Part of being a grown-up is learning to deal with adult emotions. As we age, our emotions become more complex, as do the situations surrounding and leading to those emotions. To be a healthy person, we have to learn to deal with these emotions as they come, to move through them, rather than bottling them up and freaking out later. There are numerous ways to learn to handle feelings in a mature fashion, many of which will be talked about on this blog. This post won’t really deal with any of them, though.
This post, rather, is more of a opinion piece. My opinion, based on events that I have witnessed in real life.
I think that another part of being a grown-up is exercising good judgment, having appropriate manners, and knowing the time and place for certain actions. Sometimes you need to repress an emotion or two, just until you’re somewhere where you can deal with it. For example, your chiropractor’s office is not the appropriate place to storm in, throw your stuff across the room, and burst out crying – and I don’t mean a solitary tear leaking out, I mean bawling like a toddler. Nor is it really appropriate to unburden yourself on the receptionist (even if he/she seems so understanding), describing your problems in detail, such as your marital difficulties or that pesky bowel issue.
No, dear reader, these are some feelings that should be reserved for the inside of your home or the sympathetic shoulder of your BFF. Except the bowel issue. That should be discussed with your doctor. (Doctor, not doctor’s office manager. There is a difference.)
Maybe I’m being mean… nah, I don’t think so. I think that if you’re old enough to drive a car, vote, and buy a beer, then you’re old enough to exercise a little discretion when it comes to opening the emotional floodgates. Yes, emotions are good, and no, you shouldn’t usually repress them. But there’s a difference between being emotionally healthy and making everyone around you feel uncomfortable.
So when you’re about to open up to someone, ask yourself a few questions:
1. Is this person being paid to listen to my problems (ie. therapist, psycholgist, hairdresser)?
2. [If the first answer is "no'] Did this person ask me to tell them about my trials and tribulations, emotional upheaval, relationship difficulties, intestinal disturbances, overbearing mother, etc?
3. [If "no" to 1 and 2] Is this person my spouse/partner, mother, dear sibling, or openly acknowledged best friend?
If the answer to any one of these questions is “yes,” then by all means, kick of your shoes and let it rip! But if you answered no to all three, then I would advise keeping your angst to yourself, at least until you’re with someone who does fall into one of the above categories.