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Emotion denied

Earlier today I came across a post with the picture from below. It is quite possibly the worst post I have seen about mental health on Facebook where there are many contenders.

So let's look at the generational message. Your generation is weak because you given sweets. We were punished properly. Your generation had it easy and is simply weak. We would be hit and knew how to take it. We were hit and it didn't do us any harm. So no, we are not the same. We had it tough and became tough.

But that is subsidiary to the main message. Crying is weak. You should not cry, parents don't want put up with your emotional outbursts. Cut it (your emotion) out. We know that there are others who have it harder than us, and so we have nothing cry about. We will suppress our emotion. We won't tell anyone how we feel. We are not weak. Ultimately this individual associates emotion with pain, both bad.

Yet the first paragraph is exactly the same. Don't cry. I will give you a treat if you do not display your emotion. But it gets much worse. Whenever you cry you are given sweets to stop crying. You learn to associate being upset with food or shopping - treating yourself. So instead of allowing yourself emotion you take pleasure from eating or spending money. Emotion bad, comfort eating good.

There is a third way. When upset we can accept our children's emotions. Validate it and listen to them. We can talk through their experience and help them deal with it. We can show them there is nothing wrong or shameful about crying. They will learn to talk about their issues when older without fear or shame. They will understand their emotions instead of denying them.

So when you read comments such as the one below, don't click like or share. Think of the harm the message is giving and how that message will remind someone who is struggling that they cannot talk or reach out. Think about the third way, validate and help people who are struggling.

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