Did you know it’s normal to carry two very conflicting emotions at once?
But we’ve done ourselves a vast disservice about talking about emotion in the context of adversity and life change as a single emotion subject.
Someone dies: you feel only sadness.
Finding out a friend is pregnant: only joy.
Life with chronic pain: only misery.
But when we ignore the fact that this isn’t true, it can just muddle up all of our feelings that much more.
When we’re grieving a death, of course, the primary emotion is going to be sadness. But we may also find joy in old memories. As time moves on, we will live in a balance of carrying that grief and still experience happiness or having fun in our day-to-day.
But when society only talks about these situations as a one feeling situation, we feel guilty when other feelings creep in. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had conversations with grieving people who feel like they’re disrespecting the dead because they aren’t sad 100% of the time.
Let’s be clear that this can go both ways.
My husband and I are childless because of infertility. I’ve come to terms with our decisions and really couldn’t imagine my life any other way now. But I still feel only jealousy and even anger when other people announce their pregnancies.
I’m supposed to just put my feelings aside and be happy for them, right? I used to feel guilty for not being able to be happy for others. But after four miscarriages and no take-home baby of our own, that happiness just isn’t there for me. I have learned to articulate that it’s not that I’m not happy for them. I’m just more sad for myself.
You don’t have to be happy because society tells you that’s the only proper emotional response. You still have your own unique experiences that can shape how you respond to things.
I’m good at setting boundaries and sticking to them. Because of that, there are a few people I’ve cut out of my life. But because I don’t want to interact with them anymore, because they aren’t welcome in my house, doesn’t mean I can’t also miss the moments of goodness they brought with them.
Just because you no longer want someone in your life doesn’t mean you don’t miss them. I can’t remember where I heard that quote. But it’s another shining example of holding those conflicting emotions.
Here’s my advice to you: The next time you feel guilty for the emotion you’re having, ask yourself why.
Emotions are a normal reaction. Rarely is an emotion ever “wrong.” Do you feel guilty because you’re feeling the opposite of what society told you you should think in this situation?
Take a minute and resolve yourself of that guilt. Not only are you allowed to feel conflicting emotions, but it’s also perfectly normal.
As the Insta memes always say: “Feel the feels.”
Heyo! I’m Casey. I’ve got a Masters in Rehabilitation & Mental Health Counseling. As well as several flavors of neurodivergence. It’s my mission to help you integrate the lens of neurodivergence into your life in a way that allows you to grow and navigate change with confidence and intention.