• Neva Bryan

Is fake happiness your costume?

Autumn is my favorite season. One of the highlights of this time of year is Halloween. My husband and I love creating and wearing costumes. Cosplay is fun, and pretending to be something we’re not is liberating.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same thing about masking feelings.

We do it all the time. Who hasn’t said “I’m okay” when asked how you are, even if you feel like whale poop on the bottom of the ocean at that moment?

Why do we put on a brave face for the world?

I believe we’re afraid that revealing our true feelings will drive people away. It’s a valid concern. Many people have had the experience of expressing how they felt and having their truth minimized or ignored by an acquaintance or coworker.

Sometimes even friends and family don’t want to hear the truth. The darkness in your soul makes them uncomfortable. They squirm in the presence of your pain.

They care about you and love you, but the fact is, everyone experiences personal struggles. It’s challenging to take on someone else’s problems. Suffering people can turn into psychic vampires, emotionally draining the very individuals trying to help them. So we avoid talking about our real feelings and pretend like everything’s okay.

But pretending to be happy when you’re sad is exhausting, and covering up your feelings for the benefit of others can hinder your grieving process. To deal with your loss, you have to be able to articulate how it makes you feel.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with feelings. They are neither good nor bad. They just are. When you acknowledge them and give them a name, you take control of your healing process. As I’ve heard it said, “If you can name it, you can tame it.”

Do you feel compelled to say you’re okay when you aren’t? Do you smile on the outside while your inner self is crying? You don’t have to drown someone else in your pain, but it’s okay to acknowledge your feelings when asked about them. Even if the other person brushes it off, you’ve shown yourself kindness and love.

If you pretend to be something you’re not this week, I hope it’s through a costume. Happy Halloween!

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