There is a statement going around, that honestly makes me cringe just about every time I hear it. “They’re in their feelings.”
It’s not so much the words that are spoken, it is usually the tone in which they are spoken. It usually sounds condescending, almost like mockery. It’s the tone you would use to kick someone while their down, because whatever the issue is, someone has it all together, while the other is losing it. We seem to do this as if we don’t understand what it means to feel something.
For the most part, emotional expression transcends culture. It’s as if our emotions are biologically expressed. For example, happiness in indicated with a smile while sadness is expressed with tears. Put on a grimace and fold your arms, you are angry; or show all your teeth and raise both fists in the air, you would be excited in any culture in the world. The overwhelming majority of us can not only identify any given emotion, but we can also identify WITH any given emotion.
We all know what it feels like to be frustrated or to grieve or to be ashamed. Why would anyone compound someone’s negative emotions, by making them feel worse for feeling them at all? Empathy, the ability to understand and share in the feelings of others, seems to a the missing piece to our current cultural puzzle. I honestly don’t understand it. Why is it so wrong to feel?
I believe it becomes increasingly important to display true empathy when other people are going through. It allows people to feel what they are feeling, without any looming judgment about WHY they are feeling what they are feeling. Notice, I’m talking about empathy and not sympathy. Sympathy is rooted in the why. It’s filling yourself with a separate, yet projecting emotion; pity. Empathy doesn’t feel sorry for others, it feels the grief, sadness, or anger WITH others. It does so because, again, we ALL know how these emotions feel.
While dealing with negative emotions, no one wants pity. At the same time, no one wants to be made to feel wrong for simply feeling an emotion. For the most part, it is not our responsibility to judge WHY people are feeling anything. This is why the #BLACKLIVESMATTER movement causes so much contention. People are angry, and frustrated, and people don’t have to understand why in other to express empathy. When done genuinely, empathy becomes a powerful tool for relationship building and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul admonishes us to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” In other words, before you pass judgment on their reasons, share in their emotions. Doing this prevents you from looking arrogant, and insensitive. He goes on to say, “Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly.” Be full of humility, knowing that every person’s life, situations, and circumstances are different.
Let people feel. Don’t compound their negative energy, by judging them for it. Just let them feel, and let them know that you understand the feeling … even if you can’t understand the reason.
© 2016 Derek J. Murphy Enterprises, and I AM KINGDOM Publishing, All Rights Reserved.
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