Updated: Sep 17, 2020
“True Happiness is the willingness to embrace and accept sadness and unhappiness.” - Suvi Inkinen
“True Happiness is the willingness to embrace and accept sadness and unhappiness.” - Suvi Inkinen
Why I felt the need to sit down and write this post? Because I am looking around at people living their lives...and they way they choose to do that breaks my heart. Because I've been one of those perfection driven shadow people and I wish someone told me what I am about to tell you now. Because we are living in a world where the quest for happiness is one of the greatest goals in life but also one of the biggest reasons for anxiety, unhappiness and depression. So I figured it’s the perfect (pun intended) time to redefine happiness. I know, it might sound a little controversial or at least like a strange paradox to say happiness is the cause of all those unwanted feelings. But I think it’s true regardless. And talking about unwanted feelings...are they really something we should shy away from, or hold on tight and make friends with? Let me explain what I mean with that...
Over time the idea of being happy is not what we used to think it was. Living in a society where we are constantly bombarded by images of "perfectly happy" people who only seem to be that, happy. A-l-l t-h-e t-i-m-e. Never having even the slightest of frowns on their perfectly airbrushed faces. With the pressure to be like "them" has made happiness become just another part of the never ending pursuit of perfection, happiness is the “espresso martini” of feelings, a trendy thing that is a place we should all arrive to one day. Or we have failed miserably. In life. In being a human being. If we don't get to that elusive place of butterflies and rainbows, that in truth does not even exist. Because it’s a mere illusion. Much like anything we choose to see as perfect.
I believe in our entire existence there are only variable states of imperfectness. Chasing perfection is like chasing a soap bubble. We run after it because it looks beautiful and shiny, momentarily thinking we caught it just to see it burst into nothingness. We feel lost and compelled to find another to chase. Like guinea pigs running inside a wheel. Exhausting ourselves but never arriving to our destination. Keep running until the day we die.
As we are doing that we fail to understand that the magnificent, imperfect life that is breathtakingly beautiful in its flaws and cracks is all there is. It's never going to be perfect. Life is messy, people even more so. Sorry to break a bubble you were existing in, or no, I am not really. Happy to do so. Quite exhilarated to actually. Because that is why I am here. Be the person showing you the perfectly imperfect way to find your best life, the best you. The you you always had the ability to be, underneath you always were...begin to live in the state of pure happiness. Help you claim your birthright of joy and connection.
What did I mean with happiness being the cause of anxiety, depression and unhappiness? I meant that over time we have willingly allowed our perfection driven society define happiness for us, without ever questioning or challenging it. We have become sheep who believed the lies hook, line and sinker.
We have been lead to believe that happiness means the absence of all those undesired feelings deemed as negative. Feelings of sadness, anger, bitterness, desperation, aggression and so on. The "perfect way to be happy" means not feeling those things at all. It means to use our precious energy pretending they do not exist. Ever. And if we do happen to feel them, we have failed at happiness. Do you see how ridiculous that sounds? Trying to be happy all the time? No? Well, read the paragraph above again. Got it now?
Ok, let's get started by clearing up one thing, a thing I am sure you will agree on. That there can not be happiness without sadness, much like there is no light without darkness? One can not be without the other. If you have never felt desperation or sadness, how do you know happiness is happiness? How can you know because you are unable to compare it to anything, you have not gained enough perspective to do so. You are living in a limited reality. Missing the best parts of life. So, if you agree with me this to be true, what is happiness then? Does it even exist?
I'd say hells yes. I simply think we should look at the whole and not just the parts of it we wish to see (because that is what we hear we should do...see it in every magazine, are bombarded by it when mindlessly scrolling on shiny Insta profiles...we are told that all there is is the place where no one ever cries or feels anything but things that make you smile).
I want, no, I need you to understand that all feelings are important. All feelings are ok, more than ok. They are absolutely necessary for a fulfilling and happy life. So do your future happiness a favour and stop thinking they are not, or that you are a failure if you are not constantly ecstatic and jumping for joy. High fiving passers by and desperately smiling at life even when you lose your job or when you lose a loved one. You are a human being, not a machine. You are here to feel things, the whole ray of emotions, not just the light, bubbly, happy ones.
