When positivity becomes negative

This is one of the topics that has long been in my mind but never felt it to be the right moment to come up with. First of all, I did not know myself what the exact detriments of the constant positivity around us were and, consequently, how to avoid, if to avoid at all, them. When I was in my so-called ‘transition’ period (I guess I still am…) I received, like most of us, advice and encouragement from my environment, almost without a break. Mostly, there might have been good intentions in the background, although a still significant amount may have rather been motivated by something else than genuine care. Furthermore, despite of the unquestionably good intentions, some communication simply put me down, even deeper. It was rather overwhelming than helpful, to be honest… Processing tends to be longer than the simple perception.

Fake it until you make it…

You have probably heard this in different contexts, from working environment to private life, in the majority of the cases with the reasoning that it is you who can (and must) change your approach. Very good. Probably this is the last thing you are about to hear in a difficult situation: blame yourself for something that is out of your competence…

Of course, most of the things are relative, even those which we considered as facts in a certain point in time. And yes, you can deal with dissonance if you are more accepting. In general. But it does not mean that you can and must apply it at once and in every case. There is also a general wisdom about finding the right moment under the right circumstances to say the right words to someone. As long as you really care…

Law of attraction has become trendy nowadays, which is nothing else than the translation of the above saying to a more positive form. At least, in my opinion. Faking something equals to manipulation in my mind, which is hardly ever attached to anything positive… Attract something that we long for seems a bit more acceptable, at least on paper. Why do I say that?

Wishing, manifesting, envisioning – instead of acting

Probably this is the most harmful… Anything, I mean, really anything, that keeps you thinking that it is enough to wish, envision, manifest, expect, or however you call it, is detrimental. We are humans, so we can be lazy, we can also be super rational in the economic sense, and we can be very emotional (and thus irrational, in the economic sense), meaning that we have the tendency to find excuses where possible, why not to act… especially when acting may be uncomfortable… We are also biased by our own perceptions, meaning that we tend to overestimate the value of certain things in the short term and underestimate the long term effects, such is the case with risk-perception.

But how does positivity come here? The thing is that it is not that easy to recognize. You may recall people saying that: do not worry, if that has to come to you, comes anyway. If does not, it has not been for you… Does it sound familiar?

Actually, I strongly believe that you have to work for most of the things that makes you happy, regardless of the way. Simply because it is the efforts that you have invested that gives the value of the outcome… Am I right? You have to build a house to have a house, meaning to invest your efforts (either via your own work or via earning the financial resources to hire the respective construction company), you have to approach people to have friends, or invest your efforts (mostly emotional) when you are approached. If you want to have a child, you either have to meet someone to make love with or create a connection with a living one and adopt him or her, not to mention other possibilities. Being positive with everything, think that everything is all right, however it is, is very close to losing control and going with the flow without any limitation or concept. Do you consider it positive? I have serious doubts… If you want to eat omlette, you have to break some eggs…

Feeling inferior or to be an outlier

It is difficult to be different. Even though, most of us would like to stand out of the crowd somehow. Especially in societies where individualism is promoted. In parallel, we all would like to be a part of something, a community, and would like to belong somewhere and/or to someone. There is enough tension generated in ourselves just because we would like to meet both at the same time, which, let us admit, is simply impossible.

With the permanent positivity coming to our face from various sources, tension (or dissonance) is just piling up. For example, if we have a ‘so-so’ day for whatever reason, and open social media full of hurray-optimists, happily posing people, success stories of others and all being shiny and glamorous around them, we might feel depressed. Depressed, as our ‘so-so’ feeling gets a sharp contrast. Being a human, our perception is dominated by the things we see, even though we may be sure that those moments captured on the pictures are really just moments of others’ lives (such as a ‘so-so’ day is a moment of our life, as well)…

