“Think positively!”, she said, while her behaviour was absurdly negative

Facing rejection and emotional distress. Express your emotions and honour yourself

I recently joined an art-class. It was my first, part of an ongoing course destined to multiple levels. When I arrived, some of the regular participants were already there, sat at their usual places, with their brushes ready, and waiting for the teacher to arrive.

When entering the classroom, I greeted everyone present and looked for a spot. The room was small for the current covid context and there were already three people present. I was the fourth and another participant was expected. Counting the teacher, we would have been six people in a very small room. Being risk aware, I was wearing my mask but since the room was very small, more people were expected and no one was wearing a mask, I asked the participants if I could open one of the windows to allow some airing. To my bewilderement, the participants refused, saying that it would be too cold. I was concerned for my health, especially with the Delta variant and the asymptomatic people, vaccinated or not. I understood that keeping a window open might be uncomfortable, although it was not cold outside; it was actually a beautiful autumn day; so I asked them to at least wear a mask. They refused again. I insisted and gave some of the reasons of my concern. I was counting on their understanding and their empathy.

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com

The lady sitting at the same table as me refused bluntly. She argued that she was double vaccinated and for her there was no issue. I told her that even one who is double vaccinated can get infected and can pass the virus on. I had already a case in the family, a close person of mine got infected from an asymptomatic double vaccinated person who was carrying the virus, and unfortunately she passed away. When I told this to the unwilling lady she said she prefered to think positively about the virus as sometimes we attract the negative upon ourselves. In other words, think positive and you will be protected. I couldn’t believe my years! This lady was serving me the positivity lecture, when her behaviour was nothing than positive. I felt angry and disrespected. I felt my aunt’s passing was being disrespected. She had been one of the most positive people I had ever known.

I was perplexed. I felt sad, frustrated, disrespected and more to the point, rejected. It was the first time for me in that art-class and I was wandering whether I was belonging there. For a moment I thought of leaving the premises. The weekly art class was taking place in a small room and I wasn’t feeling safe, respected or welcome. The group was already formed and probably people were reluctant to make any changes to the way they were behaving.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Luckily, one of the participants who had just arrived decided to go to a different room upstairs. She felt as well that the room was simply too crowded and she was as well concerned for her safety. I followed her example and joined her. I opened the window for airing whilst she left the room to fill her painting jars with some water. The teacher had no problem to come to the second room to give me explanations, so it was sorted. He was adapting his teaching anyway to the level of each participant. I was finally feeling safe, the room was aired and both the teacher and the other lady in the room were wearing masks. I was thankful. But before preparing my brushes and watercolours, I had to take a moment for myself.

Photo by Roman Kirienko on Pexels.com

The blunt rejection, the inflexibility shown, the condescendent tone of voice, the redundant positivity speach, the indiference, all on top of the sudden death of my aunt was too much. I burst into a waterfall of tears. I was no longer able to talk. And I cried and I cried and I cried and let it all out. Only after I acknowledged and expressed my emotions, I could finally calm down and concentrate on paiting. Only after I let myself traversed by all these emotions, I could get my attention back.
In the end I took part to the art-class and learned some watercolour techniques.

Now, some time after the incident, I am thinking since that lady was so concerned with positivity, how come she wasn’t behaving positively? Wasn’t her speech simply absurd, compared to her behaviour? How come she did not show any compassion, care and maybe a little bit of collaboration, since she was so concerned with positivity?

The lessons learned?

  • Keep setting boundaries and express your needs.
  • Insist on your needs.
  • And when faced with inflexibility, refusal and emotional overwhelm, don’t bottle up your emotions, while pretending that nothing had happened for the sake of productivity.
  • If you deny your emotions, you will only harm yourself, sooner or later. Unexpressed emotions lead either to emotional outburst, thus an explosion or an emotional implosion, expressed through somatic symtoms and even disease.
  • Instead of emotional denial, just let yourselved traversed by your emotions , let them be, so you can be able to process them, understand your needs and the appropriate actions to be taken. And later on you will be able to refocus.

Read also:

Need to reflect, but going around in circles?

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Author: Gabriela D. Spencer

I support you to Balance your overall Well-being, be it physical, emotional, relational or social through Life Coaching and Laughter Yoga. My aim is to ‘support you to help yourself’ as you are the only expert of your life. My interests include positive psychology, body-mind balancing techniques, stress management, well-being and connecting with one’s inner child. I am a Multi-potential and an ISFP (according to the latest tests, but who knows). I write and express myself whenever my mind is bursting with thoughts and emotions. Read me mostly in Romanian and sometimes in English.

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