But there is a problem with these darker emotions, feeling them is not it, but what you do with those emotions is. What do you do with the flipside of happiness? Are you judging yourself if you feel bitter or anxious? Are you staying in sadness and accepting that as a way of being? It is what it is. And leave it at that? Be a victim of your unhappiness? Or do you choose to take a different approach...
Feelings that arise from within, especially the negative ones are your North Stars in healing, in evolving and growing. And let's face it, that is why you are here. To do all three. Not run in the meadow catching butterflies and smile at the sky. Some days yes, but not every day. Without triggers and feelings of uncomfort, we don’t have the necessity to change or look at what is going on with us. Negative events that happen in your life and feelings that come from those events or encounters with others are the greatest, most valuable gifts from the Universe. Little gold nuggets to guide you through life. Designed just for you. To show you that something needs to change or be looked at within yourself or in your life. For your own good and future happiness, yes, for your happiness.
So instead of ignoring negative...or let’s not call them that anymore, because now we know they are not that. They are merely the flipside of the positive. The soulmate of the happy. They are uncomfortable feelings (for most of us), that's all. Instead of ignoring or denying them, and allowing them to slowly build up within you...because that is what will begin to happen. Those feelings have no way to go unless you feel them and look at why they are there. Acknowledge and release them. Without acknowledgement they will keep building up inside you and slowly turn into toxicity. Either begin to affect you emotionally (e.g. depression) or physically (pains, rashes etc.) over time. And eventually you don’t have a choice but to look at them. So isn't it smarter to do it before that happens? Before you are stopped by an outside force?
How do I know this? Because I was that person for half of my life, and since have seen too many of my clients be that person. I felt being grumpy, aggressive or negative was something that was not allowed. Not if I wanted to be the perfect, lovabe, nice girl. So over time I learned to smile through all of it and pretend. Pretend to be what I had told myself the World only wanted to see me as. And I eventually ended up developing a severe cycle with eating disorders for over 2 decades. I slowly internalised the negative feelings I chose to ignore and began hurting myself instead of letting them out. Stuffing those uncomfortable feelings down with food or focusing on not eating at all and exercising until I tasted blood to distract myself from them. Until I almost decided to end it all. End it because I couldn't hide and deny those emotions anymore. But by that time I didn't have any healthy tools to use to be able to work through them. I was stuck. Luckily some cliches are true. Hitting rock bottom is where you begin to heal. Starting to live the day we realise we will die one day and we only have this one life. (This time around...but that is another day and another blogpost).
It took me a long time to heal, learn a new , gentle and loving way of looking at feelings and address all those things I had kept in for so long. Learn new ways of dealing with uncomfortable emotions. Just to years later when I thought the work was done (and let's face it...it's never truly done), starting to get strange rashes all over my body and eventually understanding they were built up aggression coming out through the skin because I was still smiling through some of them, not speaking up when I felt injustice or anger towards whatever was happening in my life. We are not just our physicality, one dimensional beings, all effects all. Body, mind, spirit. Allowing those remaining built ups to pass with meditation, journalling and expressive movement...and bam! the rash went away.
With that there is another thing I need to add about healing, growth and finding our way to all rounded happiness, our personal evolution. Learning to be uncomfortable...none of these is a one time thing. People (I did too when I was younger and until I had worked through all this for myself) seem to think healing is a road, a straight road where the end destination is a space where we are healed. Evolved into happiness and perfection. Where we don’t feel hurt or encounter difficulties we once did, or our old way of thinking anymore. And if we do, we have failed in our personal process to mend and be better. Bullshit!
The reality could not be further from the truth. What I have learned and what I keep teaching to clients is that this kind of perception is not only extremely misguided but also detrimental for the exact thing you are working on, your personal healing. You are kicking yourself for something that you should not and you are crumbling the foundation of self worth and self loving you are building.
