A positive mindset is not all about flowers and sunshine…
I’m all for being positive. Who isn’t? But it makes me absolutely crazy that so many people are convinced that admitting to feelings of doubt, fear, anxiety, anger, even to themselves – is being negative….even when, or especially when, they are going through hard and difficult times….
Here’s what I’m talking about.
A friend in crisis tells me how guilty she feels because “I get so down.”
She’s a working mom in the middle of a brutal divorce, responsible for a teenage daughter with issues of her own – and she feels guilty because she gets down? Really???
A cancer patient on the far edge of exhaustion is afraid she’s not being positive because she’s can’t always keep a smile on her face and do yoga and go to support groups like she’s supposed to. She apologizes, “I don’t have the energy to smile, much less do yoga,” and wonders, “Is there something wrong with me?”
She’s 42 years old, dealing with chemotherapy, husband, kids, and (just barely) a job -and she worries something’s wrong with her because she doesn’t feel like smiling???
Somehow we’ve come to believe that everything not Hallmark Card sunshine-bright is negative – a failure of self; dark and destructive. But honestly – is admitting that things are rough and you’re freaked out – exhausted, down, stressed, sad, angry – being negative? I don’t think so.
Negativity is feeling guilty when you can’t find the energy to be upbeat. Negativity is self-doubt, beating yourself up, second guessing every move you make. It’s thinking deep down that how bad you feel is all your fault.
And, by the same token – positivity has nothing to do with always being cheerful and only walking on the sunny side of the street…
Being positive is a mindset that transcends cheerfulness.
Being positive encompasses, rather than excludes, what is difficult and dark. You can fake being cheerful – but you can’t fake being positive.
Being positive begins with acknowledging and honoring the difficulties you’re facing.
The first, essential step toward a positive mindset is to be honest with yourself about what it is your going through. The second is to honor the complexities of the emotions you’re feeling because of it.
Being positive is the ability to admit you’re afraid, stressed out, sad or angry.
Holding in your feelings and emotions only makes the feelings worse. Be open with others, and you’ll be less judgmental with yourself. Allow yourself to receive support and comfort from others and you’ll be more compassionate with yourself.
Being positive is being realistic about what you can and cannot do.
Positivity isn’t a psychic magic potion that bestows energy on anyone who can uncork the bottle. Accepting the physical and emotional limitations imposed by your situation gives you the chance to create practical ways to cope – day by day, one day at a time.
Being positive is not beating yourself up for being down.
Self-blame consumes energy like a Humvee consumes gas. You need your energy for better things – like time with your family; enjoying a dinner with friends; a little personal TLC.
Being positive is allowing for the negative – without getting negative about it.
Positivity is an on-going fail-and-start-again, succeed-and-keep-going practice – the process and the goal being one and the same thing. Practice means you’re always becoming a more positive person – even when you’re feeling down – and always living a positively directed life – even when things are dark and you can’t quite see the light at the end of the tunnel….