I recently saw a quote that said, “being spiritual doesn’t mean pretending to be happy 24/7.”
This really resonates with me, and it likely resonates with you, too (you are reading this, aren’t you?). But let’s take the spiritual component out of it for now, as its not necessary to go down that path for the purpose of this.
What does pretending to be happy do?
Pretending to be happy all the time does us a disservice. It minimises, masks, and suppresses emotions. Our emotions are incredible tools that teach us so much about who we are and how we experience the world. Emotions offer huge opportunities for growth and deep understanding.
We really do ourselves a disservice when we don’t allow an emotion its opportunity to be expressed. Emotions are there for a reason and their energy needs to be released. When we we suppress our feelings, the emotion we’re experiencing doesn’t have an opportunity to be released – but it NEEDS to! It’s like bringing home a Golden Retriever puppy and putting it in room all day with no opportunity to play. The puppy will eventually destroy the room.
Why do we need to express emotions?
Emotions can cause destruction in a similar way when they are suppressed – leading to disease, cancer, addiction, obesity, depression, and anxiety. Suppressing emotions is NOT a healthy practice.
I understand there are situations, such as in the workplace, where it may be inappropriate to fully express an emotion. However, those emotions will stay with you. Whatever it is – rage, anger, frustration, annoyance, sadness, grief – even if you take it down a notch and let it simmer under the surface where its not being expressed, it will eventually find its way out. Like the puppy, it may eventually chew or dig its way out of the room (or cause enough noise that you have to go in the room and pay attention to it). Finding a time to release these emotions is essential to experiencing genuine happiness.
What can emotions teach us?
The sooner we’re able to understand an emotion, understand what its teaching us in that moment, be able to feel it, observe it, and learn from it; the sooner we can feel genuinely happy. Pretending to be happy is not going to make you happy. There’s a reason why you’re not happy, and that is completely valid. Understanding your emotions can explain to you why you’re not happy.
What’s the flip side?
The flip side is that we need to allow others to experience their emotions and release them. We’re asking for the opportunity, so we need to also give it to others. For example, if someone is crying, we almost automatically hand them a tissue and tell them, “don’t cry.” But that’s not fair! While we think we’re comforting them, we’re actually signalling them to stop releasing their emotions and pretend to be “happy.” We need to practice allowing people to release their emotions and being there as a witness to observe and let another person have their experience.
Instead of asking someone to stop being upset, be the person who asks them, “how are you feeling right now?” or “what have you learned from this?” or “why do you think you’re feeling this way?” You can literally sit in silence and observe. See what happens when you allow others to express their emotions (within healthy boundaries – violence and abuse is NOT acceptable).
…be the person who asks them, ‘how are you feeling right now?’ or ‘what have you learned from this?’ or ‘why do you think you’re feeling this way?’
What can you do?
We all want to be happy, but we are also human. It is not possible to be happy in every moment as people living on this planet right now.
Stop pretending. Start expressing emotions. Start observing. Start understanding. Start learning. Your emotions can give you all of this. Give yourself and others these opportunities by allowing the expression of emotions.
Emotions flow and change on a moment-to-moment basis. There are plenty of opportunities to practice!
Why you should stop pretending to be happy and start deeply experiencing your emotions.
Posted by Amanda Luukinen on Saturday, October 27, 2018