This post is also available in: French
Since splitting up with his girlfriend, Frédéric has been a little down. He has the odd good day, but it feels like the black clouds are never very far away. So much reminds him of Jacynthe, not least of which is their apartment, where he still lives. It’s not just that he misses his ex; he misses the things they were planning to do together, like going to Argentina next summer, or buying a condo once they saved enough money.
You’re 28. You have your whole life ahead of you!
his parents tell him to try to reassure him.
I’ve been arguing with Laurie all the time lately. You aren’t missing anything. Relationships are a lot of trouble!
his brother says.
What are you complaining about? You’re free! Take my word for it as a married woman; there are days I would give anything to be single again, to do whatever I want, and to meet new people.
his best friend says.
T’as une job, t’as la sYou have a job, you have your health, you have money, what more do you want? Think of all the people in difficulty or in poverty. They don’t have time to invent problems. Start appreciating what you have!
an exasperated colleague says.
As he hears the people around him telling him he’s upset about nothing and that he’s ungrateful to complain on a full stomach, he starts to believe it too. When he feels sadness rise up inside him, he tries to ignore it or tells himself it is selfish to spend so much time focusing on his breakup. After all, lots of people have problems, and they don’t spend all their time complaining. They get up every morning and go to work!
But it doesn’t bring him any comfort. On the contrary: on top of feeling sad, he now feels guilty. And like a pink elephant you’re not supposed to think about, all the effort he puts into ignoring his pain only makes him think more about his breakup.
Then one fine day, while poking around on social media, he spots an unassuming post. One sentence on a square of colour: You have the right not to feel good. Seemingly mundane words, but they hit him head on. For the first time, rather than trying to superficially boost his morale, someone (a stranger, no less!) has heard his sadness and told him it’s normal and legitimate.
From that point on, Frédéric starts to treat his emotions differently, not as an enemy to do battle with, but as something fleeting, that needs to be listened to for a while, until time does its work, and the sadness moves on.
Not everyone reacts the same way to a similar problem. That’s normal. But when someone is experiencing “negative emotions,” a common reflex is to run away from them or want to control them. But every emotion has a reason for being. Emotions teach us about ourselves; our expectations, values, needs, etc. Keep in mind that by welcoming your emotions as they present themselves and naming them, it is easier to adapt to situations you experience. Try it! You’re entitled!