Whoever came up with the phrase ‘Fake it till you make it’ should have been a bit more specific.
Fake what exactly?
We can’t get away with faking everything, so there must be a limit. How long is this faking business supposed to last before I seek other options? I’m not saying the mantra doesn’t work. There are aspects of life that work quite well with faking it till you make it. All I’m saying is it’s never healthy to try and fake happiness.
All emotions have a time and place. Something like happiness isn’t expected to last forever without breaks. Fake happiness is never the answer. It comes with so many negative strings attached, you might as well have shown your true feelings.
However, having positive thoughts and seeing the good in every situation isn’t true happiness. People tend to confuse the two. If you’re faking happiness, chances are you really don’t see any reason to be truly happy right?
Let’s have a look at how detrimental fake happiness can be:
1. Fake Happiness Can Lead To Even More Negative Thoughts
Clinical psychologist Dr. Todd Kashdan states that people putting great emphasis on being happy reported 50% less frequent positive emotions, 35% less satisfaction about their life and 75% more depressive symptoms.
What does this mean?
Basically, if you’re forcing happiness, your mood deteriorates. In actively faking being happy, you become more aware of how unhappy you are. So the harder you suppress negative thoughts, the more persistent these thoughts become.
Generally, society expects women to be more emotionally expressive than men. This may lead them to get more backlash from pretending to be happy. The harder you fake it, the harder it comes back to bite you.
It’s akin to feeding a fire while expecting it to die soon. The cycle becomes harder to execute each time, leading to deeper emotional issues.
2. Fake Happiness Can Make You Sick
There’s tons and tons of information on how happiness is good for your health. Well faking happiness does the opposite when it comes to health and well being.
High levels of stress can come along with always faking happiness.
Suppressing true feelings, and replacing them with fake happiness may cause dissonance. This is an uncomfortable situation that leads to both mental and physical burnout. Fatigue is bound to arise from it, making you incapable to fully function.
Research shows that some heart conditions and even high blood pressure can be a result of faking happiness.
It takes a lot of energy to pretend to be happy. Short periods of faking it aren’t quite as harmful. So an occasional fake smile here and there doesn’t hurt.
However, prolonged faking can be draining both emotionally and physically. If you’re forcing happiness, then you’re wearing yourself down.
Repressing your negative emotions can also cause mental illnesses like depression. Constantly faking it might not allow you to notice how deeply trenched your misery is.
It’s safer to be gloomy and let your guard down rather than suppress your emotions and end up in a hospital.
3. Fake Happiness May Be A Sign Of Hidden Depression
The World Health Organization states that over 300 million people around the world suffer from depression.
We always expect depressed people to be bed ridden and incapable of functioning actively. However, smiling depression is quite different.
Smiling depression is when a person appears happy and functions normally on the outside, while they’re suffering from depression on the inside.
If you’re suffering from this type of depression, you might not even know it. The forced smile a person puts on might be a coping mechanism to hide sadness and in extreme cases, suicidal thoughts.
It’s a dangerous type of depression, because unlike the inactive bed ridden type, here the person suffering actually has enough energy to go through with the suicide.
People suffering from bipolar syndrome, are also known for using fake happiness as a coping mechanism.
4. Fake Happiness May Cause You to Resent People And Situations
If you’re pretending to be happy, chances are you aren’t truly happy.
The people around you like friends and family, who seem genuinely happy, will foster a feeling of dislike inside you.
You start resenting them for their happiness.
This may lead to you disengaging from them or worse, upping your fake happiness.
On the other hand, your fake demeanor might not go unnoticed. People will end up associating you with being fake, and therefore avoid you completely.
No one want to hang around a person who isn’t real. Another issue comes up when people think your relentless cheer is annoying. Fear of being described as “weak” for showing negative emotions, may end up causing seclusion.
In retrospect, situations where you feel you have to put on the happy facade starts feeling like a burden. Things you might have previously enjoyed leave a bitter taste in your mouth.
This may be due to your brain associating fake happiness (that’s emotionally taxing) with the said activity. This leads to extreme withdrawal and lack of interest in any activity.
5. Fake Happiness Messes With Your Self Awareness
Struggling with ones identity and trying to discover yourself is part of life.
However, if you’re constantly pretending to be something you’re not, it becomes even harder to know yourself.
Constantly faking being happy around others doesn’t leave room for your real personality to show. People end up expecting it, and you go on to deliver.
Just like a plant, a personality needs exposure for it to grow.
Suppressing your natural instincts and opting for the facade you’ve built slowly kills who you are. The extreme feeling of loneliness and low self-esteem kick in when you’re alone locked in your room.
You start questioning who you are without the faking. Wondering if people would still like you without the pretenses.
Since the constant happiness isn’t natural, it only means there are some realities of life you’re ignoring. Issues that might lead to different expression of emotions.
Personal growth and moving forward in life become a hard task when you’re not facing everything. Therefore you become a person who is frustrated, lonely and has little to no self-esteem.
The innumerable number of life coaches and books dedicated to “finding happiness” is rather alarming.
Are we obsessed with happiness?
Is societal expectations leading us to faking this emotion when we don’t feel it?
Linking other expressions of emotion with weakness and dissatisfaction with life is the biggest problem. People tend to think that if they aren’t constantly happy, then they haven’t attained self actualization.
Despite all that, people who express themselves genuinely and openly tend to be more appreciated. At the end of the day, it seems it’s okay to not always be the life of the party. We are all humans, and we’ll understand when you’re having a bad day.
It’s the forever happy people we are wary of. No one is always that happy, so it comes off as unnatural.
We can manage ourselves and others better when we accept that life can sometimes be miserable. Emotional release makes a person grow and understand themselves better. It’s definitely the healthier choice, too.
If you suspect your situation is stemming from a deeper problem, it’s safer if you reach out and ask for help. A mental disorder is something that can be managed even without medication. Better being safe than being sorry as such situations can easily get out of hand if not attended to.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you to choose what to prioritize.
Is faking happiness really worth all the hustle?