“Smile!” “You should be happy.” “There’s nothing to be sad about.” “Stop worrying!” “There are people worse off than you!” I’m sure we’ve heard it all. It seems like many people cannot accept the negative feelings of others. Makes you feel like you “should” be happy all the time. So we put on this happy face in public.

“How are you?”
“Fine! How are you?”

In actuality, you are not fine. But in actuality, many people do not actually care how you are. It’s just a formality. If people asked “How are you?” and meant it, they would be willing to listen to you talk about your negative feelings. But out of politeness, they ask “How are you?” and we answer “fine” to spare them the “burden” of having to listen to our negativity. What if everyone was honest?

Many people don’t have someone to talk to about their negative emotions. They feel like negative emotions like sadness, fear, anger, and guilt are unacceptable.

Perhaps they had parents who were emotionally unavailable. Maybe when we were sad as children and told our parents, they told us to “suck it up, you should be happy!” Maybe they punished anger and did not accept it as a valid emotion. Maybe when we talked about our feelings, they got annoyed and said we were annoying them and bringing them down, so negative. Maybe in our younger years, we shared our negative emotions with our friends, and they ostracized us because of it.

So we learned to hold in our emotions, don’t let it show. We thought that in order to be loved and accepted in society, we must be happy and positive. Sharing our negative emotions will only bring people down.

So we never learned how to process our feelings. We just repressed them until there was so much darkness deep within our souls. A constant smile can hide so much pain. But it’s what you need to be in this world. Others didn’t accept our true feelings, and so maybe we can’t even accept our own. We live a lie.

Now, we have this constant sort of unknown emotional discomfort because we never learned to be emotionally self-aware. We don’t know what it is, but it’s killing us inside. We don’t know how to let it out. Emotional catharsis, the release of emotions, is a basic human need. We are killing ourselves. This may led to hidden depression, never treated.

It’s okay to not be okay. Not everyone is happy all the time. That is a myth, an unattainable idea. You can’t feel happiness without feeling sadness. If you never experience the bad, you won’t know how good the good feels in comparison. In life, there is good and bad. It can’t always be good. That’s okay. Experiencing the bad just makes the good feel even better.

So next time you feel sad or mad, let yourself feel deeply! It’s better to have extreme emotions that none at all! It’s better to feel sad than to feel nothing at all! Write your feelings in a journal. Tell your friends and family. If they don’t accept your negative feelings, maybe they’re not right for you.