How to Quit Pretending to Be Happy All the Time
Many people pretend to be happy even though they are not. It is not always a bad thing (such as when you're trying not to kill the mood at a party), but excessive faking is mentally unhealthy. Social media and social engagements are filled with people pretending their lives are perfect and they are always happy. Pretending to be happy all the time leads to suppressing emotions and covers depression. To stop pretending to be happy, you can determine why you pretend, stop comparing yourself to others, and work to become happier.
Acknowledging That You Are Pretending
Become aware that you are pretending.Often you cannot face that you are not truly happy until you become self-aware. You may not realize you are pretending you are happy. To figure out if you are happy or just pretending, pay attention to yourself, your actions, and your thoughts.
- As you go through your days, find out how many times you actually feel happy. Be honest with yourself. If you don’t feel happy, admit that.
- It may take you awhile to learn how to be observant of your behavior. That is okay. The more you pay attention to your feelings, and the more you are honest with yourself, the easier it will become.
Figure out why you pretend.As you work to stop pretending, you should figure out why you pretend to be happy. Is it so you won’t show weakness? Is it because you want others to see you as happy and successful? Are you trying to protect your family? Determining the reason you pretend can help you address any underlying problems and get to the real root of what’s causing your discontent.
- Analyze your actions. Who do you pretend to be happy around? How do you act?
- After you realize these things, analyze why you want to pretend to be happy in these situations.
- For example, you may pretend to be happy around your spouse and children because you don't want to disappoint them or worry them. You may smile, laugh, and hide things that upset you to protect them because you care about them.
- You may also be pretending because there is someone in your life who truly needs you to act that way. Think about whether you are pretending to meet your own expectation, or to meet the expectations of others.
Realize you don’t have to be perfect.Many people think they have to be perfect and happy all the time. You don’t. No one is happy every day, and no one has a perfect life. Pretending to be happy to please others or hide your true feelings is a disservice to you.
- You should focus on being more authentic with your feelings. You don’t want to mope all the time, but you don’t have to pretend to be something you aren’t. You may discover that the less time you spend pretending, the happier you will be.
- Remember that you will not hurt or disappoint your family or friends if you stop pretending you are happy. You are not protecting them by faking it; you are only hurting yourself. They will not stop caring about you if you are honest about how you feel.
- You may discover that there is someone in your life who was pleased by your pretending. Talk to this person about your choice to stop pretending, and work on building a mutual understanding of what you want moving forward.
Understand that people go through unhappy periods.It is okay if you are unhappy. Everyone goes through times in their lives where they are not happy. This may be due to a change in circumstances, emotional upheaval, or something else. Accept that it’s okay to be unhappy at certain times.
- Some unhappy periods may last for weeks or months. However, if you are unhappy for longer than this, it may mean that you have a more serious problem.
Working Through Your Unhappiness
Stop denying negative emotions.When you pretend to be happy, you force down difficult emotions that need to be expressed, worked through, and dealt with. This is not healthy. Emotionally healthy people experience positive and negative emotions.
- When you suppress negative emotions, they can build up and cause deeper emotional problems.
- Expressing negative emotions in healthy ways, such as journaling, talking to someone, exercising, or another preferred method, helps you deal with them and be healthier.
Work through your emotions.Many people pretend to be happy as a coping mechanism. By doing this, you deny yourself the real process of coping and working through what has happened. Instead of pretending to be happy, face your emotions. Grieve, be upset, work through all the negative feelings. This can help you move beyond pretending to be happy.
- Let yourself feel the emotions. If you are pretending to be happy, you are ignoring how you really feel. Start by taking a breath and saying, "I feel angry. I feel sad. I feel disappointed. I feel depressed."
- After you acknowledge the emotion, let yourself express it constructively. You may want to write your feelings down in a journal, listen to mood music, talk to a trusted friend, or go for a walk.
- Allow yourself time to go through the emotion. For example, if you are grieving, this can take weeks or months to fully work through. Frustration or sadness may last for only hours or could go on days.
Put yourself first.Pretending to be happy is often an act for other people’s benefit. You may be doing this to protect the people around you. You may not be happy in private, or you may be fooling yourself. You should put yourself first as you stop pretending to be happy. Not pretending is doing something for you.
- You may keep a happy face for your spouse and your children. This is not protecting them, but lying to them and yourself. Being truthful and acknowledging your feelings can strengthen your relationship with your family and help you fix whatever is making you unhappy.
- Remember that it is not your responsibility to please others. Being true to your actual feelings is more important than what others may think.
- If you find that there is someone in your life that was pleased by your pretending, try talking things through with them. If you cannot reach a mutual understanding, you may want to consider spending less time with them.
Stop comparing yourself to others.Some people pretend they are happier than they are because they compare themselves to others. They see people on social media posting happy photos and status updates, or they talk to others who are super positive and always seem happy. You should stop measuring your happiness against others.
- Social media is not a good indicator of people’s true feelings. Many people fabricate images on social media.
- Many people pretend to be happy, just like you. If more people were authentic about being unhappy, they may not be so obsessed with being happy like everyone else.
Choose to be polite instead of happy.If you work in a job where you work with the public, you may be required to act happy while at work. This can be emotionally and physically draining. You can choose not to pretend to be happy just because your job prefers you to.
- Instead, be polite and respectful to your customers. Treat them with kindness, but you don’t have to be a bubbly ball of sunshine. Say polite things like “thank you” and “you’re welcome,” and you can smile at the customer, but you don’t have to fake being happy.
Enjoy the small moments.People think happiness is found through large amounts of money, new things, a job promotion, or a better relationship. Often, this won’t lead to happiness, though people may pretend it does. Instead of pretending to be happy all the time, relax and let life happen. Not pretending and not trying to find happiness in everything around you can help you feel more comfortable in your daily life.
- Instead of pretending and forcing happiness, just enjoy the small moments. Try being who you are and engaging in the things you enjoy, and see where that takes you.
- For example, you may find peace and contentment watching television with your family after dinner or going to lunch with a friend.
Talk to someone you trust.If you are unhappy, you should reach out and confide in someone. Just telling someone you trust can be a step to accepting that you are unhappy and trying to figure out how to be happy. This trusted person may be a family member, friend, or professional.
- This may be someone you have hidden from to protect them. For example, you may have pretended to be happy for your spouse, best friend, or parents. Tell them how you feel instead of protecting them from the truth. It can lead to a stronger, healthier relationship between the two of you.
- You may want to tell the person, “Although I may not act like it, I am not happy. I have been pretending for a very long time.”
Decide if you are depressed.Sometimes, people are unhappy due to life circumstances. This may be due to a job, a failed relationship, finances, or life stress. However, if you have been unhappy for a long time, you may be suffering from depression. If you are pretending to be happy, you may never discover that you are depressed.
- Depression is a serious mental illness that should be treated. By not treating depression, you are putting yourself at risk of both mental and physical side effects, such as fatigue and lethargy, weight loss or gain, and anxiety.
Seek professional help.If you know you are not happy but you cannot stop pretending, you may want to visit a therapist. By talking to a therapist, you can try to work through why you feel you need to pretend, and figure out how to quit pretending to be happy.
- As you go through this process with a mental health professional, you can work with them to figure out how to be more authentically happy.
- These kinds of patterns are often learned from your family, and these tendencies can be unintentional. A mental health professional can help you learn techniques to break from this pattern.
Video: Why Do I Smile When I'm Not Happy?
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