When you’re going through withdrawals from sugar/coffee/shopping/drugs/excessive exercising/codependent relationships/technology/any kind of addiction you may have, logic goes out the window. There’s no amount of explaining and understanding that makes the emotions you feel any less real.
For the past few days, my friend has been moody, tired, and irritable. He’s not feeling like himself because he decided to stop eating refined sugar. I’ve done it before for a few months and it’s really hard! Sugar is in most bread, so you have to give that up too unless you make your own with honey.
Instinctually, I tried using logic, telling him that, “It’s normal. Getting off sugar is super difficult. Someone I knew (who used to use drugs) told me it’s like trying to quit cocaine.” This is also supported by research on sugar addiction. Check out the abstract here.
That was a bad move on my part! Telling him something he already knew didn’t make him feel better and I should have kept my mouth shut. What I inadvertently did was invalidate his feelings and probably made him feel worse! After that, I didn’t provide anymore unsupporting support and the rest of the day went much more smoothly.
It’s surprising that even for someone like me (who relates to people/things more emotionally than logically), I reacted opposite of how I normally behave. I really know better than this. I wonder where I learned this bad behavior from…that’s for another post…
As someone who is highly emotional and aware of my highly emotional tendencies, I know that there’s nothing anyone can say to make me feel any differently. I’ve learned to simply stay away from people when I’m in a bad mood. A few hours away or good night sleep usually does the trick and no one is harmed in the process!
As self-created/unreal/temporary emotions may be (as I’ve heard argued by some people), the point is that feelings are real to the person feeling them. Most of the time, what someone is feeling has nothing to do with me and I need to respect that. It’s narcisstic to think that I should/could change someone else’s feelings, much less use logic (which I am no good at) to do it!
The next time someone is feeling down, I will remind myself that:
- He/she trusts me enough to share their feelings with me
- He/she is not asking to be “fixed”
- All I can do is bear witness to his/her feelings.