Have you ever shared something wonderful in your life with someone, only to find that their response was either underwhelming or the opposite of what you expected? It’s hard not to let their reaction squash your joy, or make you fearful of sharing openly with others in the future.
The same can happen when you share something unfortunate. You might fear that you’ll upset the other person. That your personal feelings will become a burden to them, weighing them down, and hurting them.
Today I want you to let go of that nonsense. Neither your sadness nor your joy is a burden to others.
What someone decides to do with your emotions is not actually your problem. And here’s why:
When someone reacts to you with anger, fear, or hurt because of what you've shared - whether it’s happiness or sorrow- that's them running up against some of their own sadness, anger, or fear that they don't feel ready to confront yet. That's not really your emotion they're reacting to. It’s their own.
Try to remember a time when you’ve been in their shoes. I’ve been there! Plenty.
A long time ago, a friend I went to college with told me that all of her student loans were paid off. What great news! Except, I couldn’t summon the enthusiasm to really support her. I felt like hell.
- It wasn’t my friend’s fault that I knew it would likely be more than ten years before my own loans were paid off.
- It wasn’t my friend’s fault that I hadn’t made the smartest financial decisions in college.
- It wasn’t my friend’s fault that we went into college under different circumstances, or that I pursued grad school right after.
Do you see? It wasn’t her fault that I reacted to her joy with sadness.
If you keep a lid on your success, your desires, and your happiness out of fear that someone else will have to confront their own experiences and stories, then you deprive many other people of inspiration.
If you hide your pain out of fear that someone else will have a light shone on their own, then you deprive them of a chance to heal, or experience empathy. You deprive those that would support you from being able to lend their support.
By all means, be discreet and be kind when circumstances call for it. But don’t waste your energy and live your life constantly censoring your sadness, or your joy, thinking that you’re protecting the rest of the world. You're not. You're only hiding.
You are not responsible for how other people choose to respond. Your experience of life is no one’s burden.