Written by Shenise Gatson
This smile hurts.
It hurts because my smile is not genuine today. It is forced. Fake.
As colleagues pass me in the hallways, I smile and wish them a good morning. Inwardly, tears are falling and I am praying with all my heart they do not notice. It is one of those days where I feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders.
What do I do now? When will this feeling go away? When will things work out and stay “worked out”?
I have prayed. I have cried. I have lain in meditation, trying to bring comfort to my soul. To no avail.
Maybe you have been in my shoes. Maybe you have had a bad day at work, received some unsettling news, or had a conflict with someone that greatly affected you. Maybe you received a bad doctor’s report or encountered a financial setback. Whatever it is, many of us have been in this place. This place of sadness. Of discouragement. Sometimes desperation, even. You want the situation to get resolved immediately so you can return to happiness and contentment, but then you secretly wonder…..
What if the situation does not get resolved? Or, what if it gets resolved but the situation returns? Repeating a vicious cycle over and over. Where does it end? Where does it stop?
During these moments, I often fall into a “woe is me” mindset, letting every negative aspect of the day and my life envelope my thoughts and attitude. I allow myself to backtrack on all the negative things that have happened up until this point. I even find myself wallowing in comparison, scrolling through social media looking at all the people living gloriously happy lives with new houses, announced pregnancies, new cars, and great financial means. Although grateful for their blessings, I wallow as I wait for my own to manifest.
- Have you ever been there?
- Been grateful for what you have, but secretly desire more for your life?
- Have dreams and goals that you desire to reach but sometimes they seem unattainable?
- Feel like you are “turning your wheels” but not moving forward?
- Feel like you are working hard but not getting things accomplished?
- Reaching for success but do not feel tall enough?
This smile hurts because I am feeling like that today.
Wherever you are today, I am going to share something with you that I reminded myself:
Sometimes smiles hurt when we feel like we have to walk around “pretending to be okay”. We feel like we have to put on a smile and never let anyone know that we are humans with emotions and feelings. Sometimes we are even scared to show others that something is wrong for fear of how they may react, gossip that it may provoke, or vicious words that someone may whisper about us. As I encourage myself today, I encourage you to remember three things:
#1 – It is okay to let go of the “fake smile”.
It is okay to not feel okay. We do not have to walk around and be false with ourselves or others. So many times I have walked around smiling and wishing people good morning when I really just wanted to go to the bathroom and get those tears out before continuing my day. Releasing emotions in a healthy way is okay. If you need a moment, it is okay to take that moment in a special or private place. Patiently allow yourself time to process, think, and release in a productive way. Some people choose a bathroom cry session, a phone call or visit with a friend, a relaxing bubble bath, an active jog or exercise session, a massage, or a project to help them focus on something other than the negativity.
# 2– It is okay to tell a trusted person/source how you are feeling.
As individuals, we all have up and down days, highs and lows in life. We do not have to pretend that our life is grand and that we never have any issues, problems or setbacks. Have you ever met a person who always says they are doing well? While it may be true that the person is doing well, no one is always perfect with no problems or issues. It is okay to talk with someone about how you are feeling. Again. Let me repeat….. let it be a trusted person/source. A close and trustworthy friend, relative, spiritual leader, counselor, spouse, or significant other will be willing to listen, understand, and hear you during your down moment. Choose a person who is non-judgmental and non-critical. Think of someone who you can share your discouraging moment with and ask yourself: Can I safely share my disheartening feelings with this person? Will they try to encourage and lift me up? Then that’s a great place to start!
# 3 – A smile that is truly genuine will not hurt.
A smile that is not forced, but lovely and genuine will bring you joy. Although it has been a rough day or you may have encountered something upsetting, disappointing, discouraging, disheartening, etc…..joy will return to you. During down moments, it is hard to see the sunshine in any situation. Believe me, I definitely understand. I still have to encourage myself and some days I choose ice cream, cake or pie to be my encouragement (LOL)! Will you try something with me? I want to do an exercise with you. I think it will help us both out.
EXERCISE: Think of one thing good that happened to you today. If you cannot think of something today, think of something yesterday, this week, or last week. Want to hear mine?
I think of my daughter, Alana. She keeps me laughing when I want to cry sometimes. One week I was writing a paper for class and my toddler was silent for quite some time. Well, you know when a toddler is quiet is means they are definitely up to something! I turned around to find my daughter wearing no pants, just a pull-up and her school academy T-shirt. But guess what else she was wearing? She was covered in white cream. I yelped and jumped up to find that she had gotten into globs of white hair lotion/cream. It was on her hair, face, cheeks, and arms. Her first response, “Mommy, how we going to style my hair for picture day?” My first reaction was frustration as I thought about how this little debacle was going to set my night off track. I had still had to finish an assignment and finish dinner. However, I couldn’t help but laugh as I carried her off to the bathtub.
Pinpoint a special moment in your life. The next time you start to feel down, think of that moment (no matter how small or large) to smile about. And let me tell you…..it takes more work to fake a smile than to just actually let yourself experience it genuinely and happily. Believe me, you will feel the difference! Keep smiling, friends! Things will one day get better. Let’s speak that into existence.
Copyright @ 2019 Shenise Gatson.
Photos provided by Pexels.