When someone in your life is hurting, should you hide your happiness from them? We all may ask ourselves this question at some point. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
Should You Hide Your Happiness (When Those Around You are Unhappy)?
Human beings are social animals. We thrive when we feel a sense of belonging and community. Sharing our joys and sorrows with each other comes naturally. Not only that, it is something that we are biologically and spiritually wired to do. Feeling safe and freely able to share your feelings is an important aspect of having healthy relationships with others . . . and with yourself.
However, there are times when what we are feeling is not compatible with the feelings that others are experiencing.
That’s when things can get tricky. After all, your feelings matter, even if someone else is feeling differently. On the other hand, being a good friend or family member includes being sensitive to the feelings of others. Finding the balance can be incredibly challenging at times.
In Ways Both Big and Small
This tricky situation can come up in many ways, both big and small.
Maybe you head to work one day wearing your gorgeous new coat that you got for a steal. Getting a good deal always pumps you up. Wearing something beautiful makes you feel amazing. You can’t wait to show off your find to your cubicle mate, who always appreciates a great sale. But when you get to work, you find her crying at her desk because she was in an accident over the weekend. No one was hurt, but her car was totaled. She loved that car. You hang your new coat up at your desk without remark. You sit down and listen as she shares her fear, frustrations, and anger. Maybe you cry with her, too.
Or maybe you just found the person of your dreams. You are in love. No, you are IN LOVE – all capital letters, all the way. You are ready to shout it from the rooftops. You are so filled with bliss, it seems like it is bursting from your very pores! But when you go to share the happy news with your best friend, you find her devastated after learning that her spouse was unfaithful. Her entire world is falling apart and you know that the last thing she wants to hear is how in love you are. So you say nothing. Instead, you listen. You hug her as she cries. But you can’t help but feel a little weird because she’s the one you tell things to . . . and you aren’t telling her the biggest news of your life.
Assess the Situation
When you are able, step back and look as pragmatically as you can at the situation. How important is it that you share your news right away? Can it wait? How long is the person likely to be upset?
Your new coat matters because it is fun and it makes you feel good. But it won’t really matter if you wait until tomorrow to talk about it. Your friend’s car accident, on the other hand, may be more complicated to assess. If she has another form of transportation already, it may not be a big deal. If this is a financial hardship, however, it could be a real problem. And if she’s feeling a lot of trauma and fear from the accident itself, she could be hurting for a while. Only by listening can you have any idea what she is feeling and what she needs. She may even feel better if you take her mind off the situation by sharing the news about your new coat.
Don’t Gush But Don’t Lie
If the situation is more serious and emotional, as in the second example, you may find that you need to just share your truth before the person is ready to hear it. If so, do it as gently as you can. Be as factual as possible unless you are invited to share more.
When someone we love is truly hurting, it may take them time to be able to handle our great news, especially if it hits too close to home. Be honest. Be yourself. Just do your best to be gentle. Don’t lie, don’t gush, and don’t expect them to behave a certain way. Just allow them to be and feel as they do.
Find Other Sources of Support But Don’t Distance Yourself
Being sensitive and caring matters. But your feelings of happiness matter too. If you can’t share those feelings with someone, it is okay to find other places to share them.
Just do your best to not distance yourself. That person still needs you in their life. They need to know you care and that you are there for them.
Your Happiness Can Even Help Them
Sometimes the best way for a person in pain to get beyond that pain is to find other things to think about. Once the initial shock and pain has passed, your happiness might actually offer them a glimmer of hope for their own future. After all, life is made up of ups and downs, sunshine and shadows. Your happiness can be a reminder that even in the darkest moments, there is light.
Answering the question “Should you hide your happiness when someone you know is unhappy” can be a complicated process. Unfortunately, there is no one right answer. The best thing you can do is listen, care, be supportive, and allow love to lead your way.
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