I would never ever tell my clients (or to myself for that matter) that I am healed and that I am immune to things you are not. If I did or if any coach or healer ever tells you that, run! That means they have missed the key aspect of healing and human evolution. And they should not be giving you advice.
Healing is a spiral, not a straight road. We heal but there are always deeper layers to our healing. Layers we can only reach in steps, through continual healing on the old, tender areas. The day you think you are done you are either delusional or dead. Or this is what I believe to be true. For me healing means that when I am faced with a moment where I find myself being hurt or sad, encountering a moment where I before would have gone and started a destructive pattern to deal with that feeling. I now am aware of the feeling and what I used to do. Aware and I can stop. Stop and take a different approach. I am able to use a new way I have taught myself to deal with the feeling. A healthy and constructive way. And that allows me to observe it to a deeper level. Find new layers to heal and improve within myself. Dig a little deeper. E.g. long after a break up you might all of a sudden still get washed over by sadness and feelings of loss...but you will notice those feelings are a little lighter now. Stir you less. So you can be aware when they do come and allow feelings to wash over you. Not judging them or yourself for feeling them, just loving yourself through it all. Reliving things does not mean healing has not happened or that you failed at it.
I’ll give you another little example from my own past, linked to my personal issues with body image, self worth and self love. I thought I was doing fine with them all, healed and physically I did look like an "average" (what ever that means..) person would, but if someone brought up weight in any way or mentioned I had a curvy figure, even if it was said in a positive, flattering way, I immediately got upset and began to tell myself they had called me fat. I got angry, sad, felt like shit, like an unworthy human being...all of those uncomfortable feels I talked about before. Until I began to understand that those feelings were meant as a loving message for me. A message telling me I still felt unworthy on a deeper part of me that I had dug into before, for reasons that had nothing to do with my weight or the size of my jeans. I felt unlovable and less than because of old hurt and old patterns of negative thinking. And I understood that I need to heal those areas. Yet again. For me. But now I knew how. I didn't spiral into a month long darkness of self hatred anymore.
After I had done the work (and no, it didn't happen in a blink of an eye, it took a few years of consistency and guidance and I am still not done...so be gentle, loving and patient with yourself as you are healing ), a comment like that didn’t trigger me anymore. Because I was strong (er) in who I was now and I loved myself enough not to have outside comments affect me the way they had anymore.
Having healed is about knowing, it’s about awareness and ability to deal with them in a different way. In a healthier way. It does not mean having become teflon. That things suddenly stop affecting you. That they roll off you like droplets of water, not absorbing at all. Instead healing comes in waves, we keep floating back to those places when winds change. When something happens. And that is how it should be.
So stop kicking yourself for healing multiple times in the same place. It’s as it should be. You are doing what you should be. Be proud of that.
Coming back to redefining happiness. Sitting with uncomfort and difficult feelings is not fun, it’s fucking horrible sometimes, sitting with our shadows is scary and lonely. But without doing so nothing for us will shift. We are prisoners of our unhappiness. Victims in our own lives. We will keep getting triggered by the same, unnecessary things over and over again. No growth happens. No evolution.
So, I am not saying that happiness is not something we should all strive for, no. It’s bloody magnificent to feel it when we do. But what I am saying is that happiness does not mean the absence of all the other feelings. Absence of our darkness. Happiness means to accept those moments too. Become an unbiased witness of our dark moments.
So be gentle with yourself. When you feel emotions that are not the happy kind, find a way to be grateful for the gift you have gotten to help you heal further. Be courageous enough to look at your unhappiness and sit with it. Have a loving conversation with it. French kiss it. How ever you choose to roll, that's besides the point. As long as you choose not to throw judgement or live there but instead receive the message it is there to give you. And heal the parts that are now ready to be healed.
You got this my love. Go and claim your birthright. Birthright for imperfectly perfect happiness and joy.
Founder of Hunaworks
Global Intuitive Deep Transformation and Psychedelic Integration Coach, Inspirational Speaker, Modern Medicine Woman, Writer & Podcaster.
www.hunaworks.com / @hunaworks / @elephantintheroompodcast