I’m so sorry for your loss. Everything happens the way it’s meant to. These, among others, are a couple of comments we have all heard along the way from well intended family and friends after we have experienced a loss. Although we know it is well intended, these words don’t feel right coming in or going out. Nothing can match the grief that we feel with any great loss or huge change in life.
So, if there are really no words to say at these difficult times in life, what are we to do? I have been contemplating this question a lot lately. How can we be there for our friends, family and ourselves more deeply and effectively?
This has made me think about how conditioned our culture is to believe we should all be happy 100% of the time. I think it’s because of this underlying societal belief that we are so quick to want to get out of our own pain and rush our friends and family out of their own discomfort.
So, we offer words that come from a place of discomfort not wanting to see the person suffer and struggle. As individuals, we reach for numbing agents to get rid of the discomfort. These include but are not limited to: over doing anything, including keeping ourselves too busy, alcohol, eating, Netflix and social media. In an attempt to get rid of the pain and discomfort, we drown ourselves temporarily with these artificial pleasures. The issue comes when these buried feelings come up again and we keep numbing them out instead of feeling them. Because we are all so convinced we should be happy and comfortable all of the time, we don’t allow the lower emotions that make up the entire human experience. The result of this is that we get into serious debt, become overweight and unhealthy, become detached from our relationships, alcoholicism and the list goes on.
I have experienced this on a personal level a lot throughout my life. I have been sold on this concept that we are supposed to be happy all of the time. And because of this, I have been unable to be with friends who were really struggling, without trying to fix them or make them happy, leading to a shallower, less fulfilling relationship. I have also numbed myself with being overly busy, social media. chasing the illusive perfect physique and overindulging in sugar along the way and this has taken me away from who I truly want to be and what I want to stand for.
What if I were to look at my life as a journey that is supposed to be part happy and part crappy and I accepted both fully? Striving for joy and happiness in our lives is important and something we should all do, but at the same time it’s equally important to realize and accept that there will be moments of discomfort that require our ability to process the lower emotions. If I fully acknowledge this ahead of time I will be better equipped to handle them when they arrive. I wouldn’t have to self medicate when anger or sadness came to visit, because I would be expecting them to come along at some point, embracing the full spectrum of human emotions.
This is something I have been working on a lot for the past year or so. I have realized I don’t want to be happy all of the time. When I see suffering, I want to choose to be sad. When my friends parent passes away, I want to hold the space for them and their grief. I don’t want to rush myself or anyone out of these emotions, I want to allow them fully.
Embracing the idea that I am supposed to be happy all of the time has had way too many negative consequences in my life and I refuse to keep buying into this notion. I want to have the full human experience. I want to feel every emotion to the fullest as they come up in my life, allowing for the amazing high emotions and the uncomfortable lower ones.
What has been the effect of buying into this belief in your life? You get to choose what you believe, my friends. Make sure it supports your best version.