Keepin’ it Real
If you’ve been trying really hard to keep your pecker up recently and you’re are finding it can be hard going there might be very good reasons for that.
Sorry to break it to y’all, but positivity isn’t the cure-all people think (hope) it is.
You can try sprinkling magic positivity dust on everything to make problems go away, but please check in with yourself: might this be because you find reality too difficult?
Perhaps something in your life, or the culture, or this mad world needs to change? I’m thinking, for example, of errrm, war, systemic racism, misogyny, cruelty and neglect, and the terribly unjust distribution of wealth on this planet. That’s just for starters.
When people who are suffering reach out, how about this: listen. And when you are suffering: listen.
Validate before leaping in with a shovel full of positivity.
There’s plenty of inspirational material out there, in fact you can hardly avoid the ruddy stuff, and no doubt it’s right for some of the people some of the time.
However, I believe, people benefit from feeling heard and understood first, not by being proved wrong by the fact that there really are plenty more fish in the sea, there really is light at the end of the tunnel, the sun really will rise again tomorrow, and as one door closes another one opens.
When you force positivity on people it really can make them feel worse. It can make them feel that expressing their observations, fears or concerns is pointless.
It can make people think there’s something wrong with them for not simply choosing to put up with things as they are and look on the bright side. It can make them feel terribly alone. And negativity thrives in isolation.
Of course, we all do it sometimes, it’s become so ‘normal’ to err towards positivity and deny our own ‘negative’ feelings, as well as those of others. It’s understandable, we don’t want to be accused of whingeing or bringing people down, or risk our place in a social group.
And of course, wallowing in misery and habitual whingeing can be just as unhelpful and tedious. Others will soon stop listening.
As is almost always the case, there is a middle path. So, maybe let’s start by allowing ourselves to admit that some things really do suck, then we can move on to thinking about whether there’s anything we can do that might help.
In the words of the sage Ali G:
Keep it real.
I’ve no idea why he doesn’t have greater status in the world of wellbeing, being well, so very, very wise.
Here is a link to someone who puts it so much better than me: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000y6n4 Listen now before it expires. Such a wise lady