Since losing my job, I’ve spoken with a lot of people. Friends checking up on me. Family members making sure I’m okay. Former co-workers keeping me in the loop with the latest gossip.
A few times, when they’ve been complaining, somewhere during the conversation they’ll say, “Wait… I shouldn’t be complaining. I mean, look at what you’re going through.” And then today, I saw a post on Facebook with someone well-meaning lampooning fellow Facebook connections for complaining too much, and not being grateful, enough. “You just wasted a breath with a complaint while someone else took their last one.”
…..please. Really? THAT is the new standard for our lives? Be happy and grateful 100% of the time because someone else has it worse? By the same token, should we refrain from celebrating because someone else has it better?
That is possibly the dumbest possible way to set yourself up for failure I’ve ever heard. Because here’s the thing, folks – we *need* time to process our feelings. We need to experience them. All of them. We need to experience disappointment and anger and happiness and frustration and sadness and excitement and boredom. We have been given the ability of cognitive thought. And with that comes a range of emotion. That emotion allows us to tie feelings to experiences, and thus, enlightenment.
Think about it: You spend a whole week at work putting off an important project. On Friday, the project is due, and you don’t have it completed. Your boss expresses his frustration, a little less than politely. You go into the weekend feeling angry with yourself for not getting it done. You feel embarrassed because your boss called you out. And you’re sad because, instead of socializing with friends, you’ll be doing the project you should have done during business hours.
Without the emotional ties, we would struggle to learn from our experiences.
When my friends shame themselves for complaining, simply because I’m unemployed, I graciously respond, “Don’t do that to yourself. Don’t feel like you can’t complain about a situation because of what I’m going through. I’d rather you express your feelings to me because we’re friends, rather than censor them because I’m in a rough patch.”
Without emotion, nothing happens. As I’m sitting here, I realize that my coffee cup is sitting precariously close to the edge of the table. That makes me anxious; I don’t want my coffee to spill. So I move it. Conversely, I notice that my running shoes aren’t put away. But right now, I’m not worried about it, so nothing will happen.
You feel how you need to feel. From processing emotion comes insight. From insight comes enlightenment. From enlightenment comes next action steps. From next action steps comes success or failure. And the process begins again. Getting stuck in any one part of that process is problematic. But going through them? Perfectly healthy.
So here’s my public service announcement for the day: Feel how you need to. Bitch about life when it has you down. Celebrate when something good happens. Someone always has it worse. And someone always has it better. And don’t worry about me. I can’t stop myself from expressing myself. So I’ll be just fine.