75 Nice Things People Say
to Shut Up Your Feelings

by Melissa Karnaze

Someone trying to shut you up?

“How did your day go?”

“It was horrible.”

“Aw, cheer up. It’ll get better soon!”

“Cheer up” means, “don’t feel the way you do.”

It’s not the same as, “I’m sorry to hear that.” Or, “Can I do anything to help?” Or even, “I hope you feel better soon.”

It might even mean “I don’t want to hear about it.”

In which case, it’s an emotion-phobic exchange. Under the guise of casual politeness of course.

Emotion phobic communication

Such exchanges occur all the time. You just have to listen carefully to read between the lines.

Whenever you talk about how you’re really feeling or what you really think — and it happens to be negative — people get uncomfortable. (Granted, there are times when talking about such things is inappropriate or disrespectful.)

They might squirm, fidget, or attack you sideways.

They might also try to shut you up. Or put nicely, censor you, change the topic, distract you, or make it all seem like it’s a-okay.

We all deflect

If Vincent’s mad about a project at work. And Traci so happens to be in the same room. It’s not okay for Vincent to vent without Traci’s consent, let alone expect her to be receptive, concerned, or even able to listen.

But Vincent vents anyway. And Traci deflects his vent by saying, “Look Vincent, I have to pick up my mom from the airport in ten minutes. Do you want to talk about this problem later?”

In this situation, Traci sets a boundary.

We set boundaries all the time.

You’re not indefinitely available to other people whenever they want to vent about something. And no one is indefinitely available to you.


If someone asks you specifically how you are doing, what’s wrong, or what you think. And you tell them. And they deflect your thoughts and/or feelings.

They’re probably invalidating you instead of setting a boundary.

Because after all, they asked. They got what they asked for. They didn’t like it.

And now in defense they’re trying to tell you:

    • How you really feel,
    • What you shouldn’t feel,
    • What you should feel
    • What you will feel, or

It’s all very subtle of course.

Until you notice — then it’s glaring.

Are you being censored?

Anytime you talk about how some adversity (person, animal, situation, place or thing) upset, disappointed or wronged you, the other person will either:

    • Be comfortable hearing about it, all of it (e.g, your closest friend)
    • Be comfortable hearing about it, but only parts of it, or casually (e.g., an acquaintance)
    • Be comfortable telling you they’d rather not hear about it (like a healthy deflection)
    • Be uncomfortable hearing about it, but not tell you directly

It’s the last case the other person might say something that actually invalidates your feelings.

75 ways people say “I don’t want to hear about how you’re really feeling”

    1. Oh, it’s not so bad.
    2. It’s all good.
    3. Cheer up.
    4. Just let it go.
    5. Things will get better.
    6. Take a few deep breaths.
    7. Don’t worry, you’ll feel better.
    8. C’mon, you’re okay.
    9. Move on.
    10. Forgive and forget.
    11. Life’s too short to worry about this.
    12. There’s nothing you can do now.
    13. You can’t change it, so why worry?
    14. The past is the past.
    15. Don’t dwell.
    16. There’s no point fretting over it.
    17. It’s not worth it.
    18. You shouldn’t ruminate.
    19. You’re only going to make it worse by complaining.
    20. If you focus on the negative, you’ll be miserable.
    21. Don’t feed into it.
    22. Don’t let it take up your energy.
    23. Take the high road.
    24. Be the better person.
    25. Toughen up.
    26. Choose your battles wisely. (This shouldn’t count.)
    27. Oh, they didn’t mean it.
    28. What’s the big deal? (This shouldn’t be a big deal.)
    29. I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. (I don’t want to understand what the fuss is about.)
    30. Get some perspective. (Quit being so myopic.)
    31. Wow, how could you say/think/feel that? (I think it’s impossible for you to say/think/feel that.)
    32. You’re making this bigger than it is. (It’s a small thing.)
    33. You’re over-exaggerating. (It’s your problem.)
    34. You’re looking too much into it. (You’re causing yourself agony.)
    35. It’s not about you.
    36. Don’t take it personally.
    37. You shouldn’t have gotten wrapped up in it.
    38. It doesn’t mean anything.
    39. Don’t let it get to you.
    40. Don’t beat yourself up about it.
    41. Don’t let it ruin your day.
    42. This is trivial.
    43. They don’t matter to you.
    44. Don’t let them under your skin.
    45. Try to calm down.
    46. You have better things to do than get upset.
    47. Don’t be a drama queen.
    48. Don’t be such a baby.
    49. Don’t be so sour.
    50. You’re too sensitive.
    51. Your reaction doesn’t make sense.
    52. Try to stay logical.
    53. It’s best to stay level-headed.
    54. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you.
    55. You don’t really mean that.
    56. Think about what you’re saying here.
    57. Don’t say things you don’t really mean.
    58. Are you sure it wasn’t your fault?
    59. You co-created this situation — what’s the value in the lesson?
    60. Just send them love.
    61. Look on the bright side.
    62. Stay positive.
    63. Find something to be grateful for.
    64. Maybe it’s a good thing it happened?
    65. It’s your choice to feel/react/respond that way. (They’re off the hook for their actions.)
    66. I’m sorry you feel that way, because you shouldn’t.
    67. I’m sorry you misunderstood me.
    68. Well, no one’s perfect.
    69. Everyone makes mistakes.
    70. They did that to you because they’re acting out of fear. (That lets them off the hook.)
    71. They’re acting out of pain. (That lets them off the hook.)
    72. It’s their own stuff.
    73. You just need to [insert acitivty here].
    74. [Insert change of topic here.]
    75. Get a grip already.

