No matter what else may be happening, I always have a right to my feelings.
I’ve seen a few articles lately called things along the vein of “You don’t have a right to your opinion” and I agree with these articles. No, you don’t inherently have a right to voice your opinion on things you know nothing about. Particularly when the argument is your opinion vs cold hard facts.
I’ve also noticed that some of the time people tend to incorrectly equate others not having a right to their opinions as not having a right to their feelings, and that’s simply not true. We all feel things, and we all are the authority on our own feelings.
It wasn’t until I read this article 10 Things I Wish I’d Known About Gaslighting that it became incredibly clear to me that there is a huge difference between opinions and feelings.
It is ridiculous when someone tries to tell you who you are, what you feel, what you think, what you intended, or what you experienced. When it happens, you should be angry, puzzled, or maybe even concerned for them. You might stop, stunned, and ask “what would make you think that you could know what’s inside of me? Are you OK?” Instead, many of us will find ourselves trying to reach understanding. No, that’s not what happened, that’s not what I felt, that’s not what I feel! And this is a reasonable response, to a point. But if the goal of the conversation is to exchange power, and not to exchange understanding, you will never ever ever win.
Often in relationships, friendships, work environments or social engagements we are confronted with people telling us how we feel, what we think, what we meant by what we said or did. It happens with such regularity I think many of us don’t even notice anymore. I have been accused of feeling and thinking all sorts of things I don’t. I have been accused of motivations that are certainly not my own.
I’ve noticed it the most with writing.
It seems opinion pieces can blur the line between opinions and feelings, and that’s only natural. In many ways your opinions and your feelings are incredibly intertwined, a statement of opinion (“I like dogs”) can very closely be linked with an emotion (“they make me happy”) and this, if you go by this recent article about opinions being wrong, is a valid way to have an opinion. Perhaps the only valid way to have an opinion.
But here’s the thing:
No one else can tell you how you feel.
No one else can tell you how you think.
Your feelings cannot be wrong, or disagreed with.
Yes, your feelings may be unfounded. Your view of a situation may not be entirely accurate to the truth of the situation at hand. Other people may feel differently about what has happened, they may think your reaction is wrong or your feelings unjustified. But there is no such thing as your feelings being wrong.
No one has the right to tell you what you feel is wrong.
You have a right to your feelings.
Have you ever had someone argue with your feelings? Have you ever been told what you feel is wrong?