“What’s wrong with you?”
Some people would say these things to me on days when I felt down. Their reactions made me feel as if I had to do something quick to “fix myself.” People seem to feel uncomfortable with the absence of happiness. Feeling sad is hard enough as it is. But having to feel guilty about feeling sad? Double the struggle.
All the self-help books, movies, and TV commercials will tell you that happiness is the ultimate goal in life—any other emotion is an inconvenience. The problem is it’s impossible to be happy 100% of the time. So we’re left feeling frustrated and dissatisfied with ourselves for having negative emotions.
To take care of your mental health, you’ll have to free yourself from these crippling mindsets. Here are 3 things you should start telling yourself to have a more well-rounded life:
You don’t have to be happy all the time.
What happens when we’re fixated on being happy all the time? We put too much pressure on ourselves. And when we don’t meet our self-imposed standards, we become discontented—constantly fumbling to return to a state of happiness.
What to do instead? Accept that negative feelings are a part of life, and that emotions come and go. Life will be more fulfilling if you learn to love yourself through the ups and downs.
It’s okay to be sad.
The Pixar movie, Inside Out, sends a strong message on why it’s okay to be sad sometimes.
The movie mainly takes place inside the head of an 11-year-old girl named Riley. Five emotions guide Riley through a difficult transition after she and her parents move to a new city. At first, Sadness is portrayed as an annoying character who kept causing trouble for the other protagonists. But in the end, it was Sadness that got Riley to open up to her parents and adjust to her new life.
Sadness gives an opportunity for our family and friends to express their love. And from there, we find a deeper form of happiness. Most importantly, sadness makes us aware of our pain points—our problems or needs. When we confront those feelings and address our pain points, we find ways to make life better.
Embrace all kinds of emotions.
Negative emotions may feel uncomfortable, and that’s why we avoid them. But Inside Out also teaches us that all emotions serve a purpose: Anger motivates you to fight for what is right; Fear keeps you away from danger; and Sadness makes you realize the things that are important to you.
A recent study says “emodiversity,” or a rich array of positive and negative emotions, lead to better mental health. So instead of judging your emotions as “right” or “wrong,” listen to what the feeling is telling you. You’ll develop emotional intelligence that will guide you in figuring out a healthy response to a situation.
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