“Relish everything that's inside of you, the imperfections, the darkness, the richness and light, and everything. And that makes for a full life”. – Anthony Hopkins
Why is it Only Okay for me to Feel Happy?
As humans, we’re wired to feel. Not just the good feelings, but the messy, big, yucky, and complex ones. Feelings drive our lives–our relationships, our decisions, the richness of them–and give us cues on what is good for us and what to steer clear of.
So when did it become scary or off-limits to FEEL big, uncomfortable emotions like anger, sadness, loss, disappointment, or grief?
Let’s go back a few years. Do the following statements ring any bells?
“Calm down, Johnny, you’re just nervous.”
“Stop huffing and puffing, Marcie, and just share the cookie–it’s no big deal.”
"There's no need to make a big deal out of it and start crying."
These well-meaning parental directives subconsciously teach us that our nerves, sense of fairness, envy, or fear are too much and need to go away. We internalize the subtle or direct message that it’s not okay to “get emotional,” and we should just dial it all down all the time—so as not to rock the boat or make anyone else uncomfortable.
At times we may have even sensed that it wasn't safe to have tough emotions. Whole theme parks exist to “help” us remain upbeat and even-keeled (ahem, Disneyland, “the happiest place on Earth.”)
When we learn that happiness and only happiness is acceptable, it’s easy to forget our expansive human emotional range—to our detriment. But really ALL feelings have a place in our lives. Counterintuitively, the more we allow a range of feelings to arise, the more emotional contentment and stability become possible.
The Dark Side of Happiness
There are many benefits to experiencing and basking in positive emotional states, like joy, happiness, and gratitude. They feel great when we genuinely get in touch with those states from the inside out—and let them flow through us without grasping or clinging to them.
Then there’s toxic positivity, a trending topic these days. Which is living in a state of relentless sunshine while filtering life through a rose-colored lens so that we can avoid the discomfort of “negative” feelings. (Ever heard that you’re not “high-vibe” enough from well-meaning folks?”)
Forcing happiness can make it harder to deal when intense emotions inevitably come up, like after failing the exam for the certificate you needed to start your business. Blocking the loss and grief about that failure can bring on more stress and rumination in the long run than simply letting your sadness or frustration run its course.
When we start to realize that only feeling good and happy actually limits our potential long-term joy, we open up to an array of emotions that teach us more about ourselves. And guess what? That means a richer life and more control in achieving goals.
Embracing all the Feels without Fear
The idea of allowing any feeling to roll through you (outside of the “feel-good” ones) is complex. It may sound like a lot of work and you may wonder if it’s even worth it.
Here’s a helpful idea to consider:
Negative emotions can be messengers. They motivate us to improve our lives, just as positive emotions do. Sadness cues us to reach out to a close friend for emotional support. Anger can help us fight for change and protect those we love. Fear tells us to be careful and make good decisions.
Plus, we all carry unexpressed emotions that can build up as tension, stress, anxiety, or other physical symptoms. To let some weight off our shoulders, it helps to face them early on so they don’t hijack our bodies (though it may feel a tad overwhelming to let those feelings in at first.)
This week, try this pathway that could help you get more comfortable in all the “feels.”
- Be honest. It’s important that you treat our big emotions like water in a boiling teapot, letting go of the powerful feeling little by little–like the steam from the spout. Start small and say or journal a few words about what emotions a stressful event caused for you.
- Emotions are not good or bad–they just ARE. Feelings are states and signals that encourage you to pay attention to the events that might have triggered them. Take nervousness as an example–it’s often seen as a negative trait to have. If you take the label away, you can better explore what the nervousness tells you, like excitement for a performance or jitters before a first date (both human and totally fitting emotions to have.)
- Learn to differentiate emotions. Describing your emotions can be challenging. It helps to print out a feelings map with words like “happy, sad, mad, scared, confused, numb, or frustrated.” The more you expose ourselves to differing emotions and name them, the better you know yourself and how you react and respond to different triggers and events.
- Safely practice working with your emotions. The most recent practices on our channel can support you with this.
If you practice the above tips, emotions can give you information and greater peace and self-awareness (all SO key for your long-term wellness).
Let’s be real…being vulnerable and emotionally honest can stress you out. It can seem easier to live life in la la land and ignore the big emotions when they surface. And in all honesty, it probably IS easier in some respects to bypass your big emotions in the short term.
But inauthentic perma-happiness can lead to unrealistic expectations, anxiety, and a reduced ability to connect meaningfully with yourself and others. Unfortunately, when you numb or push down the unwanted emotions, you do the same for the emotions you do want.
I help many of my clients gain comfortable access to all the big feelings available to them. And it all starts with a 30 minute clarity call. Just Click HERE to begin.
For a deeper dive (if you’re ready for the next emotional frontier, life expansion, or relationship deep dive), consider my new 3-Month Private Coaching Package—Learn more HERE.
May you experience the full range of beautiful and challenging human emotions safely.