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Stop being so positive

By January 28, 2020 No Comments


I listened to an interesting podcast yesterday by Susan David. The gist of it is about how the constant “order” of “just think positive and everything will be ok” can often make us feel like a failure when things aren’t ok or work out in a good way. Often it can leave us thinking we might not have thought positively enough.
Unfortunately the self-development industry has taught us to be positive, constantly, which, to a degree, is a good thing. But it didn’t teach us to also let the negative feelings be and support others in having the negative feelings and allowing authenticity in that area in order to let go and overcome negative emotions. Instead we say, it will all be fine, don’t worry, just think positively. We even teach our kids that there is no need in having negative feelings because everything will be ok. We all are guilty of telling them “It’s ok, don’t worry, it’ll all be fine” when they tell us they hurt. But it is very important for us to learn to sit and experience our feelings so when things are not ok and when what we worried about or feared the most actually becomes reality, like a loved one dying of a disease, or a job loss etc., we don’t feel like we made a mistake by not being positive enough and therefor carrying guilt and shame – more than we already carry in our life. Instead showing up to your emotional experience will help you thrive and develop a resilience and capability in your world to future emotional rollercoasters.

But “how” you might ask? “People often don’t want to know or hear about my pain…” Yet they call themselves your friend? (Just a side note….)

How? – e.g. by journaling about your feelings and finding someone to read it and asking more questions so you can unpack more and more of your emotions and understand yourself and work through, knowing that at the other end there is strength, authenticity and a lot of learning waiting for you. Or talking to a “professional friend” as I call them, which can be a counsellor or a life coach.

The WHO predicts that by 2030 depression will be the largest cause of disability, considering mental and physical disability, which is a scary prediction and it really is time to let things not be ok and own up to it.

“Sawubona” is zulu for “hello” but it means “I see you, and by seeing you I bring you into being”. Isn’t that beautiful? When we meet someone and use our greeting of “how are you?” We don’t really want to know and often the question is placed with us being absent, eyes on some sort of screen or busy doing something else. Not really an invitation to share how you are, is it. The question is mostly merely rhetorical, not really meant for an honest answer. And people get into the habit of saying “fine, thanks” without being fine, actually often feeling quite the opposite. We have our “are you ok?” day. And again it implements that we have to be ok rather than an invitation to open up and share how we really feel. How often do you really feel invited to share your emotions, your state of being? Particularly when it is not a good one? Really ask yourself that question and when you find out that it is very rarely you know that you are not being authentic and honest with yourself or your friends and family.

What can you do? Next time when someone asks you “How are you?” may be you can ask back, “do you really want to know?”. And then wait for their response. May be you get an invitation to share your reality of emotions, then it is up to you what to do. Mostly though the response will be a rather baffled one, they don’t know what to say and try to change the subject quickly. You will realise how falsely used this question is and how little it attributes to us feeling better because no positive action is being followed. And for yourself, choose the people you really want to know about how they are and be prepared to listen to them, inviting them to sharing their emotional state and if you don’t want to know, may be change your greeting to Hi, what a beautiful day, or simply Hi, Good morning, or good afternoon.

And know that someone who will always listen to you and ask the question in a meaningful way is a Life Coach. Listening without judgement and opening a space for you to be and support you in moving forward to a place in your life where you want to be is what a Life Coach will do for you.

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