“Something’s wrong with you.”

The examples above imply:

    • It’s a bad thing you’re feeling/thinking that way
    • The feeling/thinking is a problem
    • That problem needs to “go away”
    • You need to make that problem feeling/thinking go away (instead of addressing the problem that the uncomfortable feeling/thinking alerts you of)
    • If you don’t make that problem feeling/thinking go away, then
    • Something’s wrong with you
    • And things will get worse
    • So just stop feeling/thinking that way

It’s not about you

The problem with that logic is: You’re not the problem.

You may be temporarily experiencing a negative emotion. But it’s not the end of the world. (They only think it is.)

Your emotions may be alerting you to problems in your environment and/or your thinking. But you don’t have a problem with feeling the way you do. After all, you were comfortable enough with that feeling to share it!

The real problem is: They’re uncomfortable with how you’re feeling.

It’s the other person’s problem

Instead of looking at their own reaction and owning up to their own discomfort when you talk about something that’s “too” emotional — the other person blames you.

Makes it all your fault that they’re unwilling to get emotional, or to be fully present, or to genuinely accept that you feel the way you feel.

People who don’t want to experience their own negative emotions sure as heck don’t want you to express yours. Because then they might have to take response ability for their actions, connect with you, empathize, or get in touch with themselves — which they’ve (unconsciously) decided is way too painful.

You become someone else’s problem when you voice what they can’t accept in their own self.

Pay attention when someone deflects your feelings

Start to listen for those phrases in your every day. You’ll pick up on when people try to censor you.

You might decide not to let someone censor you. Or you might see how uncomfortable they actually are, and rethink how you can (casually) relate to them.

Emotion-phobic exchanges aren’t always the end of the world. Some might even be well-intentioned. But they can prick you when you don’t notice. So just pay attention.

Context matters too. You can’t pour your heart out to everyone. Emotional intimacy is exclusive, not open.

Just remember, you deserve better than emotional censorship.

And also remember, you’re capable of censoring yourself, too.

Have you been censored?

Do you hear any of the above phrases in your daily grind? Do you have any other phrases to add?

How do such phrases impact you?

How do you respond?

Do you want to learn more about how to work with your emotions? Sign up for the free e-class, Your Life is Your Construct.

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Willy February 18, 2011 at 10:41 pm

Hi Melissa –
Unless I am interacting with a therapist or someone I know won’t censor me, I’ve learned it’s best to automatically respond with an “I’m okay”. I understand it’s best to be very careful when it comes to expressing how you are truly feeling. I guess it would be best to take the risk in the company of whom you believe might be a close friend. How they respond (i.e., whether they censor you or not) might be a way to see/test how they feel about our relationship?

Steven | TEM February 19, 2011 at 9:07 am

It’s tough sometimes to not respond with cliche advice when people say they are down. A lot of people feel obligated to “help you” if you say you are having a bad day. Those “75 nice things” aren’t necessarily bad advice, but people hate to hear them if they are already in a negative mood. They want their negative feelings to be justified and they don’t want to (or have to) let them go. During most conversations, I try my best to just listen and acknowledge. I may not even reciprocate with a verbal response.

