There’s never more pressure to be happy than leading into the silly season. But with less than 3 months to go, you may actually find yourself feeling tenser and more irritable than usual.

In my case, after a few days of providing uncharacteristically direct (okay, blunt) ‘feedback’ to key people in my life, I’ve started wondering about the net impact of grumpiness.

Paradoxically, my grumpiness this week has helped lift me up – and I’m enlivened as a result.

Why might this be so?

Well, forcing yourself to appear more pleasant, forgiving and cheerful than you actually feel can lead to a whole host of negative consequences—from emotional exhaustion to withdrawal.

By contrast, being able to talk about what you’re carrying around and what you need and want from others at an emotional level is an essential part of maintaining your wellbeing. Women in particular suffer from the expectation they should constantly demonstrate happiness.

There’s no reason to grin and bear it.

Getting stuff ‘off your chest’ actually helps you:

  • Claim your space
  • Release bottled-up feelings
  • Clear negative energy
  • Pave the way for the future.

Emotional honesty – openly expressing your true feelings – can be a hugely positive and affirming experience.

It’s part of recognising your own power and opportunity to grow. It’s about defining and keeping your boundaries – what sits okay with you and what crosses the line. It’s a key part of taking care of yourself and your relationships appropriately. It prevents gripes and complaints building to a place of resentment or martyrdom.

But don’t completely let rip.

While carrying someone else’s stuff is bad for you, unfairly dumping your stuff on someone else is arguably worse.  ‘Letting rip’ could leave you feeling awful and/or cause others needless distress.

Children and the elderly can generally get away with their insensitive remarks and short tempers, but – for the rest of us – most of our foibles won’t be so readily overlooked.

Here’s how to strike a balance:

How can being your ‘authentic self’ include the release that comes from being ‘frank and fearless’ without hindering either a happy family life or your reputation for collaboration and respect?

To ensure you’re expressing your emotions constructively, try these guidelines:

  • Think about your intentions and the impact of speaking up.
  • Be clear about your ‘why’ for sharing your views/feedback.
  • Recognise your emotions are subjective and unique to your interpretation of your experiences. They’re your truth, not others’.
  • Don’t respond while you’re experiencing an elevated physiological response, such as stomach lurch, sweaty hands, feeling sick, racing heartbeat or rapid breathing – wait until these have settled.
  • Remember, your behavioural and expressive responses, including body language (frowning, pointing your finger, a raised voice, frequent interruptions) speak louder than your words.
  • Practise constructive and assertive ways of expressing your emotions:
  • ‘When ____________happens, I feel ____________ and the result is _____________.
  • ‘I’ve made a decision that I will/won’t _____________ anymore, because __________________. From now on, I will _________________.

Be well – be happy, be grumpy, be you.