Most of us have heard this little gem at one time or another. Our feelings are a choice. That bitch was a bitch? Why let it bother you, when you can choose to not feel bad about it? After all, she can’t MAKE you feel something. Except…
I once had this conversation with my psychiatrist…
Me: Last week, when I said that I felt like I was being a bitch by not talking to my [abusive] mother, and you said “you said it” in a tone that meant you agreed with my assessment that I was being a bitch, it made me feel bad.
Psychiatrist: Nobody can make you feel something.
This little gem of a saying is most often said by abusers to put blame on the victim. As with all good abuse techniques, there is a little bit of truth in it. We do have some control over our emotions.
And as with all good abuse techniques, it is taken to the extreme by abusers.
After all, how often do we hear..
“I know your father just died, but you are choosing to feel sad.”
“I know you were just raped, but you are choosing to feel scared.”
“I know your ex tried to kill you, but you are choosing to feel bad.”
Actually, I have heard all of those. Sadly, there are a lot of people out in the world who just can’t be bothered dealing with the emotions of others (as well as the abusers who say these things to get away with their abuse). For the most part however, we accept that people have emotions and are wont to feel bad when certain things happen. A friend of mine just found out she has cancer. No one told her to be happy. No one told her that her emotions are a choice. So why do we do that to people at other times in their life?
Emotions are normal. It is normal to feel bad, sad or just plain fucked off, at certain times in our life. The trick is not to void ourselves of all negative emotion. The trick is to manage our emotions in a reasonable way. The trick is to deal and move on. DEAL and move on. Not just move on. Deal first.
Some people forget that the dealing does actually take some time.
You would have to be a certain type of narcissistic sociopath if having a fight with someone (for example), didn’t negatively affect you in some way.
So… by all means, use this saying. But if you do, then the next time something bad happens in your life, I’m going to tell you to just choose to feel great!
After all, emotions are just a choice, aren’t they???