I’m the most positive person I know—really, I am—but it seems that positivity is not always the best answer.
I have trained myself to be positive in every situation. Even if I had to fake it, I was positive.
So why did I feel so cluttered inside? Was I actually a positive person, or was I fooling myself?
I started to dig deep into the World Wide Web to understand what I was doing wrong. I thought I was supposed to be positive. I learned that too much of anything is a bad thing, even positivity.
When positivity is forced to disguise or hide pain, worry, heartbreak, or fear—all of which are normal human emotions—it becomes harmful.
Apparently, when we use positivity to mask normal human emotion, it becomes toxic, and can be detrimental to our mental health.
I discovered toxic positivity is harmful when going through difficult times. Instead of being able to share authentic human emotions, our feelings are dismissed, ignored, and invalidated.
So now what?
In general, it is a good idea to live life in a positive way. It makes us happy all around. But it’s not always the best way. We need a balance of positivity and negativity to see things clearly.
How do we achieve this? Here are three steps to process our pain:
As we move about this life of ours, we are going to experience pain, worry, heartbreak, and fear. As much as we need to feel and experience the most amazing parts of this life, we equally need to feel and experience the not-so-great parts of it.
As much as we might want to ignore and push it away, we have to open ourselves up all the way to feel everything.
When we cover up our feelings, we are doing more harm than good. Those feelings still exist within us. We just push that sh*t down—way down. When we push those feelings down, we carry them with us until we explode one day—or even worse, it never escapes and therefore always lives within us. That gives us that cluttered feeling inside.
We need to open ourselves fully and completely. We must welcome every part of this life, the good and the bad: feel it all.
As we open ourselves up to feel the pain, worry, heartbreak, and fear, we will start to process it.
Processing means coming to terms with what has happened. To allow ourselves to feel hurt when we experience pain. To allow anxiety when we feel worried. To allow disappointment when we are heartbroken. To allow feeling scared when we experience fear.
This is where we can stay in bed and shut out the world in order to process it. Shut our phone off, and shut the world out. We’ll need this time by ourselves to process.
We should give ourselves time to process our feelings. There is no time limit, but the goal is to process them and move on. We can’t live here forever, or we find ourselves in danger of getting stuck, which is just as bad as covering up our feelings. Process it and move along.
After we feel and process, we enter the healing part—whew, almost there.
This is where we are kind to ourselves. We get the chance to forgive whoever or whatever caused us to feel this way in the first place. We can also use this time to forgive ourselves. I know that I often love to blame myself in some sort of way, so instead: forgive, release, and let go.
Healing is opening ourselves to love and be loved. Let your friends and family back in your life, switch your phone back on, and unlock that door. Let your support group support you.
This is where we get to reinvent ourselves. We can try new things. We can make new goals within our lives. We can kinda be whatever the hell we want to be.
Use this time to think about the unimaginable. Success is the best revenge. Not that we want revenge in any way on whoever or whatever caused us hurt, but rising above is revenge enough.
No one is spared a life without pain, worry, heartbreak, or fear. That is just the way it is. We all experience it. We all suffer in our own way from it.
But don’t use positivity to hide the pain, worry, heartbreak, or fear. Recognize it, feel it, process it, and heal from it.
Once we’ve done the work, we can use all of that positivity to move forward and create a happy life.