It really sucks when someone negates your feelings. Have you ever had a situation where you were upset about something, and someone said, “Oh, it’s not that big of a deal.” You probably didn’t walk away thinking, “Wow, they’re totally right. It’s not that big of a deal. Thank goodness they pointed that out. I feel so much better now!”
More than likely, you walked away angry because you wanted to be heard and validated. Instead, you were completely invalidated. And… it sucked. It certainly didn’t make you feel better about the situation or improve your relationship with this person, right?
Something like this happened to me the other day. Except, it wasn’t a peer who invalidated my feelings. It was my toddler.
I was upset, and my child came over to console me. He said, “It’s ok mommy. You’re ok.” Then, I noticed that he started saying the same thing to anyone who was upset.
Now I had read a long time ago about the importance of allowing my child to decide how he feels when hurt or upset, so he didn’t learn this “you’re ok” BS from me. I always make a solid effort not to say, “you’re ok”, but it is so engrained in our society that my child has learned it anyway.
It seems that our society is mildly uncomfortable with emotion, especially if a male is showing it. Little boys are raised to “brush it off” only to become husbands of wives who are frustrated by their inability to communicate feelings and lack of empathy.
At times, I have been told that I’m going to “raise a cry baby” because I hug my child when he is hurt or upset. I never tell him to “brush it off.” I ask him where it hurts. Sometimes, I explain to him that even if something hurts now, he will heal and be ok eventually. I make sure he knows that my husband and I are there for him in the mean time.
It’s interesting to see the effect of this approach on him as he grows up. These days, he doesn’t cry every time he falls. He only cries when he is actually hurt or when he’s embarrassed. Although, somehow, he’s decided that I’m “ok” if I am upset, so I’ll have to keep working on that one…
Nonetheless, I will always be there for him when he is upset even if it means that some people will think I’m raising a “cry baby.” I hope it will help him learn to be comfortable with his emotions, and you never know, his “feelings” might even make him human…
What do you think? Do you think I should try to toughen the boy up, or do you agree with my approach?