With a chronic illness you might be familiar, in certain settings, with putting on a facade of good mood/well-being in order to function. A facade that sometimes really does not match your internal state of being and mood. There can be times when pretending to be ‘happy’ or in a ‘good mood’ actually can help us functionally. And there are times when it is not beneficial at all.
See The Facade for some of the reasons why we utilize it, beneficial or not.
When ‘fake it till you make it’ or faking a ‘good mood’ is not wise
The main reason I regret putting on a facade of well-being and happiness is when I was using it All the time to mask unmanaged pain and my decline slowly into clinical depression. I felt I had to hide that to function at work. And then still to not have my family worry. In the end, you just never feel safe to actually express the fact you’re Not coping with the pain, things are Not good, and you can’t handle it. And it was a very bad situation I basically put myself in there.
I am the one in control of my own mental well-being. Yes, I was in a bad work environment that was compromising my ability to cope with pain and had a negative impact on my mood. Yet, I chose to stay there. I felt trapped, but I chose to stay in that trap. I didn’t get mental health help- well, not when I should have, only much later when I had to. So I do have to take responsibility for my mental well-being. All that wasn’t my fault, sure, but it is still my responsibility to handle my own mental health.
I do now, for sure. And I think that would be my advice to anyone when they are masking too much suffering from others- whether they believe their Intentions for hiding that suffering are good or not. Because it has a cost. And eventually, you’re going to have to deal with those consequences anyway. All that pressure we hold inside to deal with on our own – well it can be too much over time. So we have to do something to relieve it. My options at the time had been a) see a psychologist b) change careers but other options are working With an employer. And there are other issues in our lives that cause distress we sometimes have to deal with as well- relationship conflicts, pain management, for example. We have to make choices or have someone to help us work through our problems. Hiding them is not an effective strategy. Not for the long haul.
When the facade of good vibes is beneficial
There is a sort of way to manifest your vibe that is rather beneficial. Not all the time, certainly, or you run into the above issue. However, it is a sort of way to do a self-fulfilling prophecy.
It is like when you fake a smile- your brain has no clue you are faking that smile and it reacts with all the same chemicals as if you authentically smiled. So I used to do this trick on myself by smiling to give myself a wee brain boost… and it does work, the more I did it, the better it worked. I began to manifest less of my dark cynical, sarcastic self and more of my humour that is goofy and dorky. Both of them are definitely authentically me but just mood-dependent.
Then again certain postures also help trick the brain as well. And some people get up and tell themselves they are going to ‘have a good day’ to try and set the mood ahead of time. These are just some of the things we can do to sort of plant the seed in our brains.
Some of the things we can do to alter our mindset when we want to help our day along
I have used a lot of these tricks. Jedi mind-tricking myself to help manage my mood on workdays. Just to manage my stress level to cope with pain on the workday.
- Smiling– As I said, smiling fools the brain into releasing some feel-good chemicals regardless of whether we mean it. But thinking some warm fuzzy thoughts can help provoke an authentic smile if that helps.
- Change your posture– One is just sitting straight with your shoulders back, or standing tall. The lack of a slouch can help. Another one to boost confidence is the Superman/woman pose- stand with your hands on your hips and straight, and this is a confidence boosting pose you can utilize before a conversation, meeting or any sort of social engagement you need a wee bump up in confidence.
- Replace negative thoughts– This is a habit you sort of have to get used to doing. The more you do it, the better you get at noticing your negative thoughts about yourself. When you do notice a negative thought like: I am such a failure. You pause, and replace it with a more realistic thought true to yourself. I have said things like: I have succeeded at many things in my life so always is not the right term at all. Failure is something everyone encounters sometimes and is just an opportunity to improve; it is how everyone learns. I have great skills and abilities and I have to acknowledge them as well. Any of those will do to replace that thought. It is not about replacing a thought with something insanely positive, it is about replacing it with something More Real.
- Re-framing– When I am feeling super negative about a situation I try to re-frame it by changing my perspective on it. Either trying to look at someone else’s perspective, or a broader perspective, or thinking about how important it will be tomorrow or in several days. Or even is there any way to look at the situation that has good factors? At all? Or is it a just get through it situation and when I Do, then I do not have to worry about it anymore?
- Sometime I find that so many people around us are equally stressed and we might not be aware of it. So I found sharing a kindness made them feel better and me as well. Sometimes so simple as sharing a truly meaningful compliment- it can make someone’s day.
- Humour– Humour is something I used a whole lot to lighten my mood and to help others mood as well. It can help create a better overall environment for everyone and relieve tension.
BUT avoid toxic positivity
Encouraging your own good mood to help with your mindset, for your own reasons, is totally different from this culturally pressured toxic positivity. That definitely should be avoided.
Read Cult of Positivity
Examples of toxic positivity:
- Just Smile!!!
- Hey, Look at the Bright Side!
- Just see the good in everything!
- Stop being a negative Nelly!
- You’re Such a Debby Downer!
- If you stop thinking about it, you’ll just get over it
- It could always Be WORSE
- There is a reason for everything…
Our mental health matters. We shouldn’t fake happiness for the sake of others. That is a real slippery slope. We can acknowledge we are really not happy. Miserable even. And then find ways we want to take action about that. See: Chronic illness: Mood, happiness, and life satisfaction We know life is complex. It isn’t sunshine and rainbows. Some parts of our lives are a real struggle and we have to get through them the best we can.
And we can acknowledge when we have a mental illness, but that can be hard. Acknowledge we need help managing it, that also can be hard. And seek advice from our doctors or a therapist. I took that step- way past the point I should have but it definitely was a very important step for my mental health.