As a child whenever I got excited, I was always told “calm down”. My voice was loud, especially when I was excited and it was always seen as a problem. I was always told to “tone it down” or “be quiet” whenever I was talking or laughing too loudly. If tried to express something, I didn’t like, it was always seen as over the top and I was told “it’s not that serious.” I couldn’t be too excited, or happy, or angry, or too in love. I couldn’t like a guy too hard, I was being too persistent.
Over time I learned to suppress my feelings and be chill, so chill that now I was consider emotionless. It wasn’t until later I realized that I was just passionate. My feelings run deep and when they come out, I express myself with a lot of passion. But suppressing my feelings started what is known as Toxic Positivity. I pretended to be ok and closed myself off to my feelings. At first it seemed like the right way to handle situations. I would just keep what I was feeling to myself and not address it, but eventually it led to unresolved issues and hurt that would fester for years. I found myself being upset about situations that happened because I didn’t address it when it happened. If I addressed down the line, I would hear things like “you still mad about that” or “let it go.” This just made me feel like my feelings weren’t valid and needed to be kept to myself.
Toxic Positivity is pretending to be ok when you’re not. You suffer in silence and find yourself feeling like no one cares or understands you. It leaves you feeling invalid. Whenever someone asks you “how you’re doing?” you respond with “fine” knowing full well you’re not. Maybe you don’t want to deal with the problem right then but you shouldn’t pretend to be fine either. I found that allowing your true feelings to fester only leads to staying hurt.
You must stop suppressing your feelings and deal with them. Sit with them, for me, it’s the only way to get them to go away. I remember a few years back I was mad at a friend because she didn’t invite me to an outing. I didn’t tell her because I didn’t want to get into an argument about something trivial, I just pretended everything was ok. But I couldn’t shake the feeling and it was really bothering me. I decided to take a detox bath and listen to my music. As I sat there thinking about the problem, I said to myself “I am so irritated she didn’t invite me.” I found myself asking questions like, did you feel like driving, do you like the other people that were attending, do you even like the restaurant?” And most of my answers were no. I realized that I was angry about being invited somewhere that I didn’t even want to go. That “left out” feeling quickly disappeared.
Sometimes, sitting with yourself in those feelings will help you sort out what you are really feeling. My anger towards not being invited triggered feelings of rejection. But after sorting through my emotions I found them to be “not real” Yes, our emotions/feelings maybe valid but sometimes the reasons behind them aren’t.
And we can’t be afraid of upsetting someone else. I know I have suppressed a lot of feelings because I was trying not to argue or upset the other party, but when the shoe was on the other foot, they had no problem telling me how they felt. We must be able to have healthy conflict conversations. I know those two words don’t fit together but it’s true. We’ve all heard the saying, “we can agree to disagree” so we can express ourselves to other people and get our point across in ways that could potentially cause conflict but will leave both parties knowing how the other felt.
Dealing with the feelings is the only way to get passed them.