I’m usually fine with hearing people spout negativity, but I know my efforts to reverse that will often be null unless the person is actively seeking advice.

Melissa Karnaze February 19, 2011 at 9:28 am

I guess it would be best to take the risk in the company of whom you believe might be a close friend. How they respond (i.e., whether they censor you or not) might be a way to see/test how they feel about our relationship?

Yeah Willy, you can tell a lot about a relationship in how people respond to emotional honesty. And it’s mostly telling of a person’s relationship with theirself, because if they can’t accept their own emotions, they’ll have a hard time accepting others.

And the “response” doesn’t have to be a final statement on the relationship. You can always broach the topic with honesty that doesn’t put them on the defensive, and see what might happen. :)

A lot of people feel obligated to “help you” if you say you are having a bad day.

Right Steven, we’ve been conditioned to think in this codependent way. Like you say, you can’t help anyone who doesn’t want help.

Those “75 nice things” aren’t necessarily bad advice, but people hate to hear them if they are already in a negative mood.

Definitely, many of those statements are incredibly self-empowering if you’ve come to them (not forced them) after validating your negative emotions. Timing is really important.

Jack Bennett | 32000days February 19, 2011 at 11:25 am

As a coach, I often face situations where I feel like saying that a client “should” do something. It’s those situations where I bite my tongue as much as possible.

Instead, asking questions is a way to help others discover and uncover the possibilities for behavioral flexibility that they might not have otherwise noticed. It’s not perfect, and questions can be phrased as a “you should” in disguise.

But when they are deployed well, intelligent questions are far more effective than “advice giving”.

(And from a personal standpoint, being told how I “really feel”, or how I “should feel” is a foolproof way to push my buttons.)

Melissa Karnaze February 19, 2011 at 11:52 am

Jack, yeah it’s really hard not to “should” when you have ideas about what could help. In addition to being more effective, questions are so much more caring than a “should.” And a should can easily be replaced with, “Do you want to hear my perspective?”

My buttons get pushed too when people tell me how to feel — many of those phrases came from my aggravation!

Jenny February 19, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Another great post Melissa, thanks!

I’ve noticed that, in the more dysfunctional 12-Step groups, the expressions “It’s just your Ego” or “Is it just your Ego?” is a perennial favorite to negate any value to any misgivings a member may express about the way the group functions, even (especially) if the group is obviously dominated by sick, depressed and angry individuals who might benefit from a fresh perspective.

A variation on this theme is very common also in fundamentalistic religion and, apparently (though I have less experience of this myself) New Age groups. I suppose in a way these “recovery” or “therapeutic” or “spiritual” groups are just reproducing the “don’t talk, don’t trust, don’t feel” message of dysfunctional families of origin with their cult-like behavior.

Melissa Karnaze February 19, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Oh boy, Jenny, bring in the ego and there are tons more phrases that can be added.

Especially among New Age circles. The “Just send them love,” and “Why did you co-create this experience?” are “nicer” versions of “Karma sucks,” “You weren’t nice enough,” “Love and light is all there is — I don’t want to hear about anything else.”

So, so dysfunctional. And also the exact opposite of love, understanding, unity, light, or any other spiritual buzz word. And fortunately, successful only to a certain extent, because cult tactics fail to work once a person starts actually feeling for theirself.

Sara February 19, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Melissa, thanks for this great post. It can be easy to fall into the trap of censoring others with these statements…When people express negative emotions, often feel the need to “help” and sometimes a statement like the ones listed above may come out of my mouth. I think it’s important to build self-awareness by asking myself “why do I need to make this person’s negative emotion go away?” On the one hand, it’s because I care and don’t want other people to feel bad. but sometimes there is an underlying fear…if i don’t make his/her bad emotion go away, maybe he/she won’t like me and will reject me . So I “need” to have something smart to say to make things better. I need to “save” the other person.

Emotions are so important and need to be respected.

Melissa Karnaze February 19, 2011 at 1:46 pm

…sometimes there is an underlying fear…if i don’t make his/her bad emotion go away, maybe he/she won’t like me and will reject me . So I “need” to have something smart to say to make things better. I need to “save” the other person.

