I’m not sure if you have ever noticed that after a break-up, people, even professional therapists see fit to give you what I like to call canned advice. It’s not new, it’s not Earth shattering and it doesn’t often help. Many times it’ s the same stuff I have been hearing since childhood. When I hear it now it just kind of makes me angry and perpetuates a delusion I have about myself that something is wrong with me. When I was a child I didn’t question what I was told because I didn’t have a choice, so I squashed what I was feeling and did what I was told. Now that I am older and do have a say in the matter I realize that the advice I was given by my elders was the same advise they were given and so on and so on . . .
Here are some examples:
Grin and bare it
There are plenty of fish in the sea
Don’t feel bad ~ Don’t be sad
Time heals all wounds
It was his fault, he had too much baggage
Looking good is the best revenge
Just let it go
You’ll be fine
You’ll get used to it
If you’re going to cry go to your room
He’ll get his
Put on a happy face
Think about something else
Just move on
Distract yourself with other things ~ Don’t think about it now
He isn’t worth it
What comes around goes around ~ What you put out comes back to you
I think all this advice culminates into one strong statement: Do anything except feel what you are feeling!
I also know the advice comes from a good place. People feel uncomfortable when they see others in pain. I think this is mostly true because they aren’t used to it, weren’t allowed to experience it and now believe it should be dispensed with as quickly and as efficiently as possible. In fact it seems that people really only want you to show your bright side in the world so if you’ve got any grieving to do it should be done alone or in the presence of a paid therapist, it’s sad but it’s what we’ve learned.
I have decided to unlearn what I was taught and go back to look at what I have accumulated because I haven’t allowed myself to experience the full range of feelings I was born with. I relied on the canned advice I was given and I don’t want to do that anymore. I’m going to decide for myself what is appropriate even if it goes against the grain of conventional wisdom!
What kind of canned advice have you been given after a loss or break up that persuaded you to ignore what was really going on inside?