If you are a fan of watching TED talk, check out the amazing psychologist Susan David.
Susan believes that "being positive has become a new form of moral correctness". Do we feel that our negative feelings therefore part of us, are a burden on our loved ones and friends? Is this why we feel we must present our most positive selves to the world, even to the detriment of our sanity and health?
So many people feel a deep shame for having so called 'negative' feelings such as sadness, anxiety, anger, guilt and even grief. We actively push these feelings away, in the name of positivity. We may even inadvertently shame our loved ones or friends for having these same feelings.
As a society we place a great value on positivity. Many of us fill our social media feeds with the most vibrant aspects of our lives but we might actually be having the most emotionally challenging day, week or even year. I've definitely been guilty of showing my brightest smile (you know that smile) and squeaking 'everything is just fine', when it most definitely has not been.
It's fantastic to feel happy and positive but not to the exclusion of our other emotions, or to the reality which is our lives. There is no shame in admitting you're having a difficult time, it such a brave and courageous act to bare your feelings. Acknowledging that we feel bad not just to others but more importantly to ourselves, gives us a chance to work through our negative feelings and coming out the other end feeling stronger. It is right here during our most vulnerable time, that we receive the biggest opportunity for real change and growth to happen.
No one is immune to the chaos of the human existence. We are united in the fact that we all experience birth, aging, illness and death. It is how we embrace the ebb and flow of life, both positive and negative that defines us.
What would happen if we simply became more positive about feeling negative? One of my acupuncture clients, is an amazing woman who works within our health service. This lady has given me permission to talk about her difficulty, in hope that it will help someone else. My client started treatments to help her cope with anxiety and panic attacks. Her job was highly stressful and what compounded her feelings of anxiety, was feeling unable to speak to anyone about her 'negative' emotions. The fear of appearing weak or incapable in her job role, was too strong to break down that barrier. I remember feeling awe struck and humbled at her bravery for opening up to me. With the understanding that it was not easy for this brilliant woman to share her feelings, and this was her first step in acknowledging her feelings not only to herself but to another person. My client felt she had wasted years fighting anxiety and fear, instead of working on the the process of acknowledging the feelings and working through them. I can relate to her struggle, it's not easy putting yourself out there and dealing with hard emotions. By having acupuncture treatments and counselling sessions, she was finally giving herself the space and permission to just feel without shame.
If acupuncture or counselling isn't right for you at the moment, there is lots of other ways you can express yourself. Talk to your loved ones and friends, trust that you will be heard and not judged. Generally it hurts the people closest to you more, if they knew you were having a hard time and you didn't trust them enough to share. Like they couldn't cope with you on a bad day, we have to give ourselves and others more credit. Support groups online or in person is another great way to safely share our feelings with people who have had similar experiences or issues.
Imagine a world, where you disclosed to a friend that you are feeling anxious or depressed. Your friend looks at you with wide eyes, like you have just won the emotional lottery. Your friend is so excited for you, because you have been given this golden opportunity through Growth Emotions (we've dropped the negative, in my future world) to actual create change within your life. Something isn't quite right in your relationship, job or maybe you haven't dealt with a previous trauma or life event. What is you need? You certainly do not need to be fighting this feeling, it has a purpose. What is it? Do you need more friendship, love, security, justice, space, validation, to take better care of your health or simply to be heard. The next questions should be how do I make this happen or how can I bring myself back into balance? Own your feelings.
How much power would negative feelings have over us? If we all just changed our mindset.
You can do it, you are not alone. Say no to false positivity!
Mental health Awareness warriors who run support groups in Northern Ireland
Me4Mental is a registered charity whose primary mission is to:
- Fight for better mental health care and service
- Provide immediate support for not only those suffering from poor mental health but their loved ones and carers
- Breaking down barriers! Ending the stigma, embarrassment and discrimination surrounding mental health and it's sufferers.
Me4Mental Support Links
If you or someone close to you, is experiencing a mental health crisis, it is vital to ask for help quickly. A mental health emergency is as equally important to address, as any other medical emergency. NiDirect has a great information page with links. If you need to know where to go for help, your local mental health crisis team, care plans and support for carers, click here
If you can relate to this post or are happy to share ways that you've embraced not just positive but negative feelings, please leave a comment below.