by John Hampton
Stop telling people not to feel.
This last fall was the first election I’ve been able to vote in, and it was a doozy. It stirred up feelings for me, but everywhere I looked, people seemed to be saying, “Don’t worry, the world isn’t ending.”
Which stirred up more feelings for me: disbelief, disappointment, anger.
Because what I was hearing was, “Hey, I see how you’re feeling. But here’s why you shouldn’t feel the way you are feeling: (insert reasons for why people shouldn’t feel the way they are feeling.)”
You know what’s worse, though? People who invoke God as the ultimate emotional shut-down: “God is in control.” As if that’s even helpful.
Here’s the thing. If a surgery on my leg didn’t go right, and it hurts every time I take a step, a reminder that God is in control doesn’t do shit for my pain. You’re just being an ass.
So let’s try this again. Donald Trump is our president, and I’m upset.
I’m upset for people who have experienced oppression and are now experiencing even more. People who are afraid. People who have reasons for being afraid. People who know what they’re talking about when they express their fear. People who need to be seen and heard and believed. Especially when it makes you uncomfortable.
So stop telling people not to react. Let them process this. Be there for them, not to tell them to not worry because everything will be fine, but to show them that you care for them, that you support them, and that you believe them.
Because no matter what your intentions, people don’t need to hear that their emotions are misplaced because your world isn’t ending. What they do need to hear, should you choose to say anything, is something more like this: “I’m thinking of you. I care about you. You matter.”