The Problem With Forced Positivity

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by Kellie McRae |

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farewell, loss, 2020, positivity, perspective, self-esteem, judgmental thoughts, religious, compromise

When my body started failing, I hopped on social media and asked if anyone had dealt with similar issues.

As the mystery built, I coped by using comedy and positivity, as I often do. When the weight of finally being diagnosed with lupus hit me, I kept the hardest parts to myself while sorting out what it meant for my life. In public, I continued to display comedy and positivity. 

Every so often, I let out a complaint or a frustration. I often let people know when I am venting or complaining, and I add, “Thanks for reading or listening, because this serves no one.” But in reality, it serves me.

So often, when people share their frustrations, complain, or vent, they are told things will get better or that they should think positively. However, there is a place for frustrated feelings, and sometimes you have to get them out. 

We seem to be hellbent on always smiling, looking at the bright side of things, or finding the silver lining. I tease and say I can find the silver lining in lead, but I can also allow lead to be lead.

There are days when I am angry, afraid, anxious, frustrated, and surrounded by a cloud of negativity. Only special people really get to experience these times. 

One thing I have learned about myself is that I will usually laugh to clear my tension. Even under the worst circumstances, I will make jokes. However, when I need to cry or feel bad, I make room for those feelings as well.

Always wanting to push positivity during adverse times is unnatural. We were given tear ducts for a reason, and the tears that flow are not usually tears of joy. Sadness, anger, and fear are natural feelings. We should honor them, just like we honor positivity.  

I rarely tell others to think positively or say that things could be worse. I often advise people to feel their feelings. I have shared openly that I am in therapy. That’s not because I’m a vision of togetherness. At times, I’m a total mess, and I accept that.

When I am a mess, not everyone needs to be involved. But if those close enough to see and hear about it constantly told me to pick up my spirits or that it could be worse, I would feel diminished. 

I feel what I feel, and to suppress that says there’s something wrong with it.

I am known as Queen Bubbly Bee. I will eventually get back to being positive — not because I’m faking it, but because that’s just who I am.

A few years ago, doctors were concerned that my brain was shutting down certain nonessential bodily functions. I sat with it, cried, dealt with my fears, and got angry. When I called my kids, who were freaking out, I said, “Even with brain issues, I’m smarter than 97% of the population.”

I don’t think I’ve ever heard my daughter get so angry. She yelled at me like I was the daughter. My humor was not appreciated, but it helped me deliver difficult news.

Humor is my go-to, even during the worst times, but that doesn’t mean it’s not backed up by fear, anger, or anxiety.

When someone is venting, please just listen. Don’t tell them to think positively, that it could be worse, or that someone else has it worse. Who cares? I am not living their life, and based on this logic, I should never be sad or upset because someone else will always have it worse. 

In the interim, I would like to be allowed my negative moment without being admonished for not being positive.

How do you react when you’re told to think positively or that it could be worse? Please share in the comments below.


Note: Lupus News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lupus News Today, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lupus.