Are you a positive person?
The whole positive vibe thing bugs me a bit.
Posting memes on Instagram with ‘good vibes only’ type of slogans.
No education, no advice about how to be positive, just a photo and a catchy caption. Not that there’s anything wrong with it in itself, all the intentions are good I get that.
But I find it a bit unintentionally toxic.
Of course there are some great accounts where practical advice is offered on this topic and I actually love these accounts, they are not what I’m thinking about here.
I’m talking about the ones that just promote being happy. All. The. Time… but never really indicate what positive is or how to get to it.
Because actually, everyone sometimes feels a bit crap. A bad day at work, an argument with someone you care about, bad news, general hormone induced moodiness, depression, anxiety. There will always be days where you aren’t 100%.
To not acknowledge that doesn’t really help people who aren’t currently feeling really positive about life.
Because it isn’t as straight cut as you are either a positive person or a negative person.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t aim to have a positive outlook on life. I’m simply saying that someone with a positive outlook will sometimes not feel positive. Maybe for a few hours, maybe a few days, maybe a few weeks. I can pretty much guarantee everyone who’s ever posted a positive things only type of post has had days where that’s the last way they would describe their feelings.
The healthy thing here is to acknowledge those feelings and deal with them.
This is where I feel the positive vibes only mantra can actually end up making you feel worse. Feeling bad for not feeling great, like this makes you a lesser human than all those super positive people on Facebook with their quotes and happy photos.
For me what is positive?
Those days when you really feel like shit. But you get up and do what you need to do to make your day or week better. Maybe that means on a Sunday all you really want to do is stay in bed but you get up and go food shopping and meal prep for the week or do laundry or tidy up. Those little actions you don’t feel like doing but do because you know you’ll feel better the next day if they are done, you know your week will be more productive, so you look to make your future better even though right now you aren’t feeling it.
For me being positive is doing little things in the hope that those little actions might combine together to start making you feel a bit lifted. To not hide away until it all feels sunny again but keep on going until the sun comes back out.
Above all it’s acknowledging that your feelings don’t need to be black and white – you don’t need to be positive OR negative, you can try to look on the positive side but have days where that just seems a bit too much, and when that happens you can just keep going, not forcing yourself to feel happy but just letting yourself be as you are for that moment.
Above all I believe your actions demonstrate your positive outlook. Words are intentions. You can have ambition but if you don’t take action they remain ambitions. You can say positive things but if you don’t live by positive actions they are just words. Positive actions aren’t just things like saving the rain forest or giving someone a kidney, they are doing the little things that make your life and the life of those around you a little bit better.
I have battled depression and anxiety, it’s better these days but it never really goes 100%. Some days I do not feel great- my words (my self talk if you like) can be negative. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, perhaps on those days if I were kinder to myself it would help. But on those days you know what I still always do? I show up. Teach my classes, go to work, complete work I’ve agreed to do, do those bits of life admin I have to do. Keeping going regardless of how I feel because I know just not doing things won’t help me feel brighter. On those day my words might be negative but my actions are not, and I can guarantee you that combination helps me get back on track better that telling myself to be positive about things would.
Next time you look at Instagram and see someone post something inspirational and feel shit that you don’t feel that amazing and think badly of yourself, remind yourself of the good things you are doing right now for you and those you care about, that’s you being positive in a way a smiley photo with a great caption can’t compete with.