Have you ever had to force a smile? You are in a really bad mood but you have a meeting to attend and you're expected to be cheerful. Don’t you feel exhausted at the end of that meeting? That is exactly how a person going through mental illness might feel like. Exhausted at the end of every day, suppressing their real emotions and hiding behind the mask of a forced smile. Forcing a smile can be both emotionally and physically draining.
In various research studies conducted on employees whose job profiles required them to engage in surface acting (altering facial expressions to stay positive even while experiencing negative emotions) indicated that repeated use of surface acting can result in mental and physical health issues, increased stress levels, burnouts and low job satisfaction (Brotheridge & Grandey, 2002; Grandey, 2003; Hülsheger & Schewe, 2011).
There are various research studies suggesting how forcing a smile can be helpful to uplift our mood at times and that it can also alleviate the depressed mood. But is it always the best way of regulating our emotions? Is it always a good option to force a smile to suppress our emotions? This technique can be helpful when used optimally and not as a habit for hiding our true feelings. Regular use of this technique can result in loss of authenticity, lack of social support and loneliness. It is necessary that we express the way we truly feel from time to time and find healthier ways of coping with our emotions.
Some reason why people might force a smile?
One might force a smile because -
showing their real emotions would be a sign of weakness.
of fear of negative judgement or being abandoned.
they feel that it can make them more productive at work.
of social obligation to be polite or look cheerful.
they feel that expressing their emotions can add an emotional burden on others.
people struggling with mental illness sometimes themselves do not clearly understand the reason behind their emotions and so they find it difficult to explain it to others. Another reason why they might try to suppress these emotions.
What are some of the reasons you have forced a smile? How has smiling often helped you? Let us know in the comments below.
If you or a loved one is struggling with any mental health issues, reach out to experts at ManoShala.
One can be productive and friendly without having to hide their emotions and forcing a smile.
Muskan Gupta, Psychologist, ManoShala