Besides the effects of making our position, mood, feelings relative, and – in this case – relatively worse than it may really be, there is another negative impact: the frustration stemming from non-compliance. The aforementioned need to be a part of something, to belong somewhere triggers the drive to assimilate to an extent. Seeing happy, optimistic, successful and glamorous people may give the impression that we must be happy, optimistic, successful and glamorous to be accepted… Consequently, if we feel lost, apathic and much closer to being sad, we may also feel that we would be refused, rejected, and not found interesting at all. We do not deserve to belong there…

Become manipulative and thus risk real rejection

Let us sit to the other side of the table and see it from the perspective of accepting the idea of permanent positivity. You can change your mindset and concentrate on the positive things, in order to comply with the trendy approach, to feel being the part of (at least for the time being). You can start saying nice things to everyone, even to those you have no particular connection with, share your best moments regularly in the social media, take record of your success stories, including your family’s ones and disclose them, and accept the negative things (meaning hide or make them bagatelle) as they are. I guess you may soon have issues with not feeling (in worse cases called) selfish and senseless…

You may experience friends staying away, acquaintances distancing, and being ‘mentally or emotionally delisted’ amongst those who formerly considered you to be nice, trustworthy, admirable, kind, whatsoever. And you may not understand why, since you are such a positive person…

Increasing stress instead of decreasing it

Generally speaking, the negative effect of constant positivity, which I would call fake, is to increase the stress level on the long term. Even if you may experience short term advantages. This is coming from the dissonance between reality and enforced, engineered – or simply call it faked – perception.

No one can always be happy and positive, there is no such a thing that unlimited energy and endless joy. Providing such a picture may induce suspicious approach and result in loss of credibility. And also trust… Long term consequences may be isolation and loneliness, and thus, depression…

Negative feelings have their role

If you ever missed a plane, or a bus, you most probably learnt to leave earlier, and use your time wisely. If you failed on an exam, you got the evidence that more effort and more accurate learning is necessary. If you were rejected after a job interview, you would have been encouraged to improve your communications skills, or think over what type of job to really look for.

Sometimes you have to regret a decision to realize that you made a wrong conclusion. You have to be unhappy with a choice to understand that you did not consider all the relevant circumstances. And you sometimes have to get hurt to feel the consequence of a wrong movement, to avoid it the next time.

In general, negative feedback, negative feelings have an essential role in our learning and improvement procedure. They give the evidence of what to avoid and where to improve. Unfortunately, the permanent and fake positivity more often discards these feelings, drives you to hide them and to skip learning the lessons… You necessarily have to fail in order to improve…

As negative things, positivity has its essential role in this learning procedure, as well. The genuine positivity, not the fake one. Negative feedback may also keep you off doing anything, rejection to stop you from jobsearch and to make you depressed, such as a wrong decision may drive you to blame your environment instead of looking deeper into yourself. Living in a society ruled by social media and influencers, high level of individualism and accepted level of bullying may result in a higher number of people giving up too early and faking a positive image for themselves or getting really depressed if not succeeded, then in one with a healthy proportional approach, and encouraged assimilation and acceptance.

Nevertheless, I think we all can do a lot, ourselves, not to get involved into these questionable trends, and stay reasonable. Accept that negative things are also the part of our life, and use positivity to get the best out of them, using them as a source of improvement or as a contrast to value those things in our life that are really worth appreciating. Instead of pushing all this underneath the carpet.

Credibility, trustworthiness, acceptance and comfort comes from being genuine. Genuinely negative and genuinely positive, where it has its place. A human face is always more reliable than an always happy, supportive and shiny one. Our imperfections, though negative things and their effects on us I would not call imperfection at all, make us human. And the part of being human is that we are able to analyze, think over, consider and reconsider, model, etc, and consequently learn, proceed and improve in a cognitive, conscious way (not only instinctively).

Life mostly depends on perception, and mostly question of proportions to make it full and contented. It is also subject to our choices. We do have a choice in most of the cases. If nothing else, then how to perceive things around ourselves, once we are done with our best efforts… but surely not earlier …

How to distinguish genuine positivity and fake one in your environment? The more you observe, the easier it becomes… but that is for the next post…

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