By: Lanisha Porter
I've never been a fan of that "smile no matter how you are feeling" logic because consequently, that's asking people to suffocate themselves with a lie. We are human. We live through a series of complex emotions. Some days will invite sadness, happiness, irritability, fearfulness, hopefulness etc., but don’t just ask someone to pick happiness and parade it around each day in vibrancy. That would be being untrue to the human operating system.
I’ve come to believe that depression and anxiety happen when we enforce how the emotional state of others should be, and people actually try to live up to it. Unfortunately, this same enforcement encourages things like suicide to become a thought. If someone isn’t happy, let them experience that emotion. Don’t force them to smile. Allow them to feel what they feel. Don’t ask them to suppress it. We need to alleviate the social pressure that happiness is a norm that can be timed. It's not. Happiness is a continuous process that sometimes takes a while to arrive at. When things get hard you are not alone. Others usually are just quiet about what makes them unhappy because we are all under the systematic impression that to be less than happy makes you ungrateful, troubled, or conflicted. Please allow people the space to hurt. Don't make them bury it deep inside and deal with it alone. Don't criminalize emotions that are less than "happy." I myself have a tolerance on how far I will pretend to be happy, because the truth is pretending only works for the other person. Not you. It allows one to bypass being bombarded by the hard questions of “What’s wrong? Are you okay? What can I do to help you?” But at night, when you are lying alone in bed and are confronted with those deeply disturbing questions that ripples the stillness of your soul as though it were a mirroring pond, you cannot bypass it then. You’re left there alone to deal with it because everyone gave you the cheap advice to try to smile it away. I myself have taken that cheap advice and have smiled at people although I wanted to do nothing more than breakdown in tears. And I will admit, smiling was a temporary fix. But in most moments where I didn’t façade my honest emotions, it led to help. It led to some of the most spiritually-healing conversations. It led to comfort. It led to other people showing me their hurts and me realizing I do not suffer alone. It led me to understand and accept my humanness, and ultimately tap into my strengths. Somedays I will only be able to muster up a head nod, don’t ask me to give you more. Somedays I will reduce my responses to simple-short answers, don’t ask me to elaborate. And somedays, I will not have much emotional energy to give at all. Just please respect that. Nothing may even be extremely wrong but it’s just how I feel that day. Most times the biggest thing wrong is the expectation from others that nothing is ever allowed to go wrong. That pressure can drive people to measures unexpected, unexpectedly. We should remember that happiness should neither be a cornerstone nor capstone to our lives, just an experience of sensation throughout the journey.
Welcome to my views from this horizon!