We’re always told that we should stay positive and be happy to the point where people feel as though happiness is a sign that we are winning in life. Pero sa totoo lang, hindi naman tayo palaging masaya. We go through rough patches in life and have our low moments, too. Even then, we’re expected to be “strong” and look on the brighter side of things.
While we’re all for recognizing the good things in life and being resilient in the face of adversity, it seems that forcing ourselves to be happy when we’re not might actually have the completely opposite effect on us.
A 2020 study by Egon Dejonckheere and Brock Bastian suggests that the existing social pressure to avoid negative feelings like anxiety or depression is actually linked to developing negative evaluations of ourselves. Dejonckheere explains it further in an article on Psychology Today, saying that avoiding negative feelings, just because it’s more societally acceptable to feel ‘positive,’ leads us to develop negative thoughts about ourselves. We often feel awful for experiencing negative emotions like sadness just because we’ve been conditioned by our surroundings that it’s not okay to feel that way. Hearing statements like “Dapat happy lang palagi,” makes us feel like sadness or other similar emotions are unwanted and unneeded in life.
What we may not realize is that sadness isn't all that bad. Our emotions help us adapt to our situations, get to know who we are, and discover what our needs are, which makes acknowledging our genuine feelings--instead of suppressing them, hiding them, or replacing them with fake ones--all the more important.
When you're feeling sad, allow yourself to feel it. It may just help you figure out how to address it and what you need to do next.