I saw a photo of myself recently which moved me to ask my friend if that is how I look all the time. She was in the photo too, animated and smiling at me, and I looked as though someone had just died. I have been told several times by people close to me that I am very serious, even too serious. I feel a slight reaction in me whenever I hear it. It’s as if I know it, but don’t want it to be true.
My friend told me that I do in fact often carry the expression in the photo, and that at first it concerned her, but I would eventually smile or laugh, and she would realize everything is okay. Others close to me have got the message through that I need to ‘lighten up’. I don’t think there is anything wrong with having a more serious expression, but it is the weight and burden that I feel inside that is coming through that is not necessary or pleasant, is causing concern in others and thus reflecting the concern I am also holding toward myself. This has led me to finally look at, question and take the steps toward changing the way I live this word: serious.
In looking at the definition, I have come to realize what it is I’m actually doing to myself within myself. I have taken the elements of the definition that I am currently living in a detrimental way:
(of a person) solemn or thoughtful in character or manner:
"her face grew serious"
significant or worrying because of possible danger or risk; not slight or negligible:
"she escaped serious injury" ·
The elements that stand out are: overthinking, over-worrying, and perceiving something intangible as a ‘danger or risk’.
I’ve noticed when I am being vulnerable, I become very serious. This is a defense mechanism for the hurt I would feel if someone were to be rough or insensitive towards me in these vulnerable moments.
When I am being vulnerable I approach the engagement very seriously, as if preparing for the possible danger or risk of being hurt. OR, I have overthought something to the extent that I have created a burden, something heavy or solemn.
There are also aspects of the definition I find beneficial and constructive:
acting or speaking sincerely and in earnest, rather than in a joking or halfhearted manner.
The words ‘sincere’ and ‘earnest’ stand out, and can be heard in the sounding of the word ‘serious’: Sincerely earnest.
- Sincere: free from pretense or deceit; proceeding from genuine feelings
- Earnest: resulting from or showing sincere and intense conviction
The process for me to walk towards living the word ‘serious’ in a more lighthearted way includes speaking the “serious” issues (sincere, earnest and genuine issues that are intensely important to me) in the moment without pretense/ulterior motives and without any expectation from another to validate or justify that which I am personally facing.
This means, express in the moment instead of suppressing or allowing issues to build up inside of me where I can make mountains out of mole hills.
To be able to laugh at myself when I over-think and over-worry about issues, without mocking myself or putting myself down about it. To take a step back out of the emotion and look at the facts alone and consider all the different possibilities. There is no emotional investment necessary, simply what works for those involved, and what does not.
To push myself to walk through the fear of expressing something important to me because I have become overly convicted to a certain outcome that I think will change or be altered if I speak it and another does not agree. In other words – to let go of expectation.
To be more open and flexible with how I view serious issues, to take a step back and seriously consider the input or insight of another. To then work together where possible to find the best possible solution.
Serious: To be sincere and earnest with no IOU’s (expectations).
Here's a video to further explore redefining and living words and how it can change your life:
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