When Positivity is a Struggle

It’s not always easy to look on the bright side.

People love to tell us to be positive. I can’t lie, I do it myself. I preach positivity at all times, in all things. I believe it to be the anecdote to life’s ails. If we allow our outlook to fluctuate based on what happens to and around us, we’ll be sad and angry more often than not. Optimism and positivity can help us pick ourselves up and face another day when we’d rather curl up and die.

But sometimes, being positive is just hard. We don’t’ really talk about that aspect. Look on the bright side, they say. Find the silver lining. The glass is half full. We can’t control what happens to us, but we can control our reaction to what happens to us. A bad day does not equal a bad life. The clichés go on and on, and on. The irony is that they’re all true. The cruelty is that maintaining this perspective is not nearly as easy as we like to believe.

Life sucks. Not always, but enough to warrant discontent. And when life sucks it’s difficult to focus on the fragments of it that don’t. It’s as simple as that. If someone comes and punches you in the gut, it’s nearly impossible to shift your attention to a body part that isn’t in pain. Sometimes we can’t see the sun for the clouds.

Then, in addition to our own personal issues, we look at the world only to see what seems like insurmountable damage and irreconcilable differences. It’s enough to make optimism appear foolish.

If we could just make ourselves view everything through positivity-colored glasses there’d be a lot more happy people in the world. But we can’t. And to get to a place where we can even find a positive aspect of most things takes a lot of work, personal growth and likely meditation. Looking back on a horrible situation and identifying something for which to be grateful in its midst is something most frequently accomplished in hindsight — not at the height of turmoil.

But it’s completely fine, and normal for positivity to be a struggle occasionally. We beat ourselves up for feeling down or having a negative thought. In other words, we beat ourselves up for being human. Part of the reason we battle with maintaining a positive outlook is that we believe we are supposed to have it all the time. We don’t want to feel those less desirable emotions and think that we’re doing something wrong when we do.

The first step to getting through the negativity is allowing ourselves to feel it. Suppressing anything creates a façade. Maybe it helps us hold it together a little while longer and please those around us, but refusing to acknowledge it isn’t synonymous with nonexistence. Too often, we wait until we are alone to really allow ourselves to feel what we’re going through, and find ourselves suffering in silence.

Once we feel the negativity, we can face it. Where’s it coming from? Why do we have this attitude? There’s always a reason we err more on the side of pessimism. It’s up to us to be honest with ourselves about the “why,” and determine whether or not the subsequent response has merit.

Only after we’ve felt and faced it, can we then overcome our negative energy. That’s where the positivity comes in — it helps us get through, not avoid. We find more productive reasoning to counter what we’ve identified as the motive behind our bleak outlook. We focus on solutions instead of problems. Allowing ourselves to really dig into the yin leads us to the yang.

You can’t tell someone to be whole when they’re broken. Sometimes just trying to “be positive” isn’t enough. During these times it may take a little work for us to get there — and that’s ok.

Author of the critically acclaimed book on women and relationship status, “Single That.” https://www.amazon.com/dp/1687069786

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