The Happiness Connection  

'Bad' feelings are OK, too

Enough is enough! I’ve been a good sport. I’ve remained optimistic through a broken ankle, COVID, more COVID, still more COVID, and a heat wave. Now we have smoky air to contend with.

When I heard myself utter the statement, “Roll on September,” I knew I was reaching my breaking point.

I love the summer. It’s been my favourite season, forever. I think maybe my subconscious mind figures fall is the new summer – or should that be the old summer?

I’m not so much frustrated as I am bored. This isn’t something I have a lot of experience with. How do you stop life from seeming humdrum and mundane?

I started thinking about how I dealt with my kids when they used to complain of boredom. Maybe I could glean some advice for myself.

“Mom, I’m bored.”

“That’s silly. You’ve got so many things you could do. What’s your sister doing?”

“She’s reading.”

“Why don’t you read?”

“I don’t feel like it.”

From there I’d begin to give other suggestions. I thought the best thing I could do to help my offspring was to assist them to solve their problem. In this case that meant resolving their boredom challenge.

I tried this technique on myself. I was as uninspired by each and every suggestion I gave myself, as my children had been all those years ago.

As I sat pondering my situation, my mind started to wander.

Why do I and many other people view boredom as a problem? I never told my mom I was bored. I knew she’d have no sympathy for me. It was like it was wrong to feel that way, and if I did, I shouldn’t admit to it.

This brought an aha moment. By seeing boredom as a problem that needs to be solved, I’m suggesting that my feelings, and those of my kids, are something we shouldn’t have.

As I thought about this more, I realized that I do this about other negative emotions, too. I suspect I’m not alone.

What do you say to a child that tells you they don’t want to go to school?

  • You have to go because it’s the law.
  • I have to get to work, and you can’t stay here on your own.
  • Don’t be silly. You’ll enjoy yourself when you get there.

Responses like this are dismissing their feelings, rather than honouring them. If this is the message you receive as a child, a natural conclusion is likely to be, “These emotions aren’t good, so I won’t admit I have them.”

Perhaps this is why I started burying any emotion that I judged as unworthy.

This isn’t a healthy way to live. All emotions serve a purpose, even the less desirable ones. Among other things, they provide information about the way you perceive your surroundings and give you insight into yourself.

Do we take the same dismissive approach when other adults share their feelings? Yes, we do. Actually, I can’t speak for you, but I’m pretty sure I do.

“I’m worried that they aren’t going to renew my contract.”

“What do you mean? I’m sure that isn’t true. You’re brilliant at your job.”

Stop and think about the last time a friend, family member, or colleague shared their negative emotions. How did you respond?

So, if you aren’t supposed to persuade another person that the way they’re feeling is an illusion or a problem, what should you do?

The key ingredient in your response should be non-judgmental acceptance.

That doesn’t mean you have to agree with how they feel. You may believe they’re blowing a situation out of proportion, but your thoughts aren’t important. It isn’t your journey.

They need to know that you hear what they’re saying and that it’s OK for them to feel that way. Be a place where they feel safe from judgment.

That doesn’t mean I recommend sinking into hours of crying over something that might never happen, or bathing in a pool of negativity.

You can remind them that no emotion lasts forever, and things are likely to feel better after a good night’s sleep. These are both scientifically proven truths, and always provide me with a small glimmer of hope when my heart is heavy.

By dismissing or trying to get rid of emotions like boredom, it’s easy to think there’s something wrong with the way you feel. That hidden message may be the start of a lifetime of suppressing less optimistic moods and pretending they don’t exist.

It’s hard to live a fully vibrant life if you’re afraid of showing your feelings.

Being bored is an emotion, not a problem that needs to be solved. As I type that, I recognize that it may be a sign that it’s time to change things up a bit. I’ll continue to keep my mind open to that possibility.

Perhaps I’ll meet up with a friend, do my grocery shopping, or try working on my book. But if I continue to feel uninspired, I’m going to try accepting my mood. I know it’s serving me in some way, even if I don’t have any idea how.

As I begin to allow myself to accept my boredom without judgment, I can already feel a sense of peace begin to descend. That in itself is making me feel better.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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