The Trouble with Positivity


So this might seem like a bit of an odd topic for me to blog about, especially considering how open I have been about my desire to be a more positive person. I want to make it clear that I think striving to be more positive is a good thing. We are, in general, fairly negative people. We spend more time talking about the things we hate than the things we love. People have made ‘careers’ on the internet being negative and bad mouthing people and media. We focus in on the wrong things, and we often project that negativity onto others. All of this is bad. The rise in what I would call the ‘positivity movement’ in response to this is, for the most part, good, it comes with its own issues, however.

I didn’t set out to find myself on the precipice of this “movement,” but at some point, I realize that I was. I was on my own journey to reduce the negativity in my life and to project more positive energy out to others. Part of the issue with my mental health issues is that it’s extremely easy for me to focus on what’s wrong in my life and the world, and then find myself in a trap. My solution to this has never been doing one thing or another, but I did think to myself, “If I think and act more positively then it will have a good impact on my life.”

It’s been a slow journey, I am a negative person by nature, but I have seen good benefits already. While on this journey I started to realize that a lot of other people were as well. The more I dug into it, the more I realize it wasn’t a small thing but rather a trend. People of all walks are identifying themselves and part of the positivity community and pushing to be part of that in many aspects of their lives.

People who write/make videos about pop culture stepping away from “ten movies I hate” to “ten movies I love.” Streamers are saying that their community is for positivity, and people are coming to express that themselves. People putting bans on specific topics in their social media, or at least prohibitions on how those topics are discussed. People actively seeking positivity as a step towards better mental health. All manner of things in an effort to be more positive, and all manner of people working towards those things.

Again, I need to emphasize that I think for the most part this is a good thing, even great.

There are several glaring flaws to this though, and I think a lot of people are ignoring it.

First and foremost, I am not going to force myself to feel and express emotions that I am not feeling. There is almost this dogmatic take that people get on the positive attitude that seems to say “if it’s not a good feeling don’t share it” or “always find the silver lining in everything.” I am not going to do this. I feel like shit sometimes. I wake up, and everything hurts emotionally and mentally. It’s hard to go forward when I see things happening around me, and it’s hard to deal with the consequences I am still forced to face because of mistakes in my past.

I am not going to pretend like this is not real.

I might try to force myself to no longer wallow in my depression and negativity, but when I feel down, I am going to allow myself to feel that and allow myself to express it if I need to. Cutting yourself off from emotions simply for the sake of “being positive” isn’t a path to success. You are bottling, and it will eventually come out.

Yet some people would argue against this and say it’s all a state of mind. Never acknowledge your negative emotions, and eventually, you will stop feeling them.

Secondly, I am not going to force myself to respond to everybody with positivity. One of the biggest reasons for my desire to change my outlook was that I was taking it out on other people. I wanted to work on and stop that. To that end, I have started to ignore more things that upset me and let it go when I can, but I am not going to shut it down completely. I don’t believe in harassing others, but I also don’t believe in this idea that you can just hug the shitty personality of other people.

There seems to be this approach of never responding in a harsh way to people that are negative to you, and I just don’t buy it. I am not going to feel bad because when confronted by someone acting like a dick I don’t just smile and say, “Well I disagree, but smiles and kisses.”

People always say, “Well, this is a more effective way to stand up to trolls.” No, it’s not, because there is no effective way to stand up to trolls. Often when you are standing up to them, it’s not about them but about the other people out there being inspired or feeling defended because you say no to someone being awful. It also gives me the chance to express myself. Again, I try to control insults, but if I feel I need to stand up for myself, others, or something I care about I am going to do so and not force myself to greet it with false smiles simply for the sake of “being positive.”

I think this attitude of you must always be positive and react positively is simply put, false. It is taking the issue of how negative we are and swinging it in the other direction. I want to be a more positive person. I want my writing not to be hateful, even if I am giving something a bad review. I want my stream to be a generally positive place. I want to look at the bright side more than the dark. I want to ignore things when I can to keep my momentum going in the right direction.

I don’t want to put on this false bravado and hide behind “being positive” like an emotional armor. I am going to feel what I feel, and I am going to express myself when I so choose. I am not going to pretend that everything and everyone in life can be met with a smile and that that is the solution to the world’s ills.

Moving towards being more positive is a great thing, and I hope to continue on my journey and that others have success with it. Swinging from one extreme to the other where we are hiding behind a dogmatic view of what we should behave like for the sake of being positive is problematic.

I don’t want to discourage or insult anyone with this particular blog post. Maybe for some greeting everything with a smile comes naturally and it’s not a fake. Maybe for others, it’s not about being dogmatic, but instead, they simply prefer to always focus on silver linings. No two people are the same. I think it’s generally clear when it’s forced and when it’s not. This is a reflection of my experience with some of the not so great sides of this “movement.”

Categories: Personal, Thoughts

5 comments

  1. So, a few things for you to consider. Our brains are wired to be negative. That basically goes back to cavemen. Worry and stress about survival. So it is easier. So Im sorry in a way, but you’re not that special because as you said you are a ‘negative person.’ I’m not going to tell you what to do, I don’t care, and it’s none of my business except that you did post which leaves you open to comments. But as someone who used to be way more negative than you (trust me. I win if we had a contest), being positive and making the effort to be positive is so much easier. Being positive doesn’t mean that your whole life is all wine and roses. No one’s is. But how are you reacting when the negative stuff happens? Are you pissed and angry? Or do you just take a breath, get upset for 10 seconds and learn from it. Do you really want to be that person who fights with everyone on line about everything? Trust me, no one likes that person. Yes, it can be a form of entertainment. But there are people who have blocked me on FB pages because I asked legit questions in a non-confrontational way. I think the best thing that has happened to me since I made the choice to become more positive is my reactions. Yes, I have bad days, yes, I get upset. But you know what, Megan? When those things happen, they don’t destroy me. I would get dumped or F up at work and I would hate myself for days! Now, because of my positivity, I don’t let that 5 bad minutes ruin my life! Maybe my mood drops from a 10 to a 6, but that’s it. The positivity is still there. Look, you’re going to do what you want, but when you continue to be negative, you are going to find yourself all alone. No one is going to want to be around you. Is that what you want?

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    • I am pretty sure you didn’t actually fully read my post or just misinterpreted it (intentional or not), that can’t be helped. However, no I am not interested in “winning any sort of contest” with you or anybody else or even participating in them. Honestly, you lost my interest once you went that route. Hope you have a good one though

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  2. Nothing wrong if you feel low, betrayed or plainly negative. However, these emotions grow on you and the mind has the uncanny ability to wallow in those. The trick is to get out of that negative feeling as soon as possible.

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