If it requires fake smiling I’ll probably not come.
Below is the podcast version of this article. The podcast explains things so much better than a blog post. I invite you to listen and also hear some examples and enjoy some laughs! You can subscribe to the Podcast by opening your favorite podcast app and typing “Balanced Working Moms” into the search or click here for a link to the podcast on iTunes.
Lessons from Seinfeld
When I was growing up, Seinfeld was everyone’s favorite show. I think it aired Thursday nights because I remember we’d talk about it at school the next day and laugh ourselves silly.
Do you remember the “Serenity Now” episode?
Frank Costanza’s is George’s dad, he’s an older man and a real character. He’s high-strung and FUNNY, always getting upset and overreacting. His doctor gave him a relaxation cassette. When his blood pressure gets too high he was supposed to say “Serenity Now!!”
Then Kramer started doing it! Every time he got stressed he’d say it, too. Even when things got extremely upsetting. He got egged by some kids and used “Serenity Now” to keep himself from getting angry.
But then George was warned by someone he hated. The person told him “Serenity now doesn’t work. It just bottles up the anger and eventually you blow. Serenity now, insanity later.”
You can imagine what happens later in the show….
Kramer finally shows his emotions and lets things out…and it’s not pretty.
Does “Serenity Now” sound like you? Where you’re feeling a certain way and you hide it with a smile and pretend everything’s okay?
How many times a day do you pretend to be cheerful, and then you later blow up at your kids or your husband?
How Exhausting is it to Be Fake?
Think of a time where you had to do some fake smiling or fake cheerful interactions.
On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 taking the most energy, how much energy did the fake smiling take?
For me, it’s probably a 9. A 10 would be an heavy workout at the gym.
Fake smiling for me would be almost as exhausting as a gym workout.
How about for you?
Personally, I can’t think of many things that make me feel more tired than being fake.
Being Fake In Retail
A few years ago my sister was visiting from another country. We were in a very ritzy shopping center in Rockville, MD.
We would go into one store for a few minutes, then another. In and out. After doing this a few times she noticed something.
In every store we went to, the saleswomen had a fake overly cheerful attitude.
Where she’s from, people don’t do this. You don’t fake joy or cheerfulness. There’s no cultural expectation to be something other than yourself.
My sister felt badly for these women. She said — imagine how exhausting this is for them. I agreed! For me, even one fake sentence depletes me for hours. Doing this the whole day? Ouch.
As a Mom, I wake up exhausted. I’m exhausted even when I’m sleeping. I seriously don’t need more things to exhaust me.
And being cheerful (aka fake!) when I don’t feel like it, is one of the most exhausting things in the world for me.
Burying the Feeling
This way of thinking, depending on where you live, can be very different than the norm. You hear it all the time — science shows faking a smile actually makes you happier. Well, I did some research and this isn’t necessarily true (I’m sure you’re shocked to hear this!)
We’re taught to “fake it till we make it.” If you act happy and cheerful, you’ll become that way. Maybe.
But you know what for sure won’t help you?
Suppressing your real feelings.
When someone is rude to us and we politely smile and act nice to them, what happens to your body?
Your heart may beat fast, your breathing also speeds up. You’re angry. Yet you let out a calm response.
It’s not socially acceptable to scream and beat up this rude person who just maligned you.
So you grit your teeth and give her fake smile.
And what happens?
That awful feeling just got buried deep. Getting it out is going to be hard. Your fakeness cost you a lot.
Today I have a new perspective to show you.
Don’t be rude — of course, I’m not advocating that. But how about not practicing “Serenity Now?” Don’t be overly profusive if you’re not feeling it.
Or if someone is rude to you and instead be overly polite back, say instead “wow. That was a barb.” Call it like it is!
There are layers to fakeness.
If I’m feeling icky and I come across someone, I don’t have to paste a pretend smile on my face and a hight squeeqed “GOOD MORNING.”
Instead I can politely nod. Say hello, and not be rude, but also not be fake.
Feel Your Mood
It’s healthy, I believe, to feel your mood and act accordingly instead of “fake.” Again, I’m not telling you to be rude. Instead, I’m advocating that you be yourself. You don’t have to fake cheerfulness if you’re not feeling cheerful. Instead, Be YOU!
Who ever would have thought we could learn a life lesson from a seinfeld episode!