I remember a friend once telling me that she had “every right to be miserable.” I was trying to lift her spirits after a break-up and she was having absolutely none of it.
No doubt she had every reason to be sad, I would have been sad too…but she wasn’t explaining her reason to me..she was angrily defending her right.
RIGHT: A moral or legal entitlement to have or obtain something or to act in a certain way.
|synonyms:||entitlement, prerogative, privilege, advantage, birthright..|
Anger or sadness as an entitlement or privilege?
I’m no psychologist, but the only way that makes sense to me is if we are using being miserable as leverage for attention, sympathy, action, an excuse for our own behavior/shortcomings or as a source of internal motivation. (Ever clean your house when you’re really ticked off? Pretty amazing..)
No one would willingly choose to hang on to sadness or anger unless it paid some kind of dividend, right? Of course the dangers of purposely holding on to toxic, negative emotions are obvious and plentiful. Physically we can be drained or sickened by them. Relationally there’s a price to pay as we exhaust the patience and good will of friends or family. Emotionally we run the risk of creating a habit of manipulation or eventually becoming truly depressed.
So who would defend their “right” to be miserable.. and why?
The answers aren’t as obvious as you think.