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Mary's Moments Blog Post

The Damage of Always Being Positive

In many cases, positivity is praised above all else and we often find ourselves pushing aside our true feelings. We're encouraged to plaster on a smile, bury our worries, and pretend everything is fine, even when it's not. But what many fail to realize is that this constant pursuit of positivity can actually be harmful, both to ourselves and to those we care about, especially our children.


From a young age, we're taught to associate certain emotions with negativity. Sadness, anger and fear – these are deemed as "bad" emotions, while happiness and excitement are labeled as "good." As a result, we learn to suppress anything that doesn't fit into the category of positivity. We shame ourselves and others for feeling anything other than joy, inadvertently sending the message that these emotions are unwelcome.



But the truth is, all emotions – whether positive or negative – serve a purpose. They are signals from our body and mind, guiding us through life's ups and downs. By constantly pushing aside our natural emotions in favor of false positivity, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to fully understand and embrace our experiences.


Imagine a child who is told to stop crying every time they feel sad or scared. Instead of learning how to cope with these emotions in a healthy way, they internalize the message that their feelings are wrong or shameful. This sets them up for a lifetime of struggling to express themselves and can lead to issues like anxiety, depression, and a lack of emotional intelligence.


As adults, we often find ourselves falling into the same trap. We avoid difficult situations because we don't want to feel disappointed or stressed. We pursue goals that we think will bring us happiness, only to realize that true fulfillment cannot be achieved by ignoring our innermost feelings.


Tough emotions are just a part of life, like how we need to eat and sleep. They're like our contract with the world, reminding us that we're alive and breathing. If we didn't have these feelings, life would be kind of like watching a movie without sound – you can see what's happening, but you're missing out on the whole experience.  


Acknowledging tough emotions helps us to really connect, like feeling the warmth of the sun or the cold on a winter day.  Even though they might be hard to deal with sometimes, tough emotions are actually pretty important for making our lives real and meaningful.


Hundreds of people will tell you what they don't want to feel. "I don't want to try because I don't want to feel disappointed," they'll say. "I just want this feeling to go away." But by avoiding discomfort, we deny ourselves the opportunity to grow and learn.


We need to value all emotions, not just the ones seen as positive. Don’t push them aside or hide them.  Teach children that it's okay to feel sad, angry, or afraid – and that these feelings are not signs of weakness, but of strength.


When we recognize and accept our feelings, it's like we're unlocking a superpower. We become stronger and more able to handle whatever life throws our way. Instead of running away from things that scare us or make us uncomfortable, we face them head-on. It's kinda like learning to ride a bike – at first, it feels scary and wobbly, but the more we practice, the better we get. Facing our fears and overcoming obstacles is how we really start living life to the fullest.


In my interactions with my daughters and my grandson, I don’t always conceal what I consider "negative" feelings and experiences, believing I will be safeguarding them from life's harsh realities. I don’t always try to shield them from sadness or disappointment by presenting a facade of constant positivity. I truly believe that approach will deprive them of valuable life lessons. It establishes an unrealistic standard where everything must appear flawless all the time.


I think it’s important to share struggles and setbacks with them, alongside victories. Not to instill fear or overwhelm them with negativity, but to strike a balance. I want them to understand that feeling sad or scared occasionally is natural even for the important people in their lives, while also recognizing we all have an innate strength to overcome challenges. By fostering honesty and authenticity, I hope to share the importance of all emotions, both positive and negative.


Expressing sad, frustrated, or disappointed feelings is important for our emotional well-being. One way to do this is by talking to someone you trust, like a friend or family member, about how you're feeling. Sharing your emotions can help you feel understood and supported. Some people find it helpful to write about feelings in a journal, go for a walk, deep breathing, or listening to music, which can also help process and release emotions in a healthy way. It’s totally okay to feel sad, frustrated, or disappointed, and finding ways to express these feelings is important.


Poem by Donna Ashworth:


Sadness came to tea last night

as she's often done before

but I didn't let her in this time

I stopped her at the door


"I'm off to meet my friends," I said

"your timing isn't right

I can't allow your atmosphere

It's not the place tonight"


But sadness wouldn't take the hint

her manners lack finesse

her pace was slow and heavy

yet she kept up nonetheless


And even when I took my place

amongst my laughing friends

she squeezed herself right in-between

her boldness never ends


And I was sure my friends would see

this spectre at the feast

and somehow think me lesser

for inviting such a beast


But no, their warmth was undeterred

as if nothing was new

I think perhaps they know by now

I sometimes come as two


And even sadness seemed to glow

a lighter shade of grey

to know that she's accepted

seemed to lighten up her day


So let your sad accompany you

don't think her hard to bear

no need to face her all alone

just pull an extra chair.


Acknowledging and accepting our emotions is like giving ourselves a big hug from the inside. It means being okay with how we feel, whether it's happy, sad, or somewhere in between. Instead of pretending everything is always perfect, we take a moment to really listen to what our heart is saying. It's kinda like being a detective, trying to understand why we feel the way we do. When we accept our emotions, it's like lifting a weight off our shoulders. We don't have to hide or pretend anymore. We can just be ourselves, messy feelings and all. And that's a pretty awesome feeling

 

The next time you feel like hiding your feelings to pretend you're happy all the time, think about this: the only people void of feelings are dead. They don't get stressed, or have their hearts broken, or feel disappointed when things don't go right.

 

Thank goodness - we're alive! Feeling different emotions, whether good or bad, is what makes us human.

 

So here’s to the good, the bad, the ugly and everything in between – loving it all and loving ourselves!

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