“All will be fine, don’t worry”
“Come on don’t be sad, you are brave”
“See the brighter side, ignore the rest”
“It could be worse, look for the silver lining”
Have you ever come across with these statements? I am sure we all had heard them sometime in our life. Our loved ones and elders must have spoken to us when we underwent a painful emotional or physical experience. Surely, their good intentions are to console and help us out in our testing times. Out of concern and care, they try to guide and sympathise us selflessly holding our hand. They want us to calm down and make us think of the right things in the disguised situations; the things that may have happened for good and probably to save us from the worst. They share their similar experiences and advice, and maybe that’s their way of expressing affection and making us resilient. Surely it is a blessing when our loved ones stand behind us in our thin times, but in those moments, there is a hurricane of emotions going inside that will take time to settle down. Seldom they realise how important it is to give a vent to that emotional upheaval.
Like recently one of my friends in the pandemic got a pink slip, which was very shocking and disappointing. He was too upset and when he shared the news with his parents, his father immediately said, “it’s ok son, all happens for a reason; don’t worry and look for other better opportunities”. His father was an optimist and offered him that perspective which was well appreciated. But Anil was feeling dismayed and angry and required that space and time to absorb the news. His parent’s perspective literally made him cage his sadness and insecurity. It was a difficult phase of his life and he wanted some time to understand how and why it happened and how he was feeling. However, now it was a struggle both at personal and professional fronts. He was without a job and could not express how sad, disgusted, and anxious, he was. The painful smile and positivity that he was trying to keep was a mask to hide his insecurities, anxiety, and fears.
The pain and uneasiness that sets in immediately after a tricky time, requires time to settle down. There is a lookout for validation. But we create a fake public persona for the world that is brave and more acceptable. That cheeky smile hides “all that is not fine and its taking time to process that feeling and understand the blessing in that pain”. But we choose to ignore the truth.
Sadly, when we judge our own emotions as good or bad and do not express, `they get buried in our bodies and eventually gets displaced with other passive behaviour or may result in body syndromes.
It is crucial to managing the emotional hiccups, instead of suppressing them. But nowadays “Be Positive” has become the mantra of a happy and healthy life. Even children are also taught to chant it when stuck in an emotionally challenging situation. Hardly they are ever given a choice to vent out. This conditioning of staying positive reinforces the mind to stay assertive and not lose heart when feeling trapped in complex situations. Undoubtedly, it is a life skill that we all need to adopt and practise. But to adopt it inherently, embracing, and respecting ones’ emotion is utmost. Faking out the unfelt emotions may be helpful in creating a social image, but it can be taxing for mental health. The chaos of feelings at that moment needs to be sorted out, maybe by opening oneself to someone close. A person that is a confidante. An impartial person that can shoulder the heaviness of our heart. It is important to accept and verbalise the painful emotions, else they hurt us more. It’s ok to feel what we feel at the time or in a situation.
The rise and fall of tides of painful emotions strike on self-esteem. If it is rock strong nothing seems to effect means the acceptance of self in all forms heals, and make things easy to handle. The honest acceptance of felt emotions with time gives more clarity of thoughts and wiser steps. It is not necessary to carry the feeling of optimism till the time you really don’t feel it by yourself. It is part of human existence to experience negative emotions like pain, sadness, worry, anger, fear. The expression of it is a normal phenomenon and one should not shy away. Forced optimism and positivity can be overwhelmingly toxic.
The painful negative emotions also need self-validation and an ear to hear.
However, why most of us often discount our own feelings and brush them aside. Why we refrain ourselves from expressing it? Is the fear of being judged grips our mind and we evaluate our strengths with those parameters, or there is a denial of our own real emotions? It could be any of the above. But I feel, both are interrelated. The gripping fear of being judged by others may result in denial of felt emotions. Denial is the reflection of non-acceptance of one’s own emotions in that situation. For example, a thought like “how can I behave like this; or, it is bad on my part I shouldn’t have spoken in this manner; or, they will think I can’t handle it, or, how can I cry like a baby ”etc may occur. All these statements describe the fear and denial of the true self. When we fail to acknowledge our own feelings and contradicts them. The fake smile and exaggerated positivity are used to hide the inner conflict and pain.
Here, the point to think is that till how long can we sustain this fake positivity, or, sugar coat the emotions that are not real. Displacing the emotions of pain and hurt with a smile or optimism may eventually trap us in a vicious cycle of burying the real self. The trap of suppression that may dig deeper seeds of pain, guilt, anger, frustration, or any other negative emotion. The seeds that can later manifest into depression, anxiety or other psychosomatic illnesses like migraine, chronic backache, insomnia etc. The body creates its own defence mechanisms to shield those emotions.
Embracing and honouring our self brings in peace and serenity. It is the doorway to confident and robust emotional health. Let’s not use the phrase “Be Positive” as a superficial reinforcer instead let it be a real feeling that can only come with the acceptance of our emotions and not by intoxicating ourself by posing out the happiness that is shallow. The more we deny, the emptier we feel, and it further worsens the situation.
In long run, it is always good to look out for “a silver lining in the dark clouds”. But on the other hand, it is equally important to admit the feelings that you feel. It is important to first get comfortable with one’s own skin and gradually mould oneself in a new frame of thoughts. We should give ourselves time to comprehend the self-talk that goes inside. The bombardment of advice and others perspective and experiences may lead to positive toxicity that may exacerbate the rising tide of negative emotions.
So, let us start accepting what we feel and not pretend what we don’t. Let’s not shield or mask our feelings with overexaggerated happy and cheerfulness, instead give ourselves a time to absorb the true emotions…… to make it POSITIVE in real sense.
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