I haven’t posted in a while because I have had multiple issues going on. Not necessarily negative, but intense. You know how life happens, right? Sometimes it feels like everything is happening at once and it can be hard to regroup.
I’m going to share something with y’all because I know many of you have experienced something similar-from business, work, or family.
I was receiving service from a healthcare provide a few weeks ago and was told I needed to have additional treatment for a condition. Just a temporary setback, but it was happening during a time when I was feeling particularly vulnerable, stressed, and just generally bummed.
I won’t go into too much detail because they may read my post and recognize themselves and I really like this provider. I have never had an issue with them, and they are usually quite supportive.
I think they were having a very bad day themselves.
Anyway, after learning I would need to continue a certain treatment, I mentioned that I was slightly depressed about that prospect.
That’s when it got ugly.
I was reprimanded and told that I had no reason to be depressed. That there are more things in this world to be depressed about and that my continued treatment wasn’t it.
I was shocked, hurt, and angry about that response.
I won’t detail my response although I did have one. Things calmed down a bit. But I had to shake off my feelings between indignation and hurt.
So, it occurred to me as I regrouped that I was just emotion-shamed by my healthcare provider.
Emotion shaming is when someone reprimands you for a genuine emotion you are feeling. It is done to make you feel as though you are ungrateful, overly expressive, or weak. It comes in many forms.
Your boss discounts you when you tell them you are overworked, stressed, or need help. They tell you that you are good at handling pressure and you’ll be able to get through it, that you are one of their best workers-blah, blah, blah.
Your doctor tells you that you shouldn’t be apprehensive about an upcoming procedure because others have gone through the same thing and they were just fine.
Your spouse tells you that you are overreacting to whatever situation it is because everything always turns out “for the best”.
And be careful about some Christians. They will throw the Word at you like it’s a sunny disposition bomb. After all, for some of the faithful, dealing with negative emotions or uncomfortable situations in others is akin to dancing with the devil himself. Y’all know I’m telling the truth.
Now there is a slight difference between emotion shaming and encouragement. Because on the surface the statements above appear to be encouragement. But they are not.
Emotional shaming is specifically done to make the other person’s job easier.
That boss wants you to do the work of two people for the paycheck of one because they don’t want to hire another person or pay you your worth. Maybe there is simply no money in the budget, and they don’t want to risk losing you.
That doctor doesn’t want to go over the risks because they don’t want to set themselves up for liability if something goes wrong. Maybe their bedside manner just sucks.
Your spouse doesn’t want to think about the situation themselves because helping to come up with a solution is harder than just putting it out of their mind. Maybe they’re used to you handling everything so well it makes them uncomfortable when you seem worried.
True encouragement never starts with “Don’t worry about it.” or “You shouldn’t feel that way.”
You’ll know when it’s not encouragement because you leave the conversation feeling ashamed, cast off, or guilty.
True encouragement starts with the other person keeping their mouth shut. Next, they begin listening to your concern, expressing empathy, and helping you through it.
The boss may have a manager that has just cut the budget and hiring someone or getting help may not be possible. They can still keep their mouth shut, listen and let you know the situation. Sometimes knowing the situation gives us the strength to carry on. We can then let go of the assumption that no one cares. Once this happens, we reclaim our power to decide how to respond to the stress.
The healthcare provider can keep their mouth shut, listen, and let you know that they understand why you would be apprehensive. Then they can ask you if you have any questions that may help you understand why it’s important for you to undergo the treatment. Once we have a greater understanding, we reclaim our power to decide how to respond to the stress.
The spouse can keep their mouth shut, listen, and ask what they can do to help. Once we feel we are not alone in coming up with a solution, we reclaim our power to decide how to respond to the stress.
Maybe you see a pattern here?
Notice all three of these solutions start with folks keeping their doggone mouths shut and listening before jumping to conclusions about the validity of your feelings.
All three solutions end with you reclaiming your power and giving you the ability to maintain a calm demeanor amid your circumstances. To proceed with dignity instead of shame.
And if you are one of those folks that emotion-shame, you know who you are.
I mean it. I’m not playing nice when it comes to this.
Being a Christian does not mean that we are always happy, always encouraged, always strong. We are still human. We sometimes feel sad, threatened, overwhelmed and angry. We did not forget Who we serve, nor His ability to bring us out of our doldrums. But our feelings are also God-given and alert us to when we are being taken advantage of, abused, or misled. All these feelings are valid.
Do not be ashamed of your emotions. Do not feel the need to hide your pain.
Sometimes stiff upper lips are overrated.