Fake it until you make it. This saying has been a curse to anybody who wants to be true to their feelings. In our society, being unhappy is so strongly rejected that we are encouraged to pretend that we are feeling great all the time, under the premise that it will trigger happiness inside of us at some stage. But while it might work in some cases, hiding our emotions isn’t the best approach when there is something really wrong going on in our minds.
And this is because when we bottle our problems up, they tend to explode wilder, later on, causing massive damage on their way out. But as we know that unhappy people don’t get many friends, jobs, or spouses, we do our best to pretend that we are OK anyway. Unfortunately, this kind of behaviour isn’t going to bring anything positive in the long-term for several reasons.
Reason # 1 – If people want to go away, they will, even if you are happy
One of the poor assumptions of those who think that they should be happy all the time is that it will ensure that people they love will stick around. They think if they are “good girls and boys”, they will get a prize, in the end, dressed as someone’s unlimited presence beside them.
But the fact is that there are no guarantees when it comes to relationships. You can barely tell what you are going to do with your own life, leave alone what your partner, spouse, friends, or even your parents and children will do tomorrow. And this isn’t a form of premeditated betrayal, it is just how things are. Life gets in the way all the time. They might go for a long trip, move abroad, get a job in another city, or even get sick or die. And pretending you are happy won’t prevent these changes to happen.
Reason # 2 – It will ruin your mental and physical health
Except if you are an actor, playing a role full time is probably stressing you out. The level of adrenaline released in your body so you can keep it together must be so high that you are probably suffering from muscular pain from head to toes. And this is just for starters.
It is very likely that you can’t sleep or eat well, that you are feeling jumpy, and that you are under a lot of internal pressure. Your brain must be overwhelmed by being on constant alert, and that fake smile is probably hurting your face. In other words, the fear of being discovered and unmasked is so awfully big that it is going to create several problems to your mental and physical health very soon.
Reason # 3 – You won’t be able to pretend forever
Let’s face it, even actors drop the character from scene to scene. Even practitioners of method acting don’t jump from one movie straight to another. So how long do you think that you can keep it together anyway?
It is much better and easier to stop trying to fake it because you will eventually leave little hints along the way. Or worse, you might be on your best behaviour at work, and then have a meltdown as soon as you get home. This is a well-known cause of several cases of domestic violence against spouses and children by people who apparent to be extremely kind employees and neighbours.
Reason # 4 – You won’t sound trustworthy
The odds that the quality of your pretending face will be convincing are very low as you probably have realised at this stage. Again, only actors are capable of doing it well, and not all of them. You might have heard that some people do their best to hide their feelings, and yet the truth is all over their face as their body language and tone of voice give them away.
Plus, there is a good number of people out there who are great empathizers and can unmask you even better than yourself – they will notice that you are unwell even before you have processed the feeling yourself. So the only real consequence of trying too hard to pretend that you are happy is making people think that you are hiding something from them, or that you won’t trust them with the truth.
Reason # 5 – People will think whatever they want to think
So let’s say that, at this stage, you think that the reasons above don’t apply to you, as you are very good at pretending. You might have been doing it all your life, so you might be able to fake a great deal. But it still doesn’t give you any guarantee that you will be able to make people think the way you want.
Our very same behaviour can cause different effects in different people. And this is because they have their own background, past experiences, and viewpoint from where they interpret and judge our attitudes. They might even be having a bad day, and your fake smile won’t have any impact on them. Meaning that your effort will end up being a waste of time.
But, above all, you should always remind yourself that you are entitled to your emotions, that you have no need to hide what you feel at all. Everyone has the right to be angry, upset, sad, frustrated, and unhappy, especially when something bad or unexpected happens to them. And, as you know, most of us are just trying to deal with the demons inside of our heads, so you shouldn’t think that you are the only one hurting.
Yes, some people are more sensitive than others, and others have to deal with depression, anxiety, and many other psychological disorders. But it doesn’t mean that they should be ashamed of who they are or of what they feel. So embrace your emotions as part of your life, and consider the unpleasant ones as temporary guests, there only to point out something for your own self-improvement until they leave for good.
As you noticed, pretending that you are happy to ensure that people will stay in your life is a bad strategy. Nothing can give you this certainty, and nobody can fake all the time. You will only damage your mental and physical health, and even your credibility.
So just set your emotions free and give yourself the right to be sad for a while. If it is hurting too deeply, look for support from either your family or friends or a specialised service, such as a therapist or a support group. But face your fear of abandonment the best way you can and you will feel much happy after doing it.
I was born in Indiana, USA. Graduated from Indiana University High School and got higher education in Indiana University Bloomington. I'm a freelancer and entrepreneur. My hobbies are writing, rock music and self-education. My twitter: https://twitter.com/Colen8P