It’s OK To Be Unhappy

“We must not be scared of unhappiness as a feature of a meaningful life – it forms part of the recipe for happiness itself”

~ Giles Fraser

I have hated Facebook over the past five months. Perhaps it’s because for the most part, people only share happy things on there and I’ve been deeply unhappy while I waited for the outcome of my visa (which turned out to be a yes, incidentally.)

Hard things happen in life.

The death of someone you love, relationships ending, being unemployed or unable to work, being injured or sick, losing your home, grief, depression, acrimony.

When these things happen…

It’s OK to get away from what seems like the cyber party where everyone is having a good time except you.

It’s good to find a space where you can show up and be legitimately miserable:

  • A friend who lets you complain and cry without trying to change you or where you’re at, and knowing that this will pass;
  • Therapy with someone who is not afraid of your pain;

And then know that at the end of the bad thing that happened, once you’ve come through it, you will be more of who you are. And less of who you weren’t.

I wish our society was more accepting of misery as an essential part of the path. When I say misery, I mean suffering that may come and go in intense bursts as part of a lifetime, or lasting longer.

I believe that when the suffering is not acknowledged or you are repeatedly fed the message that it’s not OK to be miserable, you have to pop a pill, have a drink, think positively and “get over it”, when you’re invalidated over time…

This is where long-term depression might set in.

Being able to sit with misery and suffering, and let the grief pass through you for an hour, a day, a week or a year is a much under-praised skill. But when you do this, it may not turn to anxiety, depression or bitterness over the long term, and when it is done you will be even prouder of the person you have become.

Meet Anna

Hi, I’m Anna Sayce! My purpose here on this website is to provide practical techniques and information to help empaths to understand, and fix the root of their energetic overwhelm & also to help sensitives to embrace and develop their intuitive gifts. I believe that developing our spiritual & intuitive side is very powerful and allows us to improve our own lives, and if we wish, even make the world a better place for others. Discover more >


  1. Patricia

    Without the “rain” there would be no “rainbow”

  2. kirsten

    I’m so glad I saw this article, it’s funny because I just went on my Facebook and thought exactly the same thing. People only seem to advertise the positive aspects of their lives for possible fear of being judged for being anything less than happy or satisfied with their lot. I personally have had a hugely hard time grappling with my emotions in the past, and still do today actually, at the time I didn’t see why but now I do. I don’t care if people see that as weak or pathetic – pain and suffering are necessary to growth and change, and these are two of the most important components to a good life. Every time we suffer and work through it, we become stronger and hopefully better people!

    Another brill post Anna 🙂

  3. Anna

    I noticed something very ironic about this article:

    I filed it under the category: Positive thinking and healing!!!

  4. Mel

    lol @ the irony. I didn’t notice it until you pointed it out!

    Of course it’s ok to be unhappy 🙂 Often fb seems like a really negative place to me, perhaps because of all the “positive” posts. I feel like a lot of it is desperate noise, either to seem to be something we’re not (and let’s face it, no one on this earth is happy all the time) or trying to convince oueselves how “happy” we are or how great our life is. Facebook can be a great tool but sometimes it feels better to leave all that behind, close facebook for a while, and just be who you are, right now.

    Congratulations on your visa being sorted Anna. I hope you’re feeling better!

  5. Jill Cline

    I needed to hear these words “its ok to be unhappy”. As a mental health professional, i sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that I have to be happy, together, have the answers, etc. to do my job well. Lately, I have been coming to terms with my own unahppiness, yet knowing that I will live and maybe there’s a lesson to be learned in the yuck of this emotion.
    thank you! congrats on your visa.

  6. Julie | A Clear Sign

    Hi Anna,

    Now that is funny, because most of the time I write about all the hard stuff and to improve my own mood I often go to places such as facebook or blog posts! That tells me that apart from your recent challenges you probably operate in a much more positive frame of mind than I do 🙂 So glad to hear that your visa issues are resolved (finally!)

  7. Anna

    Thank you to everyone for the comments.

    Kirsten – someone pointed out to me that Facebook is set up so that people tend to share positive and happy things. That’s the way it’s designed, I guess.

    Jill – Thank you. Glad you found this helpful. In my experience, that sentiment: “I have to be happy all the time and have a perfect life in order to help others” is one that is shared by tons of people who work in the helping/healing sector (I work with a lot of them). But it’s not true. By embracing pain as well as happiness as part of the human condition I think we can help others to accept themselves more. Thanks for commenting!

  8. Alexi

    Hi Anna,
    Great article, made me realize how I am trying to hide my unhappiness as much as possible at times.

    Glad you have you visa and able to work again!

  9. Anna

    Hi Julie! I also find that Facebook is fun to visit when I’m feeling good. There are funny and inspirational posts on there too. It’s when I go through a prolonged period of misery that it begins to feel not so good for me. Thanks for stopping by… 🙂

  10. Anna

    Thank you Alexi, Glad you found this helpful

  11. Joe

    One particular person has been heavily promoting her version of “enlightenment”. Something about this has been irritating me heavily. This person says to an effect that an enlightened person is permanently full of joy. This article has given me some insight into why this person’s “enlightenment push” is annoying – few people can expect to be in a state of joy all the time. I personally find these kinds of teachings to be highly irresponsible.

  12. Sélénée

    Thank you for this article. It feels good to know that I’m not the only one who thinks this way. I cancelled my facebook account end of May this year because I was going through a rough patch (post break-up in a relationship) and was depressed because of the HUGE effort I felt I had to make in order to ‘pretend’ (for people I wasn’t even close to) that everything was all right and that I was moving on good. Plus there seems to be some sort of collective ‘pressure’ on one to look happy for all to see, specially on social networks like facebook. I just hated it. I must say that since I cancelled my account I am more grounded and more in touch with what and who is most important to me.

  13. Anna

    Joe – I hear you. I also find the concept of enlightenment as pushed by some spiritual teachers hard to swallow. I just don’t believe that it’s very available or desirable on the human path. I saw a TED talk by a professor of Social work named Brene Brown who said that our brains are programmed for reproduction not happiness. (I thought that was interesting.)

    Anyway, in my experience, there can come a point on a person’s spiritual path (in a particular lifetime) where a person has found inner peace, and has learned to get their needs met in life. Perhaps this person has worked out their karma and learned most of their lessons for this lifetime i.e. there are not any events that are on their way to shake up their world.

    If you read the person’s energy or get to know them, it could look like enlightenment because peace, joy and happiness are present. But it does not mean that person is permanently enlightened. It just means their energy is in balance – and that’s rare.

    I don’t feel comfortable with people pushing enlightenment or selling it. It’s putting an end goal to spirituality and saying “this is what you need to aim for”. I prefer the idea of enjoying the journey and knowing that as human beings we will never be done and we will never be perfect. I prefer to leave the idea of energetic/spiritual perfection and enlightenment to the divine.

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