We are programmed to praise positivity and joy while shunning grief and sadness, which isolates those who need help. As children grow after years of being told to behave and smile, they become adults wearing masks. Our bodies suppress anger, pain, sorrow, suffering and negative emotions that we are not allowed to acknowledge. These buried feelings grow with no release as we walk rampant, showing our teeth to the world to presume only happiness exists within us.
Relationships deepen through vulnerability. People need to open up about their fears, not tuck them away to pretend life is perfect. The world sees strength defined as being tough and resistant to anything other than joy. Sensitivity is seen as weakness.
People need to open up about their sorrows, not hide them with a smile that says “I’m fine.” People need to discuss their anger, not bottle it up. People will explode. People will crumble.
How can anyone heal in an environment that doesn’t allow basic human emotion to breathe?
We are all responsible and need to change our way of thinking so that we can make others feel safe to talk and reach out.
Our culture is designed to suppress half of our basic human emotions, leaving us depressed actors.
It is time to face the reality that life is not perfect and human emotions are not linear. Life is hard and pretending that we are all okay is dangerously exhausting.
Stop telling people to suck it up or that they will be fine. Ask how you can help, listen, and pay attention to the subtle details. Check on your strong friends, your happy friends, and your quiet friends.
Take off your masks and let others know it’s okay to not be okay. It is okay to cry, to grieve, to be angry, to feel lost and to feel frustrated.
We are not robots.
We can’t heal by dreaming of rainbows to swallow our pain and trauma. We heal through a process. We prevent crumbling by expressing emotions. We cannot continue to build a stigma that negative emotions equal weakness. It is time to change the rules.