Too bad, that’s just the way things are. Think bullying is awful? Oh well, there’s nothing we can do about it. Someone treating you like shit? They probably had a bad childhood so just give them a break. Someone sexually abused your kid? That’s awful but get over it. Devastated that someone you love died? Move on, you’re being too negative. Or perhaps we can experience and acknowledge our feelings. We can use our feelings to change and grow or just simply process and move on. Feelings are meant to be felt.