Definitely Sara, these are easily the undercurrents of relationships if you’re not mindful of how you are relating and want to relate. Bringing these topics out into the open can really make a difference and make it safer for both people.

Jack Bennett | 32000days February 21, 2011 at 5:53 am

@Sara, @Melissa
I think the fear of rejection can be a big factor in a lot of this – “if I don’t return this person to happiness quickly, then, in their low emotional state, they will make a decision to run away from me”.

I think an additional possibility is a combination of two factors – emotional avoidance, and blurry boundaries. In this case, it’s not so much a fear of rejection by the other person as it is an unwillingness to experience certain negative emotions, combined with a great susceptibility to the emotional state of others nearby. These factors together can be a powerful motivation for a person to attempt to manage the emotional state of everyone around them (to the great delight of the others, no doubt…).

For example, a boundaryless person who avoids their own sadness will experience a compulsion to “cheer up” a sad person in their environment because
(1) the strong emotion of sadness is especially contagious for someone with fuzzy personal boundaries and
(2) the person desperately wants to avoid the experience of that emotion. (Fill in anger, jealousy, or any other negative emotion as needed.)

Andy Mc February 21, 2011 at 5:30 pm

I had a 16yr old female client who I tried every angle on to get her to speak of her feelings/emotions. Other staff had the same difficulty. We were in danger of alleviating her difficult physical situation (homelessness etc) but not getting to the root of the problem. Finally, I took a gamble and said ” I have been working with you for 3 months but I don’t know you. I see you as a closed book” She just stared at me and her usual cool demeanor just dropped. With out going in to details, this was a defining moment in our working relationship. We have her in transition housing, she has returned to school. She now talks openly of her feelings as well as the daily chitter chatter of your usual 16yr old.

MicroSourcing February 21, 2011 at 9:37 pm

“It’s not so bad” is one of the most frustrating emotional advice you can get from anyone. Sometimes it require patience, and a willingness to accept the person’s feelings as valid.

Anon February 22, 2011 at 3:33 am

What you wrote in this post is so true, Melissa. And it can be so painful to hear those kinds of things from trusted others when I’m in a place where I just can’t lie anymore and say,”I’m fine, how are you?” So very painful. My last therapist used to emply these saying quite often. I once contacted him out of session when I was very distraught due to a traumatic anniversary. It was so bad that I somehow ended up with laryngitis even though I had not been ill (shut up, don’t talk, don’t tell). I used my last shred of strength to write to him in an email and I told him everything that was happening. Even though I could not speak, eat or get out of bed, his advice was to ‘have gratitude’.

I had a recent similar incident with my current therapist, only I was still able to speak. He said that he was sorry for what I am going through and that he cares about how I feel and that he believes in me. Very different.

Heidi February 22, 2011 at 8:08 am

Would love to see a followup post about how to listen and validate and ask the right kinds of questions. I tend to get into management and solving mode at times, too, and it would be so helpful to see some examples of how to be otherwise. Sometimes when I ask questions, I feel like I might be too intrusive, and I’m not sure what else to say. When it’s someone I’m close to, I can at least offer a hug or something like that, but it so often seems inadaquate.

Melissa Karnaze February 22, 2011 at 7:08 pm

Jack, that’s a great point — fear of rejection and lack of boundaries all wrap into the compulsion to censor or fix negative emotions. In watching your reactions to other peoples’ emotions, you can learn a lot about where you are at with your own emotions.

Andy Mc, thanks for sharing that breakthough, it really shows how asking about feelings has mostly become a superficial, casual matter. Young adults probably pick up on that very early on. I think people feel it’s a lot safer to open up when someone else wants to understand them, even if that means getting to know the parts that aren’t as happy or positive.

Anon, “have gratitude” is a callous response to emotional honesty, not to mention a cop-out for empathy. When used in that and similar contexts it’s a very vicious statement — total invalidation of the present moment. Relating to the last article — total invalidation of what mindfulness stands for.

A sad thing about gratitude (same goes for forgiveness) is how New Agey self help circles have taken it to the extreme, fitting it into some neat and story about God, soul contracts, and everything with a happy explanation/ending.

