You’ve just been given the news that a relative has died. On the phone a family member is hysterical and wants to know if you’re OK. Trouble is, you don’t really know the deceased relative and don’t seem all that bothered by the death.
You meet up with a long-lost friend who says she’s going to have a baby. She’s ecstatic about the news and you jump up and down with her because she’s so happy. She asks what you think and your response is, “That’s great! That’s so exciting!” But is it really though?
It’s an awkward situation that we’ve almost all been in – we are expected to have an emotional reaction to something we really have no feelings for. The awkwardness comes in when all eyes are on you for a reaction to what should be either great news or devastating news. However, you don’t really feel anything.
Think back to a time you received a terrible gift. And the person you got it from was sitting a few feet away staring at you for your reaction as you unwrap the horrendous present. You either do the typical jaw-drop, suggesting you are thrilled with the atrocious gift you just opened, or you do the half smile that makes you appear to be moderately happy.
It’s a strange situation whether you are simply on the phone with a person or actually face to face. I’ve never been one to be good at masking my feelings so I always feel that I’m being a bad actor when my reaction is delivered. It almost seems like one of those things you have to prepare for that you never know when you’ll need to use it.
But there is also this sense of regret that goes along with being emotionally fake. Later down the road I often am really saddened that I didn’t take a greater care in something I now feel should have touched me more.
At the time the insincerity seems appropriate and maybe it’s best to put your true feelings aside for the benefit of others in their time of need. When you do that maybe you really do have true feelings about the situation.