“Don’t look so sad man…” a friend once told me a few years back.
He’d caught glimpse of me in a rare moment of having let my guard down and showing how I felt inside. He said those words, because he cared about me, because he didn’t like seeing me like that. He simply saw a problem and tried to solve it as best he could, even if his solution was only a rather temporary one.
I answered quickly with a smile saying “Sorry about that”, swallowed the feelings of pain, loneliness and hurt, that I had been feeling and brought back my happy self.
The sadness: out of mind, out of sight.
Only. It’s wasn’t really.
Depression comes from repression. When we are repressing the emotions, we are feeling, they linger on and they hurt us. Emotions like energy cannot just disappear, they can only be transformed.
The anger you suppress become passive aggressive behavior.
The envy you hide becomes hateful intent, thoughts and actions.
The painful feelings you ignore become a black hole inside you that secretly eats away at your energy and happiness.
So why do we do it?
We’ve created a society where happiness is the end all, be all of everything we do. We’re constantly chasing that good feeling through entertainment, food, drugs or other means – we’ve been sold the idea that we must be happy all the time.
That’s what I did for years and years.
Tony Robbins was my biggest inspiration and he taught me:
“If you’re depressed, you just have to change your body language and your thoughts, and you’ll feel better!!”
And in some ways, he’s right.
We can easily shift our mood simply by changing out physiology and thoughts, but that doesn’t fix that ever growing and never quite satisfied black hole inside of us.
That requires quite a lot more effort and a lot more introspection than a Power-move will ever give us.
I write from experience.
I was always the happiest guy, you’d ever meet.
No matter what, I was always with a smile on my face, a positive attitude and a portrayed feeling of happiness.
Even when I was bleeding internally, weighed 55 kg, had to shut down my business, couldn’t pay my bills and felt desperately lonely – anyone who’d ask me “How are you?” would get the same answer
“I’m doing fantastic!”
I’d say with a big smile.
In my head that’s what I’d convinced myself of, but on the inside and deep down it was a very different story.
You cannot force real, genuine and lasting happiness, no matter how hard you try. I tried for over a decade and it only ever made the depression and loneliness I felt worse and worse.
And so coming from a country that is known for being “The happiest country in the world” (and yet also one with one of the highest number of people on anti-depressants), in a society that glorifies pleasure over all other emotions and where success is measured by the size of your smile – then what’s the answer?
There can be no light without the dark.
We can’t have happiness without sadness. Life is not a constant euphoria. That’s just not how humans are built mentally, emotionally or physically. And to truly fully experience your life, yourself, your emotions, your mind, your body, YOU – you have to open yourself up to experiencing everything that is going on inside of you.
Out of habit, I still run away from my feelings.
I will hide from my sadness, my loneliness, my anger. Anything that isn’t positive. I will try to force out happiness. And guess what happens every time? I end up feeling drained and depressed – because I’m repressing how I truly feel.
But when I allow the emotions to wash over me, when I invite in the sadness, loneliness and grief, when I accept my feelings in their totality, when I feel everything that is me. Then and only then, am I liberated from their hold on me. I get to learn deep insights from my feelings and I grow from them. Maybe I write a blog post about it and share it with you. And it it might not necessarily take me right back to happiness, but it allows me to go back to a feeling of enjoyment for my life.
And truthfully, that is making me feel so much more genuine happiness and love than I have ever felt before with “fake it, till you make it”.
You can’t fake real emotions.
Life is temporary.
All of our emotions are temporary.
And trying to desperately control which emotions, we experience is only ever going to bring us more suffering and pain as we suppress how we truly feel.
So let it wash over you. Allow yourself the vulnerability and strength to face your demons head on and then grow from the experience. That’s the path to a whole and complete life, the key to letting go of those feelings once and for all. To take back your power.
And when your heart, mind and soul has quieted back down, then happiness, like a butterfly will have space to and eventually come peacefully back and rest on your shoulder.