Recently, I listened to a podcase in which a sentence (or two) deeply resonated with me in the way I am learning to live my life. It’s been a long and important journey, and I am getting there. We Can Do Hard Things with Glennon Doyle, Abby Wombach, and Amanda Doyle, is a podcast I listen to regularly. I absolutely love how they, and their guests, discuss life, their struggles, their joys, their triumphs, and how they share their “realness” with us all.
“Don’t forget, life isn’t about being happy. It’s not about feeling happy, it’s about feeling everything.” is a quote from the episode from their American Thankgiving episode on November 24, 2022 titled, HAPPYISH HOLIDAYS: Our Top 3 Hacks for Hard Holidays. Their three top hacks for the holiday season(s) are good and I recommend you listen to the podcast to hear more about them, but I would like to focus on that quote.
For many years, my life was spent focusing on being happy. Being told, “You just need to be happy.”, “Don’t focus on negativity.”, “Be grateful.”, “It’s no big deal.”, “You are just exaggerating.”, “Don’t be sad.” “It’s all in your mind… you need to be stronger and choose to be happy.”, “You can focus on the positive or focus on the negative, which will it be?” . . . were common occurrences. When told those things over and over, there are many things one learns along the way. Below is a list of some of the things one may learn as a result of toxic positivity and not feeling ALL of the feels:
- You learn to not trust yourself and your emotions.
- You learn to ignore your feelings in order to “focus on the positive”. In turn, you become numb.
- You set yourself up for bad things to happen – to be abused, neglected, and hurt.
- You learn that hard things are too hard for you to deal with or handle.
- As a result of your modeling, you teach your children and others that they can’t trust themselves.
Throughout the last seven years, I have felt so many emotions. Truly FELT them. Deeply felt them. Experienced them in ways I had never experienced feelings before. And, oh my, it has not been easy. It has been extremely challenging and sometimes downright scary. And, I have learned that I can do it. I am strong. I can do hard things. Really hard things. And thrive. I can stand up for myself (and my children) in ways I didn’t know was possible or necessary. I can stand up for my gender and take stands against gender violence and misogyny that I didn’t realize needed to be stood up against so desperately.
I have been angry at being mistreated in my childhood and my adulthood and I have vowed to myself to help things be different for my children. I want them to learn from my mistakes. Yes, I know they have to make their own mistakes to become who it is they are meant to be and I will be there for them every step of the way. Fortunately, they are at a different starting place than I was and, as a result, it is my hope that they learn to live their life feeling all the feels …. at a young age, not when they are 50+ years old like me.
To feel all the feels is truly living as our authentic selves. It is very difficult to be “real” unless we feel everything. It is when we feel everything that we can truly connect and empathize with others who find themselves in difficult situations, needing support. It is through these times that we also learn more about ourselves and the journey we are on in our life. Feeling everything also, as strange as this sounds, brings a sense of calm within our bodies.
So, yes, life isn’t about just feeling happy. It’s about feeling everything, and it’s all good. Feeling it all helps us grow, helps us connect, helps us empathize, and helps us live our lives more fully. It’s not easy. No one said it was going to be easy. It can be exhausting. And, it’s all worth it.
Have you heard similar things about just “being happy”?
How have you managed to live your life fully?
Do you feel all the feels?
How do you feel about feeling the feels?