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It’s Ok to Hate the Feelings

What a week!! I feel like I have been on an emotional roller coaster this week! And for a brief respite this weekend, I feel like the never-ending mercy game has been paused. 

Last night, I watched David Chappelle’s opening monologue on Saturday Night Live. I like him because he always makes me think. He talked about how even though the majority of the country is feeling joy and hope right now, many people are feeling disappointment, disenfranchisement, and sadness.

He said,

“I know how that feels; we all know how that feels.
But the difference between me and you. 
You guys hate each other for those feelings, and I don’t hate anybody.
I just hate that feeling! 
That’s what I fight through, and that’s what I suggest you fight through.
You got to find a way to live your life.
You got to find a way to forgive each other. 
You got to find a way to find joy in your existence despite that feeling.” 

Every cell in my body screamed YES! YES! YES!

The world is complicated, and I certainly don’t know how to fix it. I know it requires people to respect each other, challenge each other, talk to each other, and allow those feelings. In conversations with friends and family, we want clear cut answers. We want a simple formula that will lead the way.

Nothing is a simple formula; our collective anxiety won’t be solved with a simple formula; neither will our personal anxiety. The only way through is acknowledging those feelings, hating the feeling, not the people.

The world is complicated, and I certainly don’t know how to fix it. I know it requires people to respect each other, challenge each other, talk to each other, and allow those feelings. In conversations with friends and family, we want clear cut answers. We want a simple formula that will lead the way. 

I am tired of COVID-19. I am irritated that the holidays have been turned on their heads. I am heartbroken that I won’t spend Thanksgiving with my family in Chicago this year. I am frustrated with wearing a mask anytime I leave the house. But rather than acknowledging my many complicated feelings, I tend to jump between blaming others and self-blame. I blame people for not taking COVID seriously, and then I blame myself for being too scared. When I pause and remind myself to slow WAY down, I can say to myself, wow, I hate the feelings COVID brings up. I don’t hate the people. In remembering this concept, I can allow those feelings and then I can find a way through them. I can see a bigger picture. Blame (both self and others) keeps us stuck.

The same holds for the many problems facing the United States. We tend to blame THEM (whoever they are) for the problems. Democrats blame Republicans. Republicans blame Democrats. And even within the parties, there is blame and division. But the solutions will only be found when we acknowledge our feelings. Personally, things shifted when I started owning my shame, regret, and uncomfortableness about how I viewed my privilege. Going one level, deeper things shifted, even more, when I acknowledge my feelings of defensiveness, frustration, and sorrow at seeing my role in systemic racism. It is freaking hard and UNCOMFORTABLE! But allowing the feelings stopped me from spinning between blaming others and blaming myself. I could recognize I hated the feelings this issue brought up. I didn’t hate the people. I hated the feelings. And after allowing those feelings I could then look for solutions, look for a way through.

This idea translates into our everyday lives. We blame our partners for not being empathetic enough when, in reality, we aren’t giving ourselves empathy. We hate our partner rather than hating the feelings of distress or agitation that we might be feeling. Or we are angry at a friend for being too demanding when we haven’t also acknowledged that we are really feeling frustrated that we haven’t spoken up. Taking that one level deeper, we aren’t acknowledging the shame we feel for feeling frustrated with our friend, so we hate them instead of hating the feelings.

The world is messy. I know the way out is acknowledging the feelings. 

 It is not ok to hate others. 

It is not ok to hate ourselves.

It IS ok to hate those feelings.