by Kimberly Alexander, M.S.
So, I have a pet peeve since I’ve been in this field training to be a psychologist. It irritates me when I speak to friends about stressful experiences and they say something like “Well you’re “doing psychology”, you shouldn’t get that upset at the situation, you know better!” Essentially, there are these very faulty assumptions that I have come across on repeated occasions that make me think I am not entitled to the same emotional experiences as others not “doing psychology.” And how do I respond during these moments? Perhaps “angry” would best describe it.
I’m angry that people have this expectation and assumption of me. Why should I not feel emotional from time to time? Do they think I’m a robot? I say to myself that people… at the very least, the people I care about MUST not say these things to me because when they do it means there is “something wrong” with me. That maybe I really should NEVER be upset about anything.
To be honest, there are so many problems with this way of thinking. The reality is that at the most fundamental level, people are always entitled to their opinion. Therefore, I cannot change these expectations and assumptions others have of me. If I pull myself out of the situation for a moment, I think that there are always assumptions we hold about others based on their profession that may or may not be accurate to how they think of themselves. Case in point, one might think that a famous performer shouldn’t be nervous when performing but in fact I have seen many interviews in which performers speak candidly about how they get over their “stage fright”.
Next problem with this way of thinking is, why MUST there be something wrong with me because of others’ assumptions? Maybe now to pull a bit of knowledge from my training, everyone is entitled to experiencing the full range of emotions. Intense emotions become problematic when the beliefs we have about our stressors also lead to impairment in parts of our lives or hinder our goals. When looking at the things I might “fuss” about at times, I definitely don’t see impairment or a hindrance of goals. Maybe an occasional setback or obstacle but that’s all a part of life and I don’t remain upset about this for a substantial amount of time or else I wouldn’t get anything done!
I guess what all this comes down to is, sometimes, I would just like to vent. Not be given a whole bunch of solutions or criticized for being upset. But just because venting is sometimes therapeutic for me, I can’t demand that others provide that space because there is no reason they must. And in the event that they do not provide that space for me, it doesn’t mean that something is wrong with me, it just means that I either need to accept my family and friends as they are and find appreciation for the support that I do receive from them or advocate for my needs because I know my family and friends will always seek to support me to their best ability.