Happiness isn’t the Only Acceptable Emotion

I am the first to admit that I am a perpetual people pleaser and I’ve been that way pretty much as long as I can remember. If I were to psycho-analyze myself, my best guess to why I am the way that I am is because my mother is the complete opposite.  Growing up, I always felt the need to be her buffer with the rest of the world. I felt compelled to smooth out her hard edges and get people to like me despite my mom’s difficult “stir-the-pot-and-deal-with-it” personality. 

In some ways I think my people pleasing ways has served me well.  I am a chipper, can-do kind of girl. I can put a positive spin on almost anything.  I like being polite. I like doing a good job at things.  I see the glass as half-full not half-empty. When others say no, I like to be the one that says, “yes, I can help you,” or “yes, I’m able to do that.”

But the downside to being a people pleaser is that I’m extremely uncomfortable with conflict.  I hate arguments and I’m not great at standing up for myself or my opinions.  With age this has gotten better – I’ve grown a bit more of a spine – but being the voice of dissent will probably never be something I am every comfortable with.  I could never be a politician!

Another downside is that I have come to believe that “happy” is the emotion of choice ALL the time. I rarely give myself permission to be sad or angry or depressed even when being happy is inauthentic and untrue to how I’m REALLY feeling on the inside.  And as a mom, I see how that carries over to my parenting. I don’t ever want my little girl to be sad or to cry or to be upset. I hate the term “Cry It Out” and failed miserably at it because I just couldn’t stand by and listen to my daughter wail – it’s ingrained in me to provide comfort.  It’s who I am at such a deep level.

But I’m starting to realize that while I’ll probably never be a CIO parent, I don’t have to feel compelled to fix everything for my little one.  It’s okay if she’s not happy all that time. I want her to know that sometimes it’s okay to cry and there ISN’T anything that makes it better.  I want her to know that she can express her emotions and that I will always listen to her and be a safe harbor. I want her to know that she has the power within herself to find solutions to problems.  And I want her to know that life is messy and there isn’t a “happy ending” with all situations. Most of all, I don’t want my daughter to feel – like I did – that she has to be inauthentically happy.


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