When someone asks us how we are, we are expected to respond that we are “well”. We are expected to greet people at school, at work and in public with a friendly smile, and for the sake of professionalism, we are expected to hide our tears, our anger or despair, because any other state besides content can make others uncomfortable.
It is strange that in a world that holds honesty as a virtue, we take comfort in being dishonest about the way that we feel- not just with others, but in doing so, also with ourselves. As a society we are entrained in doing so, and the worst part for me is that I don’t know how and when to stop. When will it be okay to cry in public, without getting judgmental or uncomfortable stares? When will it be okay to admit that no one is always “well”?
This is a question that I’ve been struggling to answer since I started thinking about it a couple of years ago, when I got tired of faking my well-being for the comfort of others. And from what I learned, here are 4 ways to be truthful about to myself.
1. Don’t lie about how you are feeling
Often times, “emotional” is used synonymously to “dramatic”. Talking about emotionality using negative connotations is exactly what makes it hard for people to be truthful about their emotions. It is hardly possible to everybody else to change the way they think and talk about emotion, but you have to be the change you want to see in the world, right? So yes, maybe at first it will be uncomfortable, and it might even feel like over-sharing, but don’t deprive yourself of the opportunity to be honest because of the way the people around you might feel. Be open about your feelings for yourself. If you aren’t feeling great one day, say so.
2. Remember that being happy and healthy does not always require smiling
We all go through hard times. There will be days when your facial muscles just can’t form a smile. Maybe even several days. While it is the most common scale of measuring happiness, the notion that how much you smile shows how happy you are is a wrong one: a lot can be hidden behind a smile. Being happy and healthy should be measured by how well you are able to take care of yourself in those moments when you are down. So if your facial muscles can’t muster up a smile, don’t force them to. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself, and trust me, your smile will come back when you are ready.
3. Stand up for yourself
The media does a really good job of portraying “standing up” for something as attacking or name-calling at any antagonistic figure. But that isn’t what standing up for yourself is. You don’t need to be disrespectful, and you don’t need to call anyone any names. All you need to do is make sure that the others know that you will not tolerate someone talking down to you because you have a different opinion. You are smart, you have a voice and you deserve to be heard.
4. Live in the moment
I know what its like to be stuck in a never-ending cycle of planning for the future. Planning, planning, planning, and then never actually getting it done because you chicken out. Some people like to say that there is a right time and place for everything, but in reality, we don’t know anything about the moments ahead of the ones we are currently in; we don’t actually know if our plans will get carried out. So don’t hold yourself back for the sake of the right time and place. If you want something done, take care of it here and now, because you don’t actually know if you get a chance to in the future.
Aside from all of this, remember that you are the only person who will forever and always have your own back, so you owe it to yourself to treat yourself well. Believe it or not, its completely okay to be selfish sometimes in this respect. Take care, and always be truthful to yourself