Versión en Castellano
“I’ve ruined your shirt, but don’t get mad”
“Please don’t get mad, but I’ve decided to go on vacation with another friend”
“I know I’ve arrived half an hour late, but don’t get mad”
I can go on, but I think we’ve all heard these sentences or their likes in the past.
How do you feel when you hear such a sentence?
I get mad!
Not because of their content, but because of their message: “I can do whatever I want and you’re not even entitled to your own feelings”.
Since we’re very young, we’re told it’s not ok to feel the way we do.
For instance, when a child wants to keep playing but their parents send them to bed – he gets angry, so he shouts or he cries. The reaction? In the older times it was “I’ll give you a reason to cry “. When a child cries over not getting what they want, they don’t need “a reason to cry”. They have one, that’s why they’re crying.
The parent needs to learn how to acknowledge that for the child this situation is undesirable and for not knowing how else to express their emotions – they cry.
A parent can teach a child how to better express their emotions, in a way that will be adequate or acceptable in society, but when they deny them the right to express an emotion, they deny them the right to feel it, for children don’t know how to separate an emotion from its expression.
And so these children grow and turn to adults who think they’re not entitled to feel certain emotions and express them.
Let’s take the most simple and common version – arriving late (I should know – I’m afraid the only thing I’ve inherited from my Swiss grandmother is the love for chocolate).
Most people regard lateness as a lack of respect towards them. Even those who know it is not directed against them, do not enjoy standing for 15 minutes in the street, waiting anxiously to the arrival of their date.
Of course, it’s much more pleasant for the person arriving late to hear “it’s ok, I don’t mind.”
But what if the person waiting does mind?
It is seen as “impolite” to get upset and so they are suppose to swallow their anger and pretend it is all well, just so that the person arriving late won’t feel bad. Or are they?
It is of utmost importance – giving PERMISSION TO OURSELVES to experience and express all the rainbow of our emotions. Yes, the permission – or the lack of it – only depends on us. Nobody can give or deny me permission to feel the way I do.
And so, when I remember to breath deep in spite of my anger, I can give myself permission to feel anger, if this is how I chose to feel. And I can tell the other person that I have a right to feel angry and even act angry, although it’s uncomfortable for them, just as they have the right to arrive late.
If I remember to breath deep, I can express my anger in a constructive way (the kind which promotes communication with the others. Screaming and throwing things about the room isn’t constructive, according to my experience), without trying to hide my anger or deny it. Perhaps the person in front of me won’t enjoy it, but I think it’s a small price to pay compared with not being able to be frank and sincere with the people around me.
In one of my next posts I will address the subject of learning how to assume our emotions, our way of expressing them and the consequences of doing it (and also of not doing it).
I will also address the difficulty of dealing with people around us, who might express feelings which are uncomfortable for us.Read More