I was a happy child and I consider myself to be a happy person in general as an adult. I gladly help others, I practice yoga, I dislike conflicts and I love to light up the room with a smile or laughter.
As a matter of fact, my smile has often gotten me compliments from other people around me: “Your smile is like a ray of sunshine” are familiar words to me.
So, imagine my surprise when, a few years ago, a life coach told me these words: “You smile too much”!
Well, he didn’t exactly use those words. He said “You smile a lot.” I said “Aaaw, thank you!” and as I was feeling proud, my grin got bigger, from ear to ear. Then he added “The harder things get, the bigger your smile.” He wasn’t smiling at all when he said those words. He wasn’t judging me either. He was just making a point. And he was right.
It touched me so deeply that I felt like crying. For the first time in my life, I was being given the permission – the command, even – to stop smiling when things get hard for me.
Ever since that day, I pay close attention to this smile of mine. Until then, it had never occurred to me that such a beautiful act as smiling or laughing could be used as an emotional shield.
I would be hurt by somebody’s words or actions and I would smile, politely and silently, perfectly raised to be quiet and obedient. Even though my parents and teachers, who were beautiful people, gave me absolute freedom to express myself. I think that they also learned to smile politely precisely because they were respectful and thoughtful people, wanting to show love and appreciation to their peers. That’s what they learned and that’s what I modeled as I grew up.
Now, I realize that a smile can be abusive and deceiving when used to cover negative emotions such as sadness, anger or anxiety, to name only a few. I see this in myself and I am learning to adjust my facial expression to my true feelings. It is difficult to undo so many years of the same M.O. but it is necessary for my own wellbeing and emotional balance.
When I was openly smiling to cover up negative emotions inside, I was feeling hurt and frustrated and I was feeling betrayed. I was thinking that other people were betraying me because I couldn’t see that I was betraying myself by hiding and burying my true emotions, which, by the way, always came back later under a different form, as an argument or something else.
So, this is how I came to find out about my “fake” smile and, to be totally honest, my real smile has much more value and brightness now that I have learned to recognize the difference between those two!
I am Virginie Ligot and I am a yoga teacher and coach in emotional balance for highly sensitive women who want to be truly happy in their own lives. Follow me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/yogaemotions/ Website: www.virginieligot.com