#truth (aslo #dangerous!)
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.
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. . .
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.
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.
No but really…
There are certain words that you just can’t say angrily.
Even if you manage the tone…after an arduous (murderous!?) day…you can’t possibly mean “bubbles” as angrily as you *try* saying it.
Oh yes, little things CAN diffuse stress – you mustn’t underestimate the power of absurdity and silliness!
No one will know that when you leave the room for a moment it’s because you are going somewhere where you can *attempt* angrily spewing the word “bubbles” (knowing full well, of course, that you CAN’T, and that you will be returning to your meeting with a giggle in your step.)
I really appreciated this article by Benson Wong – it just came through to my inbox today via Tiny Buddha, a site I adore. I get their e-mails regularly, and generally find myself nodding along in agreement – or simply in shared experience – as I read the various stories and entries presented. What I like is that the authors are real people, from all over the globe, sharing honest experiences…many of which you may find you can relate to.
I enjoyed Benson Wong’s post because I’m the kind of person who tries to air on the side of the positive. ALL the time. I can be a real pain in the ass, I have as many flaws as the next human being (if not more!) and I most DEFINITELY have bad days…
BUT. . .
The thing is, as an Empath, I don’t HAVE the luxury of dwelling on the bad – a perpetual focus on the negative (or – FAR worse – adding to it) is a quick trip into depression for me. I’m okay to admit that – my sensitivity is absolutely a gift, but it’s something I must always remain mindful of, lest my overactive mind, and ultra compassionate heart pull me into some quicktar. Yes, you read that right (and I made it up!) It wouldn’t be sand for me. It would be flat-out TAR.
But life is stressful some…er…MOST of the time. There’s a lot going on, ALL the time, and there always will be. There’s always going to be SOMEthing to feel anxious about, frustrated over, or peeved by. So having the reminder – or several – in your arsenal is incredibly valuable.
We ALL need to step back, breathe, and remember…especially during those down-in-the-doldrums moments…that things aren’t as bad as they seem, and that we DO have a choice about how to move forward.
Changing our focus to the positive can move mountains. Okay…maybe not literally, that would be a hefty challenge (and frankly highly impressive on a superhuman scale), but you know what I mean. A positive mindset can shift the energies in your life rather dramatically, and settle your nervous system down enough to realize that villainous “mountain” is not only scalable, but possibly a lot less threatening than you thought.
I have a little bit of trouble taking things to heart too much – when I discovered I was an Empath many moons ago, it was like sudden illumination in a very dark and confusing place. I feel I am often too hard on myself, and there is no question that down and dreary things pull on my heart strings more than most.
Still, I don’t feel badly about my sensitivity anymore – what can leave me incredibly vulnerable is also a phenomenal gift. I am acutely aware of my shortcomings but I also know that I am doing the best I can and, at the end of the day, I actually DO care about being better than I was yesterday.
For me, it’s important to laugh as much as possible – the mind of an Empath is particularly active and loves to take the reins (not always a good thing.) So staying active, and looking for the positives when Life isn’t always so peachy, keeps me from taking the heaviness of the world on my own shoulders.
Evenings with my fiancé always light me up – for more reasons that I can express. We went to dinner – off the cuff – in a neighboring town recently, and it was a blast. Why? Presence. Staying present allows you to enjoy everything that is going on around you, as well as appreciate those who are with you! No worrying about the million wedding plans that are going on, or the stressful boss, or the near-100 degree heat. Just us. Not taking ourselves seriously, and enjoying being together.
There was a lamp on our table and while he was looking something up, I took these positively ridiculous selfies. When he wasn’t looking I sent them to him for a laugh. They ended up also going to our parents, which made the silliness of the whole thing even funnier.
The small little laughs you have can make such a difference in Life. It’s important we remember to stay focused on what is in front of us – at that moment – and to not take ourselves so seriously all the time. Your heart could use the break, as much as the rest of you (maybe your brain most of all?)
Don’t make excuses. Don’t justify, internalize, or minimize. That “feeling” you have – great, bad, or otherwise? It’s dead on.
That elusive, evolutionary mechanism residing within your center – brimming over with feeling, and yet altogether “emotionless”. . . That space JUST KNOWS. Humans may indeed be flawed and fragile, but we have been designed – by whomsoever you chose – to survive against the odds. Our “gut” tells us when things may be tipping in our favor, and when they might go awry (there actually IS a sabretooth hovering in that bush behind you. RUN.)
Modern life has someone drowned to reflex, but it hasn’t gone anywhere. No, it’s still there, jumping up and down with red flags a-flying trying to tell you that guy isn’t good for you on any level…that the job relocation actually IS what you need…or that maybe you need to rest today instead of pushing yourself to the point of immune shutdown.
These days life is fast-paced and all-consuming – here I am typing these words, with a cell phone plugged in next to me, texts coming through…and three other windows open, one of which is e-mail. What happened to the “down time” of old? What happened to actually FEELING and be aware of our own physiologic sensations? Technology? Maybe… It’s certainly sped up the planet to a spin that’s hard to keep up with – forget about time for a coffee, let alone having a moment to catch your breath and re-calibrate with your gut. Meditation? What’s that?
Still…despite the onslaught of time-robbing “stuff,” the intuition is ever at the ready to guide you. That split second flutter you feel is trying to tell you something. So even if life has gone on warp speed…take a moment to LISTEN. As best you can. You don’t have to take a five-minute time out…just take a breath and listen to what your body, gut, and intuition is saying. It’s got your back 1,000% – think of it as your personal, built-in radar, programmed to keep you alive and well.
And if you are one of those people who ARE aware but choose to ignore it? Do a little test and listen next time… Making excuses or turning our cheek the other way? It only hurts us in the end.
I do believe that things happen for reasons – many of the lessons I had to learn stemmed from deliberately overriding my gut (consciously and unconsciously.) Neither, I suppose, is the better teacher – one just happens to be a lot less painful. Especially after the fact when that flutter says – in the deep recesses of silence at night – “I told you so.”
Yeah… You did.