Can You Really Be True To Yourself As You Paste On A Smile?
“A smile is the prettiest thing you can wear,” reads a plague sitting on the counter in our family dentist’s office.
Smiling is simple: just make the muscles near your mouth turn up. Simple, but sometimes not so easy. Your smiles today can reflect that you’re genuinely happy. Or they can be pasted on your face to hide your sadness.
What exactly is a pasted-on smile? Is it good for you? Everyday we can choose what we wear, and a smile is the quickest thing you can put on. In this article, let’s chat about how to be true to yourself, even if you have to wear a pasted on smile.
A pasted-on smile is similar to a mask. It’s designed to hide an aspect of ourselves we don’t want others to see or know about, and has two advantages:
- It can help you feel better.
- It can help the people around you feel better.
Evoking a positive change is one reason people continue wearing a smile when they don’t feel like it. Learning how to be true to yourself can be as simple as flowing with the physiology of twelve muscles around your mouth. Like wearing a new outfit or getting a hair cut, donning a smile can bring about change from the outside in. So if you’re feeling sad, try lifting the corner of your mouth. It can lift your spirits.
As your smile finds a home on your face, it then radiates outward to brighten the room. This is especially helpful if your child is feeling scared or hurt and needs you to be strong for her. As you give her your brightest smile, she feels your love and safe in your care. This is practicing how to be true to yourself in its most loving form.
On the flip side, there are disadvantages to smiling when you don’t feel up to it.
- It can trick you into thinking you don’t need help.
- It can stop offers of support or encouragement from coming your way.
- It can cause you to be in a perpetual loop of smiling without progressing to a better place in the situation you’re struggling with.
Suppose you’re at work and a colleague asks, “How are you?” Going along with the question, though you’re not sure they really want to know, you answer, “Good,” or “Fine.”
Those answers may not tell your colleague much, unless they ask you to elaborate. But the chance to elaborate usually doesn’t happen due to time constraints, work load requirements, and the ability of your colleague to empathize. Most of the time, the question “How are you?” is reduced to a polite greeting in passing.
What do you think…if you bare your soul and open up about your struggles, are you being weak and whiny? Or are you being brave and real?
It depends. If learning how to be true to yourself means you spill your guts in front of someone hoping they will notice you and give you what you need, then you might be in for a rude awakening. This is not to say that people don’t care. You probably have friends that want to be there for you. But friends have their own schedules to run and their own families to take care of. If they don’t have extra energy to spare, it can seem like they don’t care. They might even mistaken you for being weak and whiny when you’re in fact being strong and real.
But if you rarely ever tell people what’s going on with you, because you don’t want to drag them down, then it’s quite possible you’re really brave but you’re bleeding inside. Maybe you long to practice how to be true to yourself but maybe your job requires you to keep a strong, professional front. Perhaps you feel the need to maintain an image for your brand but deep down you are wrestling with a valid question. Until you get a firm answer to that question, you are stuck.
And you don’t want to be stuck. But here you are, smiling.
At a deeper level, fear may cause you to hide behind a smile or a mask as you avoid exploring how to be true to yourself. Many people are afraid others will find out what they’re really like and not like what they find. Let’s say they get past this fear, but now they don’t feel comfortable or have the energy to explain what they’re really going through. You can get really stuck.
So when a colleague asks, “How are you,” can you still be true to yourself while wearing a pasted on smile? It’s up to you. When we need the support and compassion of another human being, we can send some sort of a signal out into the world. Either someone will recognize the distress signal and come to our aid, or we get to ask specifically for what we need whether it’s friendship, companionship or help of some kind. Maybe you don’t feel comfortable giving a full answer to your colleague’s “how are you” question, but don’t you owe a full answer to yourself?
If you want to know how to be true to yourself so you won’t have to wear a pasted on smile, then grab some down time and discover your purpose for the smile. Carve out 5-7 minutes to sit quietly with no distractions. It’s time to connect with yourself on a deeper level. Take a few deep breaths. Ask yourself, “How are you?” You’ll quickly find you want a better answer than just, “Fine.”
Give yourself an un-corking session and discover what kindness to yourself can accomplish. Enter your name and email here to get a free PDF guide and explore how to be true to yourself by avoiding three emotional mistakes most moms wish they didn’t make.