I’m guessing you have heard that you should be “choosing happiness” and “faking it until you make it” and “being positive.” It’s easier said than done, isn’t it? And perhaps you are skeptical that it would even work?
I’m not actually down on positivity. I grew up with a super positive mom and in so many ways it served me well. I like that for the most part I find it easy to be positive, happy, smiley, and optimistic (even when I am not feeling it inside).
I thank my mom for that ability. 🙂
The problem I have with it? Positivity is not enough.
When we focus only on our positive traits and have an attitude of positivity, it helps. It can make you feel happy in that moment. And it makes people around you feel better.
But positivity is not enough if you want lasting happiness.
Positivity can’t be practiced to the exclusion of what’s real and true in your life.
If we want happiness, wholeness is the answer.
Without embracing the positive and the “negative” within us – the courageous and cowardly, the honesty and the lies, the kind and the mean, the humble and the braggart, the giver and the taker, etc. – we are leaving parts of us behind.
When we leave parts of us behind or reject parts of us, deep down, a part of us knows that. A part of us feels broken or not fully integrated – not whole.
For many years, I put on a happy face, felt mostly okay, and that became my “normal.”
There came a time when I wanted more than just “okay.” More than just a happy face. While it made other people feel better for me to be “happy” and “smiley,” I was getting more miserable inside. My outside “happy” facade was creeping further from how I felt on the inside.
Have you ever heard of your shadow?
So it’s more clear now that I was selling my soul, my authenticity, in a bid to be liked, good and accepted. Not so unusual, right? Fortunately for me and my happiness, something inside of me was screaming “you really aren’t happy. stop pretending you are.”
Yikes, what do you think of that? Do you think you might be pretending too?
I was suppressing all that I considered negative about myself. If there was anything I didn’t like about myself or any feelings I didn’t want to feel, I pushed them down – banished them into hiding. This meant that I was hiding.
These are our shadows. They live in the darkness. It is only when we shine the light to them that we can be free and begin to live in the light.
Carl Jung says that the shadow is “the person you would rather not be.” Sounds about right to me.
“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious.” ~ Carl Jung
The Creep Factor
When we show only the parts of ourselves that we consider lovable, there is a part of us that knows that we are more than that. Frankly, I believe the people around us sense this in us too.
My own experience is that people around me saw more of these so called flaws more than I wanted to believe that they did. They were able to see my need for approval, my desperate desire to be heard and valued, and my need to control things so that I could predict outcomes. And of course, there are the other things that none of us want to admit or want others to know about us – our mean side, our negativity, our victim, our neediness, our white lies, etc.
These were just a few of the things that I wasn’t proud to admit but that were creeping out unconsciously because they were still part of me. They are part of me. And since I have owned (integrated) those parts of me, I find that I am able to more consciously bring forth those aspects or not, depending on the circumstances. Or at least I can love myself when I notice I am seeking approval and have compassion for that part of me that needs a little extra love and attention.
The shadows always have a creep factor – no matter how much you try to keep them from expressing themselves, they end up creeping out in ways you can’t control.
Self-love via acceptance of all of ourselves
When we can accept and appreciate each and every part of ourselves, we can learn to truly love all of ourselves. When we love all of ourselves, we finally find self-contentment and inner peace.
You might not want to believe this
I know that these “negative” aspects are the parts of you that you prefer to keep in the darkness and that it feels risky to acknowledge that you might be both the positive AND the negative, the good AND the bad. I suppose it’s possible that you don’t believe me as well. You might reject the notion that the wholeness of the human existence includes everything. You might resist this because you don’t want it to be true.
Deep down we all question our worthiness. We are afraid that if we show our “true selves” people won’t like us.
But it’s not true.
The more you reveal about yourself, the more lovable you are. The more whole you are, the more capable you are of loving others. The more you own and integrate all parts of yourself, including the so called “negative”, the safer others feel to be fully themselves, the safer they feel to be around you.
I am not alone when I tell you that the path to personal freedom and happiness is this path.
In order to bring forth your light, you must go into the darkness. We must know, appreciate, and love that which we wish we could hide in order to become whole. Wholeness makes us happy and free.
Wholeness equals aliveness. -Deb Blum
Keep smiling and choosing happiness but ALSO embrace the all of who you are, feel your feelings, acknowledge and love your shadows, and stop hiding behind positivity.