Why “Be Positive” Isn’t the Best Advice When You’re Down, By Michael James

This article – Why “Be Positive” Isn’t the Best Advice When You’re Down, By Michael James – came to me via Tiny Buddha and I had to share.

To add a spoiler, I’m not necessarily backing up the article because I think meditation (specifically) is the end-all-be-all necessarily – phenomenal it can be, everyone is different, and meditation is both a highly individual, and incredibly varied practice.  But I DO like a lot of what is said (and do like meditation personally), and I appreciate that Mr. James is willing to say “positivity” isn’t always what’s needed.

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I’m a positive person but that does NOT mean:

  • That I’m peachy 24 / 7
  • That I don’t make judgements
  • That I’m not an inherently flawed human being

Trust me, I am.  I make mistakes ALL the time.  I * try * to see sun and roses, but there’s plenty of rain and storm clouds too.  While I’ve been mistaken as someone who presents only that happy image, I’ve never been anything but honest about the fact that I am as much a tempest as Mother Nature – some days you don’t know what you will get.  I’ve felt badly enough about it in the past to land myself in some very abusive situations, but. . .  While I have a long way to go, I no longer fundamentally think there’s something “wrong with” me because I feel so deeply.  

As an Empath I respect this idea that some days the LAST thing you want to hear is “BE POSITIVE!” (*insert friend with annoyingly feigned smile here*)  While of course I (and anyone who might chime in with the phrase) am *trying* to be helpful, it may not necessarily be the best default. . .

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Sometimes you just don’t damn well feel like it, and that’s MORE than okay.  I’ve had a problem with minimizing, justifying, and avoiding the act of “feeling” in the past – some days it’s more important to sit with the discomfort to get to the root of things. 

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Two of the things stood out most for me from the article: 

“Like Instagram and other forms of social media, this “positive thinking” movement seems to be about living up to an ideal standard of perceived perfection all the time. Not satisfied with looking “perfect,” now you’ve got to think perfectly, too.”

True.  Scary.  Thank you for putting this solidly in verbal terms!

and. . .

“…authentic masters understood that negative thinking is part of the human journey, and that it’s okay to feel less than your best sometimes. And they also knew that it’s a quick route to self-hatred to expect any more of yourself.”

Thank you, again, for reminding that it’s okay to feel whatever emotions we feel.  There is not right, and no wrong.  We are allowed.

So yes. . .I love the designation of “professional cheerer-upper” that some friends and family have given me.  I feel honored and blessed by the compliment – right or wrong, I identify with bringing joy to others.  BUT…  BUT.  I’ve got my sad, grumpy, frustrated, gloomy, and altogether dark days too (article on that, by Madisyn Taylor.)  I’ve had to do a TON of work to recognize that it is not only okay to feel those things…but also to not want to “be positive” for a time.  

If all we ever saw was the sun (or that was all we were TOLD to see) then it wouldn’t be such a glorious thing, would it? There’d be no special positivity associated with its warmth or energy at all – so then what’s the point?  

No….I’ll take some showers along the way, and expose my soul to the rain when I need to.  Sometimes, that’s exactly what it needs – the positivity will find its way, not to worry.

 

You’re Not Going That Way…

This is something I try to be incredibly mindful of…

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Having met with fear, failure, and success over time…as do we all of the human race…I cannot help but “fluctuate” – some days are good, some are great, while others feel somber and disheartening.

I sincerely believe that each experience provides wisdom and strength – while in some ways the construct of time is man-made (or made-determined), each moment builds, follows a prior one…and collapses as the next “tick” comes.  It will march forward one way or the other and being “stuck” is a painful and lonely place to be.

Accepting and acknowledging our feelings is of vital importance – they are, after all, valid.  That said, the deeper-colored they are, the more oppressive the shadows they cast over our positivity and well-being.  

I had some flashbacks myself the other day about an abusive person who had very little good to say, and who wounded me very deeply.  It hurt.  It was frightening.  It was sobering, and saddening…  I coincidentally came across this quotation not long after them – what a lovely reminder!

Staying mindful, and as much in the moment, focused on the good things feels like the proper undercurrent for me – I have my moments, and I forgive myself that I am human, shaped by the ups and downs of Life.  I remember that I am okay NOW – I am in a great place, I have fought to be where I am…and I am SO much stronger than I was.  

When the past endeavors to persuade my heart and spirit to sink, I take a deep breath and focus on the path ahead of me, and the blessings of NOW.  You are allowed to feel…but remember that you also have control, and you ARE doing great.