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Forums / Staying well / Is positivity always helpful.?

Topic: Is positivity always helpful.?

  1. quirkywords
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    4 November 2021

    In the last decade there has bee a big emphasis on being positive all the time.

    I have had a problem with this and now I am reading articles that agree with me that in some instances being over positive can not be appropriate or even helpful.

    How can positivity be extreme you may ask? Positivity has a time and place, and if ill timed or relied on in an inappropriate situation, positivity has the potential to be dangerous.

    However it can be harmful to relationships, particularly when a person is struggling and their partner pushes them to “look on the bright side” without listening to what they are feeling.

    What do you think?
    So are ok when someone tells you to look at what you have and not to complain?

    Or do you find when you are telling people how you are feeling that they don’t listen and tell you to be grateful, that you get annoyed.

    Let me know what you think.

    Is there a time and place for positivity?

    2 people found this helpful
  2. Guest_1643
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    4 November 2021 in reply to quirkywords

    Hello quirky! Great question

    I think posivity sometimes is damaging...my parent was unable to sit in any role as comforter or supporter, so would insult me for example, for complaining that I had to walk 2 hours to school.....

    A healthy cry and vent is more helpful than pretending

    I think it's also damaging if we shut down others as being negative

    Being negative is ine at times, and being positive is fine at time. It's unrealistic to expect ppl to be in a good mood all the time. Anxiety,worry and pain are a part of life.

    I'm very into ACT therapy, which h says we can allow the bad feelings, but still act in the way that helps us move towards our values.

    someone might get a rush of anxiety and sadness whe doing something very valuable to their life, eg buying a house or submitting a job application.

    the idea of ACT is that these feelings are going to be there, but don't need to stop us from doing things that make us feel good. I'm working on it, sometimes you feel very very anxious about something and fearful, but that doesn't mean I can't still succeed.

    I think the be happy don't worry concept is actually harmful.

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  3. Hanna3
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    4 November 2021 in reply to quirkywords

    Hi quirky

    It's definitely not always helpful!

    I have a friend who uses toxic positivity all the time and it's frustrating. If I mention I'm having vision problems - I have problems with my eyes - she says "well the sun is still shining" which is useless! It negates my legitimate problem and protects her from having to think about it.

    Sometimes we need people to accept that something is bad and sit with us a while with it.

    After my friend did this so often I googled toxic positivity and yep! There it was, just what she does.

    It can be a way of stopping you from expressing your grief or fear or worries, instead of allowing those things to be expressed and then dealt with.

    I don't know if this helps?

    🌹🌼💮

  4. quirkywords
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    4 November 2021 in reply to Guest_1643

    Sleepy and Hanna ,

    Thanks for your comments.
    I am going out now but will reply later.

    Sleepy I agree that do t sorry be happy can be unhelpful.

    Hanna When someone stops us expressing pain or grief I agree they are stifling our emotions.

  5. mmMekitty
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    4 November 2021 in reply to quirkywords

    Hello everyone,

    What a great topic, Quirkywords.😸
    People talking up everything, trying to tell me I can do anything , yes, like Hannah's friend, telling me how wonderful everything is, as if I can ignore whatever else is going on....even the 'poster people' for such other organisations we all are familiar with, all happy smiley as if nothing in the world could possibly be a challenge they or ANYONE cannot meet & surpass, really get me annoyed, because they insult those who don't become Paralympic champions, or achieve beyond anyone's most aspirational dreams, having indicated that ANYONE can, implies failure if you don't.
    Also, I dislike how some talk up ordinary tasks being achieved as if you'd run a marathon.
    Hanna what your friend said about how the sun is still shining, made me laugh. The sun is all too bright for me, due to my own vision loss,, it's like a bleeping super nova for me! You could say, "looking at the sun will damage your eyes", as to some extent, it is in part, why I have also got some retinal damage, from my 'playing with the sun, & my nystagmus, making streaky blob afterimages - so it's true, a shining sun is not necessarily your friend!
    I know I don't do 'be positive’ very well. For me it is unrealistic. I don't even believe the Dalai Lama is as happy as when I'd seen him always laughing - not unless I think, he knows it's all crap, the way people keep imagining he knows something everyone else doesn't know.
    I think extreme positivity does deny reality, & can be one way some people who are unable to face harsh truths, or don't know how to deal with difficult things shield themselves from them. That's fine so long as there is no actual problem which needs to be addressed & dealt with.
    A certain amount of positivity along with optimism can help to motivate, & keep the motivation alive while struggling. But if you are so positive you are sitting on your behind doing nothing proactive, then it's a problem. Or, being extremely positive can get you taking the most unrealistic & possibly dangerous risks.
    However, if more like me, you tend towards negativity & pessimism (& cynicism), that can stop you in your tracks, possibly more easily, because any setback during a struggle feels more like failure, & you get down on yourself more. Instead of getting back up & trying again, you tend to want to quit.
    The best I manage is: "It could be worse". Whatever it is, it could be worse.😼Even at my worst, I knew, it could be worse.
    mmMekitty

