Be Positive—the New Moral Compass
The growing trend that says positivity is the right way may be the very thing that is creating anger and frustration. Which are the so-called ‘negative emotions’ that it says to avoid.
Of course being positive is… well… positive but it can also be a mask or cover to hide the underlying feelings.
My favorite way to explain this (sorry if this bothers you) being positive can be like putting icing on a shit cake. If you’re feeling ‘shitty’ inside but you decide you should feel happy or positive what happens to the ‘shitty’ feelings? Do they evaporate under your beaming sun-shiny personality?… It can sometimes feel that way. But, at the risk of sounding negative, .. no.. they don’t go away. They’ll just wait quietly until you’re not feeling so ‘strong’ one day, you’re tired, exhausted or feeling hurt over something then BLAM… they’ll burst out even stronger.
Face Your Fear to Allow Your Happy
Every time I say ‘face the fear’ I think of one of my favorite quotes;
“Named must your fears be before banish them you can.”
Recognize the ‘negative’ feelings that are coming up, name them then breathe into them. Often this is all that’s needed to remind yourself of what’s true.
It’s important to know that the ‘negative’ emotions like anger, frustration, annoyance and disappointment are secondary emotions.
Read more about that here Control Emotions: Taming your Inner Beast
There are primary or more sensitive emotions underneath. Those are what need recognizing to feel the benefits.
For example, someone says something that irks you. You feel the tightness in your chest and belly and want to say ‘Hey you, you don’t know what you’re talking about.’ (or a variation of that) But instead, out of courtesy, or a life time of training you say nothing and smile. Or with the current trend towards positivity people will reply with vague phrases like ‘think positive’ or worse, something passive aggressive like “I prefer to be kind and not say things like that”.
Using the above analogy it’s the ‘cake’ part that when acknowledged and shifted will naturally express the ‘icing’ or positive words and emotions. You won’t have to try to say the right words.
That natural or true positivity requires self-awareness and compassion not just the ‘right’ word to say.
“Psychologist Susan David shares how the way we deal with our emotions shapes everything that matters: our actions, careers, relationships, health and happiness. In this deeply moving, humorous and potentially life-changing talk, she challenges a culture that prizes positivity over emotional truth and discusses the powerful strategies of emotional agility. A talk to share.”
Liz Coleman, RTC, is a Registered Therapeutic Counsellor based in Surrey, BC. She specializes in anxiety, anger, insecurity, and relationship problems. If you have any questions about this article or would like to schedule an appointment, please call Ms. Coleman at (604) 809-8947 or use the convenient form on her Contact page.