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When Was the Last Time I Smiled for Real?

Embark Behavioral Health
December 8, 2019

We see pictures all day long of people on social media with fake smiles. They look happy, but in reality, they are just like us. And for some of us, a smile never feels real. Whether it is the problems we have that made us want to drink or use drugs, or depression or anxiety or whatever is going on inside of us, we haven’t felt truly happy for too long. When was the last time we giggled or belly laughed? The kind of laughter that made us feel warm and happy long after the joke was over? When was the last time I smiled for real?

Emotional Void

People associate depression with sadness, but in truth, depression can often leave us void of all real emotions. It is really more like being numb. Anxiety can leave our brain kind of short-circuiting in kind of a panic mode, so we cannot feel normal emotions, either. There are a lot of things which impact our behavior and emotions, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), Learning Disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD,) Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD,) and more. Whatever our situation is, whatever our diagnosis or diagnoses may be, it almost seems harder to feel normal emotions than it is to not feel them.

Avoiding Emotions

Some people turn to substance use, the internet, or other activities specifically to avoid dealing with emotions or pain. While there are excellent uses of the internet and social media and other activities, when we engage in those activities as a form of escaping our problems, we are at higher risk of becoming addicted. Addiction is when we no longer have control over our activities, we are physically compelled to drink or get high or use the internet too much or engage in risky activities online. When we are no longer in control of what we do, we are also no longer control our emotions.

It’s Okay to Feel

Some emotions are uncomfortable. Okay, a lot of emotions are uncomfortable. There is pain, embarrassment, fear, sadness, anger, loneliness, shame, and so many more. It is not just the emotions, but more specifically the events and memories we tie these emotions to which make us want to hide our feelings, to avoid feeling these things.

On the other hand, there are lots of positive emotions, too. These include joy, happiness, peace, laughter, satisfaction, being interested, and love, to name a few. For some of us, these do not feel natural. They don’t come naturally. And even if they are supposed to feel positive, they might feel uncomfortable at times, too. 

Whatever emotions we are feeling, it’s okay to feel them. Learning to notice them and just notice what they feel like is a huge step forward toward that spontaneous, natural smile.  Learning to be okay with whatever emotions bubble up increases our awareness of what is going on inside of us and helps us be more real, more authentic.

Learning to Access Emotions

Once we begin to allow ourselves to feel whatever is inside of us, the next step is to learn to access emotions. The question “How does that make me feel?” seems a little silly, but if we learn to ask it and we can start to answer it, then we are tying together what is happening with our natural emotions.

When we can tie our emotions together with what has happened – memories, and events, we can learn to access our emotions in the present, too. Like how does it make you feel as you read about emotions right now? Are you distracted? Excited? Curious? Scared? What are you feeling?

Learning to do this naturally without asking will be what it is like to feel natural emotions. It takes work sometimes, but when we train our minds to look at what is happening right now and notice how it makes us feel, we can also learn to control those emotions and control how we respond to them. For example, if reading some dumb article our parents sent us about emotions is annoying, we can notice that. We can also notice that it was sent to us in love. And notice that it feels good to be loved. And when we text back “thanks” to our parents, that feeling of gratitude might be genuine instead of cynical or dutiful. Whatever our response is, when we access and control our emotions, we start to react differently to our world. We might even smile at the irony of reacting to this article.

Smile Selfie

When we learn to smile naturally, to have a natural reaction and emotion in response to something that should naturally make us happy, why not take a selfie with that smile? Not everyone knows how to access their emotions, but with some work and dedication, now we can. Take that pic to remind yourself of your own personal victory. And then plan to take a lot more.

We are naturally wired to respond with emotions to things in our environment. There are so many things that get in the way. You have a chance now to heal your mind and harness the power of your true emotions. React now by calling Embark Behavioral Health and learning more about you. Because accessing you and your natural emotions is enough to make you smile. For real.

Learn to access your smile and all of your emotions by contacting Embark Behavioral Health at 1-855-809-0409 today. Your smiles are waiting for you. 

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Embark Behavioral Health

Embark Behavioral Health is a leading network of clinics and programs offering premier mental health treatment for adolescents and young adults. Dedicated to its mission of reversing the trends of adolescent and young adult anxiety, depression, and suicide by 2028, Embark is unlike any other behavioral health organization in the United States. Embark offers a full continuum and spectrum of services, a unique 25-years of specialization, a deep legacy of serving youth, and a set of internationally validated outcomes that drive treatment in real-time. For more information about Embark or its treatment programs, including wilderness therapy, long-term residential treatment centers, short-term residential treatment centers, day treatment, partial hospitalization (PHP) programs, intensive outpatient programs (IOP), outpatient, and virtual counseling.