When we (me and DH) went back home for my MiL’s funeral in October of 2012 we had 4 days after the service to see family and friends. DH’s best friend – Lou (let’s call him) – lives an 1 hour away and we were able to see him a few times.
There were a few things that bugged me from our visits. I recognised right away, Samy’s (Lou’s wife) N behaviours. She is covert in her behaviours and I feel that I am getting better at seeing her behaviours in real time. Even after recognising them I walked away still feeling like something was off – you know the feeling.
I racked my brain and I gave up on it for a while. And then one day it hit me. Maybe it was from something I read but I saw what Samy had done. She had negated.
I didn’t call it that when I was replaying the conversations in my head:
Lou absolutely loathes his job. In fact, every time we see him he talks about it. When he came to visit my FiL before the funeral he talked non-stop about his job. The visits before that he talked all about his job and how much he can’t take it. DH and I listened and listened and I could relate to his situation well – I had a job I loathed and it can consume your thoughts and eat up your life. Most of the time he would end the conversations with potential solutions. It has been 2 years. And still we listen.
One night we went out to a bar for drinks and he again proceeded to talk about his job. I started to tune it out until at the end of the conversation Samy says to us: “I just tell him he should just be grateful for having a job”.
Her comment bugged me. She was negating his feelings. Her behaviour suggested that he wasn’t grateful for his job. Never once did DH or I assume he wasn’t grateful for having one in a slow economy. And subtly she was trying to tell us that she is this awesome wife by telling him to look at the positive. The fact of the matter is that one emotion does not negate another. He feeling disappointed and frustrated at work does not equal ungratefulness. She is simply saying that his current feelings about his job deny the existence of his gratitude for having a job.
That was like saying I can’t love DH and at the same time be angry at him for leaving his shoes in the hallway for the 254th time. When I’m angry at him I still love him. When I am jealous of my friend I still am at the same time happy for him/her. One emotion does not negate another.
When we saw them after that incident this past holiday break something interesting happened. DH and Lou left to go pick up the pizza and during the car ride Lou begins about his job. But this time Lou immediately says after complaining ‘Oh but I’m grateful I have a job.’ My DH says to him “Because you don’t like your job doesn’t mean you aren’t grateful for it, it just means you don’t like it”. Samy was brainwashing him and it was working. On a side note, go DH!
N is for negation. It is like one thing cancels out a million other things. Kinda like getting a gift from an N after they have treated you badly for the past year.