CAN POSITIVITY BE A NEGATIVE THING?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a negative thinker. Even when I was tiny, I was a catastrophiser, assuming the worst would happen in every single situation I found myself in. My parents used to joke that I came out of the womb with the world on my shoulders, and really, not much has changed besides one thing. Since undergoing cognitive behavioural therapy, I’ve realised how powerful thoughts can be, especially when we believe them. Cognitive behavioural therapy is based on the idea that our thoughts, feelings and actions are connected, and as such, we must learn to override our negative thoughts in order to improve our moods. While it’s not a quick fix, evidence shows that it works, so when I opened up Twitter earlier this month, I was confused to find a number of fellow bloggers decrying ‘too much’ positivity in the blogging community. Now I won’t pretend I know the full extent of the debate that took place, because to be honest, I haven’t got a clue. However, what I did see got me thinking about how positivity could be construed as a negative thing.
CASE OF THE STIFF UPPER LIP?
When I relaunched my site in July, I mentioned how I wanted it to become a place of happiness and wellbeing, despite resistance to ‘positivity preachers’. While I’ve been fortunate enough to have grown up as part of a loving family who have done everything to support me, I’ve had more than my fair share of difficulties during my short life. However, despite facing major surgery on numerous occasions, a case of sepsis that nearly killed me, and a number of mental health problems, I’ve always made the utmost effort to stay positive about the adversities I’ve faced.
I’m not going to avoid talking about them, because I strongly believe that I can help others in similar situations, so that’s exactly what I’ve always tried to do. Similarly, knowing that I could have it a lot worse, I try to avoid feeling sorry for myself. I’ve got a classic case of the British stiff upper lip, and while I don’t think this is always a good thing, I am proud of the resilience I’ve shown. So does that mean that positivity is always a good thing?
NEGATIVITY VS REALISM
Personally, I believe there’s only one instance in which ‘too much’ positivity can be a bad thing, and that’s when it impinges on realism. There are theories which suggest that those suffering with mild to moderate depression actually have a more realistic perception of their abilities and achievements. Disheartening as that may be, it’s important to remember that not every situation has a positive outcome. In fact, some things that happen are terrible through and through, and trying to find a positive in them is downright disrespectful to anybody and everybody affected by them. I’m sure we’ve all experienced the exasperation of somebody telling us to ‘look on the bright side’ when we’re feeling rubbish. To expect to feel happy and positive at all times is unrealistic, and on these occasions, it’s vital to remember that realism does not equal negativity. It’s OK to feel low at times, and it doesn’t make you a negative person.
YOU DO YOU AND I’LL DO ME
With all of that being said, it works both ways. Realism doesn’t equal negativity and negativity doesn’t equal realism. From what I can see, the argument against ‘positivity preachers’ in the blogging community is based on the idea that feeling positive 24/7 is unrealistic. While this is true, I think we all have a right to surround ourselves with what makes us happy. If you like to have the occasional Twitter rant about something that’s bothering you, that’s entirely up to you, and if it makes you feel better, great! However, those who unfollow you in the name of keeping their social media feeds upbeat aren’t shying away from realism. For me and many others, social media can be extremely depressing, and we’re all within our rights to do whatever we need in order to remain happy and healthy. On Twitter especially, I see people judging one another left, right
and centre. Spiteful indirects and sanctimonious ‘public service announcements’ designed to make anybody who doesn’t agree with them feel bad about themselves appear one after the other before my eyes. Add to that the vitriol and hate speech so prevalent on the platform, and for me, Twitter makes for a miserable social media experience. Of course I’m not going to unfollow you for tweeting about a problem you’re having, but I will try to keep my feed as positive as possible, and there’s no way that I’m going to feel bad about that. At the end of the day, the Internet is a big place. There will always be those you disagree with and there will always be those who you dislike, but I will always abide by my mother’s motto: ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.’
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I’ve never wanted to hear your thoughts on this post as much as I do now! I would love to know what you think about this. Do you think too much positivity can be a negative thing?