Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness It took me years to understand that, this too, was a gift ~Mary Oliver
I do not always live it, perfectly, but I do believe that we should look for the positive in all situations … even the dark ones. That said, I also believe in living authentically, in being really real. Last week I discovered psychologist, Susan David through a TED talk video. Through listening to her words, my brow furrowed … not in disagreement, but in wonder.
When we push aside normal emotions to embrace false positivity we lose our capacity to develop skills to deal with the world as it is not as we wish it to be.
As I listened to her words two, divergent, experiences came to mind. One experience was when people would say, “you are always smiling,” with great delight in my (obviously) happy condition. Another was a lady who would see me and say, “you’re smiling, but I think there is something else going on, on the inside.” On the one hand I was disappointed that I was not truly being seen, and on the other I was disappointed that I was being seen clearly.
Though I will continue to smile through the tough stuff, it is imperative that we have people in our lives who allow us to drop our false positivity fronts. People who love us and want the reality of who we are … the good, the bad and the ugly. We all need people in our lives who give us the freedom and space to laugh our belly laughs, and weep our tears.
What I bet is that when we are living the dark and twisties in our lives, your smiling front meets my smiling front, and we are both feel alone. Both feeling that there is no one to be really real with. No one who understands disappointment, hurt or fears. No one to share the load, no one wipe our tears.
And so we smile brighter, so that we can hide our stress and disappointments and sorrows, creating a sort of hopeful utopia of our mind, rather than really living a real life … with all of the good and bad, struggle and sweetness.
Ms. David continues:
I have had hundreds of people tell me what they don’t want to feel. They say things like, “I don’t want to try, because I don’t want to feel disappointed” Or, “I just want this feeling to go away”.
“I understand, (I say to them) but you have dead people’s goals …Tough emotions are part of our contract with life you don’t get to have a meaningful career or raise a family or leave the world a better place without stress and discomfort.
Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life.
If discomfort is, truly, the price of admission to a meaningful life, and if we all desire a meaningful life (and we do), we all need to embrace the reality that stress and discomfort are part of the package, and it is worth it, because it is the only life we get to live, and to really live is to live authentically, acknowledging that it isn’t always easy, or pretty or happy, or good. No more “dead people’s goals” of perfection and happy, Let’s just live this real life, with grace.
Giving others, and ourselves, the space to be real.
Written by my dear friend Carole Wheaten
You can read more of her work on her blog: It’s a Wonderful Life