Well, not really, and that’s bad.
I’m always smiling
I’m always smiling, and that should be a good thing, right? Choose to be happy! Isn’t that what everyone says? Well, here’s the problem with that, if you’re always choosing to be happy, you are denying certain emotions. If you are stuffing down emotions, your body is going to let you know, in the way of inflammation from the stress, and chronic health symptoms.
I was an elementary teacher for many years. My patience and kindness served me well with students that were having temper tantrums, or misbehaving. I rarely ever lost my cool. I can’t tell you how many people said, “You’re so patient! How do you do it?”. That comment came from parents, coworkers, and a grateful principal. My friends asked how I was so patient with my own kids. If they only knew, that is my trauma response.
Showing only happiness as an emotion is a trauma response
Growing up, I learned that “good girls” don’t show anger by throwing tantrums. If you want love and affection, you listen to what adults say without complaining. You aren’t allowed to speak your mind. I know, for me, this feeling began before school. My mother pulled me out of my first kindergarten class because I didn’t feel comfortable enough to raise my hand to use the restroom.
This trauma response is caused by a fear of abandonment. I, and others like me, who don’t allow themselves to show negative emotions, are trying to control the happiness of others, so we won’t be seen as unworthy of love. We figure, if we are easy to be around, and are seen as helpful, we will be rewarded with the attention and affection we desire.
Where does this belief that being happy is the only emotion allowed, come from?
Believing happiness is the only emotion we should show starts in childhood. I did have a sister that passed when I was around two years old. Maybe I shrunk in the background to not be a bother as my parents navigated through her year of care, or their grief afterwards. Losing a family member in childhood is considered a traumatic event that can cause long-lasting CPTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I also had a family member that was controlling. Perhaps I believed I could…