Heidi, thanks for the suggestion. It’s a big topic, I’ll think about more bite-sizes approaches that could work for articles. :)

Dani Meade February 23, 2011 at 11:10 am

There is a certain expression that I love! “How are you doing today?” Well, (depending on the situation) usually my response is something along the lines of “Well, how am I doing? What an interesting question! When I think about it, it’s really quite remarkable how I am doing. I’m breathing air to obtain oxygen, my five senses to make my way around the physical world and then I’m using my mind mind to comprehend what is within the realm of that which I can take in. And that’s only part of how I am doing today. Of course if I die tomorrow it could be a different story altogether… Come to think of it, just acknowledging that makes me feel exuberant! How are you doing today?”
Language: a wonderful tool- a dangerous weapon.

Great article Melissa-

Melissa Karnaze February 23, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Yeah Dani, “How are you?” is an odd question when you really think about it and pay attention to the social setup. People rarely want the “real” or more comprehensive answer and people rarely want to respond with it. I’ve sort of shifted to “How’s it going?” as an alternative but that’s not exactly specific either! Of course, “How are you?” can mean something entirely different when you know that the person asking wants to know how you are feeling, because they care. :)

Jack Bennett | 32000days February 24, 2011 at 9:26 am

I think “how are you?” or “how’s it going?” is one of those questions that is incredibly context dependent.

For example:

– Hearing this at the start of a business meeting, it means “Hello. Please tell me a couple of positive sentences about your life so that you will know that I’ve acknowledged you, and I’ll know that you’re ready to start our meeting.”

– Hearing this with tears in the eyes and a warm cup of tea in the hands, sitting in a soft armchair in a friend’s house, it means “Please tell me about the things that are upsetting you. Don’t hold back – you know that I care and that I really want to know how you’re doing”

Context is (almost) everything.

On the gratitude question, telling someone directly and bluntly to “have gratitude” is questionable.

It’s one thing to write a book or a blog post or a tweet broadcasting the general message that increasing one’s expression of gratitude (or forgiveness, or intention, or other typical New Age themes) is a practice that can lead to a greater level of subjective happiness over time.

It’s quite another thing to tell a person that their emotions are wrong and that instead they “SHOULD” be focusing on gratitude (or forgiveness, or …).

People feel what they feel. While it’s true that an increased focus on gratitude might cheer them up in the long term, in the short term a crappy mood is going to be exacerbated by telling them that their feelings are wrong and should be changed.

Andy R December 14, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Very useful reading on a topic I’m just finding I need! Boundaries, in particular.

So, what’s a positive or constructive way to respond when someone expresses emotions to us? Ask questions? Repeat back what they said and see if they want to say more?

in other words, I’d love to hear more about what to do, and not just what not to do. I realise I often say varations of all these 75, and try to cheer people up.

Helen December 20, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Wow. I have been living with a ‘spiritual healer’ in my life who ducks weaves and blocks. I thought it was me. Thankyou. I feel sane again after reading this.

Jlina December 23, 2011 at 4:56 pm

I think I need more “how to deflect?” I actually read this hoping to find some things to say to people who (in my head and heart) dump on me…..now they think that I’m just a nice sympathetic listener, but really, I find it traumatizing how very many people every day want to tell me their problems, from the grocery clerk to the gas pump. Even my best friend who recently had surgery and was going to be on a liquid diet, I said, oh that’s going to be like gastric bypass and suk! do you have a blender? And I got back – HOW would you know?? Have those people had a 6″ cut up their stomach, etc. I was speechless….

Sometimes it feels as if there is no comment, no value, no thing to say that will make someone who is about to blow feel any better at all. So then I wonder why they’re even talking to me??

Thanks – love the site! and the non facade re: happiness!

Kate January 26, 2012 at 4:21 pm

I just wanted to say, wow. I’ve never looked at it like that before and it helped me realize sometimes what people say isn’t how they actually mean it.

Tracy Hansen June 21, 2012 at 6:29 am

My friend says,”that’s too bad” when I share something that is bothering me.
It really throws me off and irritates the heck out of me.

Catherine Willikers September 19, 2012 at 7:00 am

This is exactly what I needed to hear. It doesn’t help me figure out who I can talk to, nor does it help me to know how to make myself a safe place for my sister to experience her own feelings. But now I can see the mechanism for what it is.

Those phrases were mysterious to me: how could such “good advice” shut me down? It’s like stealth. I suppose that my sister doesn’t even know quite what she is doing, and because of the underlying sibling rivalry (which we are evolving through as life goes on) I think she may get a little positive charge for “one-upping” me with the “stop worrying” kind of response.

