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I'm Sorry for Yucking on Your Yum

Ants eating a half-eaten apple sitting on rock
Image credit: photo by Maria Teneva on Unsplash.

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In my first two articles, articles, “Don’t Yuck on my Yum” and “How to Preserve and Protect our Yum from Others”, we discussed ways to protect ourselves from others’ unintentional comments that might disrupt our emotional enjoyment. In this third article, we will discuss how not to “yuck” on someone else’s “yum”, in particular, how to respect the needs of those people that we are close to in our lives, including family, friends, partners, and coworkers.

As we walk through the world, there is so much to do, think about, plan for and feel. Thus it is so easy to get caught up in our own process, not noticing who is around us and where they might be at on emotional level.

So in order to not “yuck on their yum”, we need to be mindful of others’ emotional wellbeing. This does not mean that  we co-dependently put others’ needs before our own, but instead, that we pay attention to the emotional energies of the people around us.

This may feel like a challenge at times, particularly if we are preoccupied with our own stuff or feel the need to share something immediately with our loved ones, and it can be tough to find the delicate balance between trying to meet our needs and meeting the needs of those people we care about.

We’ve all been in a situation in which we’ve been in a perfectly fine mood, but then a friend or partner brings up something in that moment that we weren’t expecting, or he or she questions our excitement over something.

We’ve also all had the experience when we’ve questioned someone about a development in their lives and ruined their enjoyment or excitement, whether it be about:

  • An upcoming job (“Are you sure you want to work for that company?”), or ...
  • An upcoming trip (“Isn’t there a lot of instability there?), or ...
  • Any major life decisions (“Having children is really difficult. Moving is really tiring. Changing jobs is always hard”).

Here’s another example:

  • Picture a beautiful drive with a loved one, out in the crisp fall air, and ...
  • Then you start cursing at other drivers and pounding the wheel, spewing out frustration and anger without any regard for how it may feel for your spouse or partner.

We know how we feel when we hear these types of comments, or enter into these situations, and we can probably all agree that we wouldn’t want to cause others any unnecessary emotional distress from similar comments of our own.

We’ve all had times that we’ve said something to another person, or even just around another person, without thinking through how it might affect them, however it is not okay for us to steal someone else’s joy or yum, even if it is without conscious thought.

Do You Have A Healthy Filter?

Recently, someone I know told me about her upcoming dream trip to Thailand. Soon after I heard about the trip, a highly publicized terrorist attack occurred there. If I did not have a filter, I could have said “Are you still going, even after the terrorist attack?” Instead, I held the space for her excitement about the trip, which she deserved from me.

It’s Not You, It’s Me 

So often we believe that expressing our opinion and thoughts is something to be proud of and something to embrace. And in many instances, this is true.

Speaking up can be an indication of finding our own voice, but we need to check in and determine if we are rationalizing our way of speaking out. Often when we start to speak up for ourselves, we swing to the opposite extreme, becoming very vocal, even when our comments are unwarranted. 

Even if we have had many years of practice of expressing our needs, it can still be hard to determine the difference between ignoring our own needs and being careful of others’ needs.

When we are at the beginning of our journey of acknowledging, expressing, and honoring our own feelings and needs, then this may be particularly difficult. However, there are a few helpful ways to know whether we truly need to say what we think and feel at this particular moment in time.

Awareness In The Moment

Becoming aware of what we say is the only antidote to not yucking on someone else’s yum. We must get very clear with ourselves about the reason we are saying something.

Of course, this is easier said than done. Here are some questions that we can use to help us to think over our past conversations, as well as to guide us going forwards: 

  • Is it true, and is it kind? If it’s not kind, or even with a kind intention, then we don’t need to say it. (Think of the Thailand example – why would we really want to ask someone if she is still comfortable with going? Because we are worried for her safety, or because we want to prove that we “know better”, thereby making our own ego stronger?)
  • Is it truly helpful? Has the other individual requested our opinion or suggestion, or are we giving it to them unsolicited?
  • Are we rationalizing that what we have to say is for the other person’s own good? Or is our ego or our need to be “right” prompting our comment, and if so, is this more important than our loved one’s need to be happy?

We can honor another’s space and allow them to enjoy their “yum” when we pay attention to our own motivations and intent for speaking. 

If you struggle with defining the lines between voicing your own needs and respecting another’s, and it is creating difficulties in your relationship, it may be helpful to speak to a licensed psychotherapist about finding the right balance.

At Nassau Guidance & Counseling, we are dedicated to providing the space for you to discover your voice, while still appreciating others around you.

We work with individuals, couples, and families in a safe and caring environment, helping people to handle the everyday stresses of relationships. We are happy to speak to you and welcome the chance to help you become happier in all facets of your life.

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