Self-ReflectionToday I Learn

Invalidating Others’ Feelings: Don’t!

Me at the main library of my campus.

Just recently I saw a friend’s post showing a conversation about how they were sick of people who whined showing a craving for a partner whenever they saw other friends’ getting engaged or married – just because they were single. This really gets me to think about feelings. I’m not in any way blaming this friend of mine for her post or captured conversations. I’m writing this because I might have done the same, and now it makes me feel bad.

I think basically everyone is the same: we all want to be happy. What differs is the things that make us happy. For instance, I love traveling and it makes me happy. It does not necessarily mean that others will be happy too when they travel. Thus, saying others need to travel so they can be happy might not be appropriate. Unfortunately, we often do this: forcing people to be happy with what makes us happy when it actually is not the thing that makes them happy. True that it’s kinda exciting to find that people are happy with the same things that make us happy. I, for example, often feel thrilled when finding people who share the same interest such as in traveling, anime, novels, etc. However, if they don’t like what I like, it does not in any way make them inferior and not make us in any way better. I cannot say you suck just because you don’t like traveling, anime, or novels, right?

The same is with sadness. It is a feeling, too. What makes us sad might differ. What we want might also differ. When someone just broke up and cried, for instance, some of us tend to say, “Stop it, why would you cry over something like that? It is JUST a breakup.” Or in my previous example about friends’ whining when seeing other friends getting married, we might say, “Stop it. I’m sick of it. Why can’t you just be happy being single?” Well, for us who enjoy being single, it might be like that. Someone’s getting married is not a thing that makes us sad. For some others, however, it might be quite heart-breaking, i.e. they might have been wanting to get married themselves but somehow they haven’t. Thus, they feel sad that they are not married yet, that they are still single, etc. Who are we then to say that this sadness that others feel is invalid? If you love your cat and it goes missing or dies and you are sad, crying, wailing, etc. and then someone says, “Give me a break. It is JUST a cat!”, how would you feel? It might be just a cat for them but not for you; i.e. it is more than that. And vice versa, something that means so little to us might mean a lot to others. I mean, sadness is sadness. If you are sad because you’re single, you’re sad. If you feel sad because you broke up with your partner, you’re sad. If you’re sad because your exam only got 60, you’re sad. Etc. Sadness is sadness. It is a feeling. And like I’ve written before, we cannot invalidate others’ feelings just because we don’t share the same feelings.

Again, I’m not accusing anyone who does things like that, things that might seem to invalidate others’ feelings. I know that sometimes we’re just trying to make others feel better, that we don’t mean to hurt them, etc. I mean, sometimes or maybe often times, I might do it, too. But now that I think of it this way, I think I need to be more careful with what I say when it comes to others’ feelings. Don’t you think so?

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