In this society — in this world — we, as emotional human beings, are constantly told to repress and suppress the “bad feelings” — feelings of sadness, anger, stress, anxiety — to pretend we’re always happy and always content, and when we’re not — when we admit that we’re not — we’re deemed weak. We’re taught to hold those feelings back because it will make other people uncomfortable, so better keep those in for the sake of others’ comfort, right? And we’re taught that because: we need to put our best selves out there to the world at all times. But, it’s in human nature to feel sad and angry — lonely and stressed. No one can deny the feelings of anger, sadness, fear, no matter how hard you try. And (from a lot of experience), suppressing those black feelings, only make them worse because they manifest and fester and dig deeper, and begin to slowly bubble up, until one person says one thing and that dam holding back that black goop, snaps and explodes.
The problem is no one wants to talk about feelings because no one feels comfortable talking about them – and talking about the serious stuff – and the truth because it’s hard — there’s no denying that. It’s hard to admit vulnerability to yourself and to others when it’s so ingrained in our minds to be the best and present our best selves, even more so with today’s social media culture. And I struggle with this everyday. However, not acknowledging emotions and teaching it as a weakness that must be hidden, is dangerous because it leads to apathy, and more importantly, to a society that doesn’t know how to cope when experiencing these bad feelings.
We are socially constructed to suppress and hide the bad feelings, making us unable to cope with them when they arrive or help comfort someone else, which creates a society consisting of unfeeling, apathetic robots, pretending life is dandy under a mask of fake smiles and laughs – since no one wants to be around someone who is sad, therefore making them a buzzkill. People want to be around others who are happy and fun — because those states of beings are socially acceptable and praised. But when you only show and express a tiny percentage of what you actually feel, how can you expect to have long, meaningful relationships built on truth and mutually beneficial communication, whether that be with friends or significant others? We are more comfortable talking about celebrity gossip or the newest Starbucks drink than we are admitting we’re anxious to the point of throwing up. It’s more acceptable to completely rip someone apart for being fat than to feel safe and comfortable admitting your own insecurities to others. People would rather pretend everything is fine even when it isn’t because it is easier than actually facing the hard truths.
Being unable to cope in a healthy way can lead to unhealthy consequences. Whenever I feel sad or anxious, I don’t know how to cope, which makes me, often times, lash out and it takes a heavy mental toll. The harder part is, I don’t want to tell anyone, and I don’t feel like I have anyone to confide in because I don’t want to appear weak or vulnerable. This dilemma is made a thousand times worse when thrust into a highly competitive, highly stressful environment: school. I have such a hard time expressing my feelings, that I often express stress as snapping at family and/or friends or breakdowns at 10 o’clock at night, sadness as internally retreating into myself and isolation, and anxiety as not being able to focus on anything and checking out of the present. I’m sure this happens to others as well, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this.
This social construct of stifling our emotions will lead to dangerous consequences for our society now and future generations. Instead of suppression, society needs to teach comfortable, healthy expression. Instead of teaching it as a weakness, a symbol of strength. We need to remove ourselves from apathy rather than removing ourselves from empathy. And we need to teach that its okay to feel sad or stressed or anxious or any other feelings — that there’s nothing wrong with that, and there’s nothing wrong with us when we feel it. In order to feel better, we need to teach how to release it in a healthy manner—through healthy relationships, healthy communication, healthy expression, but that can only be achieved once we end this hazardous system.
Featured picture via http://neonsigsn.tumblr.com/post/142434661444