Toxic Positivity: Embracing the Lows

As I sipped my morning coffee, I scrolled through my Instagram feed and stories.

Procrastinating, I thought about starting a new routine, what I had to do today, and all of the things I’ve put on the back burner.

To be honest, I haven’t felt like doing any of it.

Highs and lows are a normal part of everyday life- from bustling with energy to feeling like staying in bed until noon.  Perhaps it’s the weather or maybe the moon cycle, but I’ve been on the “low” end of the spectrum this past week.  Apparently, I’m not the only one.

Just when I needed it, a friend of mine shared her feelings for the day, frustrated with people who encourage her to “think positive!” and to “stop complaining.”  No matter what the day, she fearlessly expresses her emotions, pretty or not- and that authenticity is something the world needs to see.

Sharing where we are mentally is not complaining.  It’s exercising our humanness.

When we deny our feelings and our unpleasant emotions, we are simply burying them, only to resurface later.  Our emotions, our stories, and our ups and downs aren’t meant to be hidden- they’re meant to be dealt with.

“Good vibes only!” and “be happy!” are cute and all, but what are we supposed to do with the bad vibes?  The depression?  The anger?  The fear?  Are we supposed to cover it up with pastel prints and add some sparkle?  Do we continue to mask the discomfort to please someone else?

Of course not.

Toxic positivity usually isn’t about the person who is going through the emotion- but it does has everything to do with the people who encourage them to “smile!” or to “be grateful!”  Why?  It makes them more comfortable.

We can be grateful and still be sad.

We can have a bad day and be excited for tomorrow.

How we feel at the moment doesn’t determine how we will feel the next.

Perhaps there are people who are naturally sunshine and rainbows, but my guess is most of us aren’t.  I embrace my moods.  I can see light through the dark.  I don’t have to package up my pain into a smile and a facade; because there is something powerful we can do with discomfort.

Although I do believe it’s a waste of time to tell someone to “just be positive,” I don’t think being in a slump is a negative thing.  Our moods help us to determine what is going right and what is going wrong in our lives.  When things change, they make room for something different.  If we no longer are going in a certain direction, we are given a choice to alter our path.

If we can use our problems and turn them into potential, whether it’s a learning opportunity or a new idea, the world may start embracing the negative- because that is when true change happens.

 

2020: Entering The Decade of Self Esteem

Abraham Maslow considered self esteem as one of the higher needs in his hierarchy; but to me, it’s one of the most important.

While basic needs (such as physiological and safety) are at the bottom, love and belonging come before self esteem. Why? Self esteem is crucial to fulfillment.

If you don’t love yourself, accepting love from another person is next to impossible.

Even your basic bottom needs are often unmet when you have low self esteem- so why is it so far up the hierarchy?

This is especially true for those who have suffered from trauma or addiction. I almost titled this post “Rethinking Maslow’s Hierarchy,” but I realized my message is bigger than that. As I reflect on the past decade, the choices I have made, and the lessons I have learned, I realized I would take matters into my own hands. I would make a choice to make this next decade about maintaining self love, both for myself and helping others to improve their own self esteem.

Before you think that job or possession will make you happy, consider how low self esteem is standing in your way of achieving everything you want. Without it, it’s hard to succeed in the workplace, in love, and in life.

The other day I stumbled on a great piece by TheFix.com by Susan Peabody, sharing 12 ways to build self esteem and acceptance. For those who are in recovery, it’s very possible that our self esteem took a hit along the way. We viewed ourselves through the eyes of others and by our mistakes, our pain, and our addiction.

 “When the melancholic dejectedly desires to be rid of life, of himself, is this not because he will not learn earnestly and rigorously to love himself? When a man surrenders himself to despair because the world or some person has left him faithlessly betrayed, what then is his fault except that he does not love himself the right way.” -Soren Kierkegaard, Works of Love.

Society has sent us negative messages about ourselves, from how we need to look to the milestones we need to achieve to reach ultimate happiness. My experience has shown that even the house, the job, and the bank account will never satisfy us if we are not satisfied with who we are as a human being.

I’ve had countless friends and have known endless people who are discontent due to outside forces. Whether they’ve lost a loved one or are simply unhappy with their life, being able to recover from the pain and find joy in everyday life is the first step to improving ones self esteem.

As 2019 ends, reflect on how you currently feel about yourself. Think about what you want to change- because it truly does start from within.

Now is the time to let go to make room to spread your wings and grow.

Ollie Orlando

Meet Oliver!

I brought Ollie home after his long (but loving) seven month stay at the Cherryland Humane Society.

Formerly Orlando, Ollie Orlando is now enjoying his forever home with me.

On his first day, he immediately ran behind my living room couch. After staying there for an hour, I brought him upstairs to my office (temporarily the “safe room”) to ease into townhouse life. He certainly has the life here, but it’s a lot for him to handle all at once.

I’m so grateful to have found Ollie; I needed him as much as he needed me. As much as I love living alone, I have wanted a feline companion of my own for as long as I can remember.

He is a shy but affectionate cat who loves gazing out the window at the trees, getting scratches on his head, and finding hiding spaces to keep him safe.

Don’t worry, little one, I will take good care of you. ❤️