Choose Joy…Because I Can’t Handle your Sadness

Choose joy
Choose happy
Let go of pain, of sadness, they only hold you back
Think positive thoughts
What you put out in the universe comes back to you

And so on and so on and so on

We say it’s okay to be sad….but we don’t mean it.  Sadness, anger, pain- these emotions make us so uncomfortable. We want to make those feelings go away, as quickly as possible.

I have changed a lot of things in my parenting style over the last two years, and how I handle tears is one of the biggest ones yet.  I can’t tell my kids that it’s normal to be sad sometimes, and then spend every second of their sadness trying to make them not sad.

Sadness isn’t something to “fix”.  Now, to be clear, I’m not talking about depression.  It’s important to understand that they are not the same.  I’m talking about the fact that sometimes, I wake up, and it feels like a wave crashes over me.  I have actually started saying the words, “it’s okay to feel upset right now” out loud.  I have done this so much with myself and my kids, that I have stopped trying to punish it.  I spend way less time and energy now trying to fix other people’s emotions.

I have been asked by other parents, “how do I get my kids to stop freaking out?”.  You figure out why you are so uncomfortable with their tears.  Why are you so upset that they are upset? I have read multiple books about how the things our kids do that trigger us come from issues in our own childhoods.  Were you ignored in your tears? Were you told to get over it and move on? Why are you so upset your child is sad?

It’s not just about children.  When I worked in an office, there was so much focus on keeping other people happy, there was no discussion around, “it’s okay if sometimes they aren’t”.  When I told friends I worked with that I struggled with anxiety, I got varying responses…”can you still work?” “you need to talk to legal if it will impact your job” “maybe this isn’t the right job” “it’s your fault you feel alone, you haven’t even invited me over to your house”
Everyone was so uncomfortable with the fact that I didn’t or couldn’t choose to be happy at that moment.  If this is how employed, educated individuals handle something as common as anxiety, that’s not great…(also I know they don’t represent all employed educated individuals, obviously you are different)
I wish someone had said, “what is that like? What are you feeling? I’m here for you”.  That’s it.

No one tried to understand, they just wanted me to take my meds so I could get back to “normal”, which is code for happy. Have you noticed that?  When we refer to things getting back to normal it means dealing with happy positive ideal scenarios, not the range of emotions that comes with being a living human in a world with other humans.

“What if someone you are friends with is negative, sad, etc all the time?” I hear this a lot.
It’s her body, her emotions, her choice.  You don’t get to choose what she feels because you don’t like it.  Say it out loud, “her life, her choice”.  Stop trying to change what she’s feeling and just sit with her in her pain. Don’t try to cheer her up, let her be sad, it’s okay to feel sad.  (Why did you say she? Is this a woman thing? What? Woman thing? I don’t even know what that means.  No, it’s a people thing. I said she because, my words my choice)

I’ve noticed something huge in my life.  When I say, out loud, “it’s okay to feel overwhelmed right now”, one of two things happens. This first is this-  I start crying for a minute and release all that pent up emotion and feel better (better does not necessarily mean happy, for me it means that I feel ready to tackle whatever is next).  The second is that I realize what I’m feeling, I recognize the emotion without judgement and don’t feel overwhelmed anymore.  In both instances I’m able to continue my day without feeling weighed down, and without my emotions escalating.  I acknowledge that how I feel is okay, no matter what, and I feel lighter.  I might be “happy” and I might not, and that’s okay.  Stop worrying about what you “should” feel, what someone else “should” feel, and actually feel.

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