“Policing what feelings and experiences are legitimate for others to have is crossing a line. Manage your feelings and let others manage theirs: Don’t be the ‘legitimacy’ police.” ~Lisa Merlo-Booth
Seldom are two different people impacted by the same thing in the same way. What one person may be offended by another person may laugh off, and what another person laughs off would result in anger and hurt in a third person. These differences make things interesting in our world, and they are not a problem—until others make it an issue.
However, dismissing, minimizing, or shutting down another person’s experience or feelings does create a tremendous problem. No one gets to determine what another person “should” feel. You get to feel your emotions, and others get to handle theirs. No feeling is right or wrong, and no one is the judge of whether or not another person’s feelings are legitimate or not.
Absolute equality in relationships extends to viewing the feelings and experiences of all human beings as equally important to your own—even if you don’t or wouldn’t feel the same. You are responsible for providing every human being with the space and grace to have their own experiences. Agreeing with their interpretation or reaction is not necessary, however minimizing their feelings is not okay: “That’s silly”; “You’re too sensitive,”; “Oh my gosh, it’s not that big a deal”! When it comes to emotions and experiences, you don’t get to decide what’s “important,” “right,” or okay for others to feel, and nor do they get to do the same with you.
Stay on your side of the line when it comes to how others feel about what happens to them, what they experience, and how they react to what life throws at them. Be a shoulder to lean on, a backboard to toss ideas at, or a resource to help them troubleshoot (if they ask). Do not, however, tell them or allow them to tell you what is and is not okay to think, feel, or respond.
- Do not be the judge and jury of another person’s feelings and experiences.
- Give others the space and grace to feel their feelings, and be sure they give you the space and grace to do the same.
- Treat the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of everyone in your inner circle as honoring as you would have them treat yours.