I will be reading your other articles. Thank you for a fresh approach. I like to acquaint myself with the many new/old meditation-based life outlooks, but I’m not all happy and all functional yet, so I’m looking around for more thoughts on the subject!

Melinda December 3, 2012 at 12:59 pm

This is something that bothers me…it is so frustrating to open up to somebody and receive insensitive comments in return. And I’m not the type of person who constantly complains to others about my problems, so I don’t understand why my feelings are always being invalidated. I tend to hide my pain from everyone because no one cares anyway.

It also hurts because I’m a good listener. I have empathy and I listen if somebody wants to share their feelings with me, but it is rarely reciprocated. What really upset me was when I went to a therapist and she invalidated my feelings in nearly every session I had with her. Part of invalidation is denying that what a person feels or experiences is real. She refused to listen without judging and she would interrupt me to tell me that my feelings were wrong…basically shaming me for trying to seek help, which is why she probably shouldn’t be a therapist in the first place.

I understand that some people are uncomfortable when confronted with emotions (my husband is like this) but like I said, I don’t talk about my problems most of the time. I tend to hold it all inside. I’ve suffered from depression for years and at 30 years old, I am even more depressed at the thought that I will never find somebody to talk to because my feelings are constantly dismissed or invalidated.

So I appreciate this article because there is some helpful advice and insight. Some of the stuff I’ve heard from people…

1. You need to get over it and stop living in the past.

2. Take the high road. (my husband)

3. Toughen up. (my mother)

4. Save your tears. (my mother)

5. You have nothing to be depressed about.

6. Your only problem is your attitude.

7. Stop complaining/stop being a victim/woe is me.

8. You wouldn’t be depressed if you were more busy.

9. You need to be more grateful…other people have it worse.

10. Why should anyone care about you?

11. You’re delusional and what you’re saying is false.

12. You’re overly sensitive/too emotional.

13. You’re an adult…it’s time to grow up.

14. I didn’t see/hear people doing that to you, so it can’t be true.

15. Your perception isn’t reality (when I shared MY reality and MY feelings with the therapist, but she wouldn’t listen).

16. Depression is just an excuse for you to be lazy.

17. You have no reason to feel the way you do.

This past weekend, I had to care for my mother while my husband was out of town and somehow the subject of verbal/emotional abuse came up. When I was telling her about some terrible things that were said to me, she completely invalidated my feelings and hinted that I was lying. So yeah…being invalidated sucks.

Jason February 15, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Hey Melissa,

Great article. This is one of those topics on unspoken exchanges that I haven’t really seen discussed on the web. It’s like killing someones conversation with kindness because you don’t have time for their emotional baggage at the moment. Very spot on.

I think even the most empathetic people are guilty of this from time to time. Still, it’s nice to see this post bring light to it and make us a little more aware of how actively we’re listening to others. Thanks.

CC1982 August 10, 2013 at 7:39 am

I feel that it is important for people to talk about their negative feelings to help release them and heal. However, some people are miserable for what seems like almost all the time and their life just seems like it is so full of drama, then come to find out many of their problems were self- inflicted. If someone can not learn from their mistakes and is a drama or problem creator, then I will bluntly say that I do not feel empathy for them since they have control to stop the nonsense of making problems. Sometimes I will try giving advice, but it just seems like they want someone to either agree with them that they are not in the wrong, or they want people to feel sorry for them. On the other hand, o do listen and have empathy for people who have troubles that they had no control over. I will say this one last thing though, dwelling on problems for too long is never good.

CC1982 August 10, 2013 at 7:45 am

By the way, I am the type that will listen and give advice when people talk about their emotions and problems to me. But different people have different reactions to what I say. And no, I am not insensitive about how I say it unless they are the type that create problems and continue talking about it and keep digging their hole deeper. But that’s just me.

Stephanie October 20, 2013 at 3:30 pm

I just found your site and I’m glad I found your website and this list. Here are other examples of emotional censorship that I’ve experienced: “Don’t be negative” and “You’re too negative” and “Don’t think like that. Be positive” and “You’re just being negative (meaning none of what I am saying/feeling/concerned about could be possible or valid)” and “(Just) pray about it.” Valid feelings, thoughts, concerns, misgivings, etc. are minimized that way by people who can’t relate to the concern and don’t want to just admit that, so instead they blame the person who is sharing the concern for bringing it up. This is yet another example of basically being told “Don’t talk about that. I don’t know what to say, because I can’t relate to your problem, situation or feelings, or because I don’t like that subject, it’s out of my scope of experience and I don’t have a clue what a problem or feeling like that must be like, so I wish you would just not talk to me about it, etc.” Being emotionally censored has taught me to censor myself, even in my own mind, so I don’t know what I think or feel much of the time. Thanks again for your list.

