What is wrong with the response, “well if it were me, I wouldn’t feel that way…”? For starters, in conflict resolution, one of the primary ways of resolving conflict rests not on coming to agreement but on acknowledging the other person’s feelings. Not to admit guilt, not to make restitution, but to simply say, “It sounds like you feel sad/angry/frustrated.”
For seconds… here’s an analogy: When I was in third grade the teacher refused to let us use the bathroom all day. Not even to wash hands before lunch. She couldn’t control the boys in their bathroom, so no one could go at all. Our playground was bordered by a cemetery on one side, a bit of woods on another, and a field. We weren’t allowed to go to any but if a ball got lost someone could go get it. (A lot of balls got lost and retrieved that year.)
In the meantime, my ‘best’ friend (yeah, right) told me that I shouldn’t have to pee because she rode the bus to and from school and SHE could hold it. It took years before I realized why those balls got lost in the woods and how may times she retrieved them. In the meantime the kids laughed at me because I wet myself–no third grader should have been required to not use the bathroom all day and I should have been permitted to do what was natural, normal, right and sanitary.
To me when people tell me that I shouldn’t feel or react a certain way, or that they wouldn’t if it were them, is kind of like that year of school. It was no one’s business whether I could hold it or not. Holding it for 8 hours is not normal for a third grader. It’s not healthy. That my ‘friend’ commented that I shouldn’t have to because she could, that the teacher said she expected it… and that I didn’t know the playground secret are to me kind of like the people in adult life who say they wouldn’t care. I didn’t ask them, and it’s NOT NORMAL not to care. And so I get upset, not that I feel, but because someone else says they don’t but then… chases the ball into the woods everyday.