Don’t Tell Me How to Feel


If you are going to tell me how I SHOULD be feeling– there’s a good possibility that I’ll want to throat chop you.

Sounds kinda harsh, Holly. Did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed? Got your panties in a twist? Forgot to drink your cup of coffee today?

Want to know what sounds harsh to ME??

Someone thinking they have the right or the God given responsibility to tell another person how they SHOULD feel. The thing about feelings is that they vary from person to person. So, even if two people experience similar situations or circumstances those two people can feel two totally different ways. Most of the time though, I’ve found that the person telling me how I should feel hasn’t experienced the same thing as me, but wants to be helpful.

Let me give you some personal examples:

I’m 30 years old and single. Please don’t tell me that I shouldn’t be sad, discouraged or angry. I don’t care if you’re 80 and still single or have been married since you were 18– there are days I’m going to grieve my singleness. There are going to be days that I feel like I’m going to be single forever. And there are most certainly days when I’m angry about it. Angry at God (as silly and stupid as that may be). Angry at myself for whatever fault I think it is keeping me this way. Or angry at you because you’re NOT single.

Nothing pisses me off more (seriously though) than someone who’s been married forever telling me how I should feel as a single person. It’s like nails on a chalk board annoying.

Another huge area people like to give the should/shouldn’t feeling guidelines in is grief. I lost someone very dear to my heart 7 years ago. Each day has not made that loss any easier.

Not one ounce easier.

In fact, some days it is harder. Much, MUCH harder.

“But, Holly, you said it was over 7 years ago. You shouldn’t still be grieving. Get over it.”

Let me give you some insight into grief, if you’ve never lost someone that you loved very much. Time does not make that loss easier because everyday takes you one day farther from the last time you were with them. One day farther from the last time you felt their embrace. One day farther from the sound of their voice on the other end of the phone. It means you’re not able to experience things with them that you were hoping to or celebrate milestones you thought they’d be present for.

I know some of you may be thinking one of the following:

  • She must be exaggerating or misinterpreting what people say.
  • She must be super sensitive.
  • People are right.
  • Holly is bitter. To this one I say, there is a difference between bitterness and passion and this is one of those circumstances where my passion for a topic may come across sounding bitter.

Even if any of the previous statements were true, and they may be, I still don’t think it gives a person a right to tell me how to feel.

There is no “right” or “wrong” way to feel because feelings are subjective.

It’s OK to feel angry. Being angry is NOT a sin. Don’t believe me? Check out Ephesians 4:26. By the way, Jesus got angry. He got angry at those prostituting the temple and at the Pharisees for their hardened hearts. Being angry, in an of itself, is not a sin.

It’s OK to feel disappointment.

It’s OK to feel sad.

It’s OK to feel excited. Ya, there are even some people who like to rain on other’s parades and tell them they shouldn’t be happy or excited about something because it might not work out like they had hoped.

When we tell someone how they should feel we are shaming them. We are classifying their feelings as illegitimate and that’s got to stop. It’s fine if you don’t understand the feelings or can’t relate to them most of the time, as I’ve stated in my previous blog post (Cliches, Platitudes & Useless Advice), people just want a listening ear. They want to be heard and loved regardless of whatever feelings they may be having.

So, no more “shoulds”, okay? I’m not afraid to use that throat chop, if I need to–just don’t make me. 😉