Lne November 6, 2013 at 8:19 pm

This is almost good advice save for the list which basically includes many uninterested responses and an almost equal amount of completely healthy and likewise appropriate replies.

One of the questions early on should ask readers if they took an honest moral inventory and considered whether or not they handle their emotions in a way where the feedback they get seems push people away or draw them in. If it pushes them out and they feel neglected, they may want to reconsider how they share their emotional life.

konstruktive November 18, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Love this sites insights. Thx!

pete February 14, 2014 at 2:45 pm

You are probably a toxic person who complains too much. If you have had these 75 responses to your complaints and whining, then obviously all you do is whine. Stop trying to get people to feel sorry for you and instead be a better person that people will envy you. Why would you want anyone to look down on you and feel sorry for you? You love playing the victim.

When someone asks how you are doing, they are making small talk, they don’t actually want to hear about your personal issues. Go see a psychiatrist if you want someone to REALLY listen to your problems, because you PAY them to listen. Why on earth would you expect someone to give a shit about your problems when they probably have their own problems to deal with. You are just telling them that you are not capable of handling your own problems and seem like a weak person.

Dov February 17, 2014 at 3:44 am

Thank you for the post and the list. I’m finding that it’s critical for me to be able to share feelings, and it seems to be important for me to be prepared recognizing which people can handle listening to feelings, and which people become uncomfortable hearing about feelings and need to ‘offer’ all kinds of ‘solutions’ and ‘advice’.

Fayruz February 17, 2014 at 8:45 pm

My mother says more than 20 of these on a regular basis. Then nags at me for not sharing my feelings. It’s a stupid situation, and has just convinced me I need to move far far away and cut ties. There are other reasons for that too, but her emotional censoring is a big one.

Momma March 27, 2014 at 7:53 am

I have heard these comments throughout my entire life. From my parents , to coworkers, to friends. It is enough to make one crazy with self doubt.

Manh August 6, 2014 at 5:12 am

i really appreciate your article. Additionally, i notice that, these things could be also those that i tell myself to shut up my own feelings

Alton December 19, 2014 at 3:53 am

Thanks for your great series of articles Melissa. This has got to be my favourite. Because, it explains why people say these things.
Here’s some more:
1) I know all about Topic X (and fail to say anything on the subject)
2) What’s your number (with no intention to contact you)
3) Tell me about yourself (and refusing to share information about themselves)
4) Funny I went through/was thinking about that.
5) Feigning empathy

Jonathan Porecki January 2, 2015 at 11:05 pm

I’m in a hospital and most of this article definitely relates. I feel a lot of these statements don’t even necessarily have to be spoken, they can be the underlying content within communication.

This has given a few ideas of how to relate with the hospital staff during my stay. For one there’s a sense of compassion and gratitude- most of the people here are doing an incredible job and any dysfunctional attitudes they may have towards patients is not usually intentional and are simply human faults . I might try to set healthy boundaries with my regular nurses by telling them they don’t have to save me or help me remove my negative emotions. That’s just stuff I have to work with. Alongside that I can more genuinely express gratitude for all their support during a difficult situation and stop expecting everyone to be a guardian angel.

Zachary February 16, 2015 at 6:06 pm

Thank you for your article,
It made me realize that sometimes when I talk to people I habitually censor their feelings unknowingly. I will work on listening to them and not shutting them up.

Jenni Auvenshine December 23, 2015 at 9:57 am

Not only do I say the 75 things to others, I say them to myself!! Great article for insight!

L.G. March 30, 2017 at 10:02 am

I confided in my parents about being cyber harassed by an old acquaintance. My mother actually tried to partially blame me for her actions and dismissed me with a clichéd saying “Empty barrels make the most noise.” My father, tired of hearing about my rants, told me to “drop it” even though she was attacking my character and tried to discredit a professional credential. All I wanted was a little sympathy and a safe place to vent.

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