Being Forced to Smile Can Cause Shadow Baggage

As I make the point in Wisdom The Course, being forced to smile when it isn’t your current, genuine, authentic, wishful feeling to do so generally means a form of suppresing, however mild it may be.

The reason for this is that the real authentic feeling that you are or were feeling in that moment is denied.  This feeling is, by definition, the alternative to the smile that you are being demanded to make, and is seen as the ‘obstacle’ to the smile that the other people want, so a forced smile can often override it.

And it can even be demanded by people who are not nearby, or even still with us in life.  If a way of being in order to gain the approval of others is deeply ingrained it may be carried on through life long after the person who instilled it has moved elsewhere.

Of course, this happens much more to children than to adults – there aren’t many adults who still get told what to do.  But there still can be some subtle variations, and either way, for adult or child, smiling when we don’t feel like smiling isn’t good, isn’t authentic, and really leads to the question; What feeling or wish are we suppressing that we are really feeling?”  And actually, yes, there are many adults who presume to tell others what to do and how to be.

So I don’t like to repress, deny or override my true feelings for the sake of a demanded smile or anything else, or to see it being forced in others.  And it particularly irks me when I see children being forced to smile – or whatever.  Some shadow of my own there, perhaps, from the memories when I was forced to play their ‘put on a good smile’ games.  But also, really because I can see the damage that it will do to the child then, and in future years.

Indeed, this forced smiling and denied genuine feeling is quite an unhealthy activity alround.  Rather, I like to allow myself to be with the feeling and see what it is I want to honour.  Maybe I don’t want to be doing something.  Maybe I want to become aware of something else that I feel strongly about.  I honour the true feeling and decline the invitation to the pretence show.  If I do that, this may later allow the return at an appropriate time to a genuine and authentic smile for the right reasons.

The more free we feel to smile, the more likely we are to do it for the right reasons in any case.  Happiness is our natural state, so we don’t need to force it when we know that there is something that is getting in the way that needs acknowledging.

May we light up our shadows if, as and when appropriate, and, together as a society, decline the temptation to cause further shadow in others by our judgemental demands and unkindness.

James Blacker

About James Blacker

James BlackerAs founder of first Papillon Human Potential, and, later, Whole Life Whole World, James is involved in pioneering virtually all of the Whole Life Whole World websites and projects. As an Integral Philosopher, Body Wisdom pioneer and Wisdom Coach, his work aims to strengthen human consciousness by illuminating human potentials in all their glorious dimensions. He is the author of the epic coaching programme, Wisdom The Course: The Way of True Success, and The Wisdom Diet, and is co-founder of The Body Wisdom Campaign and Culture, which aims to promote and encourage a culture of listening to the body for the benefit of all our health. James has also recorded audio products and interviews with some of the country’s top health experts, including Good Sleep with UK Sleep Expert, Dr Neil Stanley, Nutrition and Healthy Cells with the Human Nutritionist, Dr Laurent Bannock, and Strength for Life with founder of The National Rehabilitation Centre for The Paralysed, David Heard. More about James Blacker.