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  6. quirkywords
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    4 November 2021 in reply to quirkywords

    Hanna Sleepy and Kitty ,after my house snd shop were destroyed in the fires people said to me a week later , you are so lucky to be alive and you should be grateful you lost tn8ngs..

    sureI was alive and grateful but just to have someone acknowledge the loss I felt would be better than being told move on and be happy.

    I see myself as a realist not negative. I don’t want to be dismissed when I tell people how I feel.
    when people say smile it could be worse how do they know. .?

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  7. Guest_1643
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    4 November 2021 in reply to quirkywords

    Hi quirky, it shouldn't surprise me but yet I am surprised and upset to hear u faced that.

    I'm not sure as I'm no mh expert but I imagine having space to cry and grieve helps us move through trauma.

    The body keeps the score...so telling ourselves to be positive in the face of hardship won't really he,p the trauma process...

    I was once told to pull my socks up by a friend after I missed her birthday party. It was a huge party of hundreds of ppl and my emotional state wastn up to it.

    I doubt thay comment made me, or anyo e, feel anything but awful.

    Ppl spend their whole lives trying to appear OK when their heart is breaking...tbh I've cut ppl like that from my life. I Cann share my own struggles if someone is massively hiding and concealing their feelings, the pressure is really felt by me, and I don't believe I can live that way and smile through my trauma.

    Of course sometimes we need to put on a happy face, but if someone is a close friend, I'd hope they will be safe for me to share vulnerabilities with.

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  8. mmMekitty
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    4 November 2021 in reply to quirkywords
    Hi Quirkywords, & all,
    We had people similarly trying to cheer us up when we lost everything, house, my father's business, & one of our cats, just four years after arriving in Australia, in 1974 flood. Everyone was supposed to be bright & cheery, get back to 'normal', beginning again from scratch, & how fortunate it was that we had each other. I know most people didn't know how dysfunctional our family was, but that seems beside the point, which was, that the flood was to be treated as a minor inconvenience.
    When getting into the car, to evacuate, I was told to hold onto our 2 cats, & one wriggled out from my arms & ran away. I can only recall accusations & blame for her getting away & being lost. No one tried to console or give me any reassurance. She was gone & it was my fault, because I didn’t hold on tight enough, couldn’t manage both struggling cats.
    The next day, my (ex)step-mother clinging to me saying, "it'll be alright," in a most unconvincing way, & I felt she wasn't even trying to convince me; she was trying to convince herself & somehow derive comfort or consolation from me, who she really didn’t give a crap about. I didn't know what to do.
    I wasn't much aware of everything that happened. I do recall how practical help arrived - clothing, foo, & isn't it great, for a few weeks. Then everyone seemed to move on, leaving those people still trying to deal with their losses, many on our street alone. No one even thought of counselling for families, then. I'm not even sure my father had any, & (with hindsight), I think he went into depression for some months, at least. If it went on longer, he hid it.
    It seemed ‘they’ couldn’t wait for school to begin, for people to decide whether to stay & rebuild or to leave, to get back to work, everything. If we, kids especially, had problems stemming from the flood & everything that was lost to it, no one seemed to be looking out for anything like that.
    But yes, it could have been worse; I can imagine many ways. If I smile when I say “it could have been worse”, it’s not with a happy smile, I can guarantee that. If anything, it is a slight consolation to keep me going, especially when I feel I’m getting down too low. I might sound as if I am minimising what happened, or feelings, okay. In my mind, I am having a dig at myself. As I said, I don’t do positive very well, so I have to come at things from a different angle.
    mmMekitty
  9. Hanna3
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    5 November 2021 in reply to quirkywords

    Hi quirky,

    You're quite right - you'd suffered a massive loss and you needed to have that loss acknowledged.

    I think people honestly just don't have a clue what to say. They're uncomfortable and they say something trite because it's easier.

    You end up frustrated because you need others to acknowledge your grief. When they acknowledge your loss it gives you permission to sit with it for a while so that then you can begin to move on.

    I honestly think there is a real place for emotional intelligence training but who or where should do it it I don't know!

    Mekitty sounds as if she's been through some terrible stuff too.

    I think my friend uses it as an avoidance tactic - her partner is an abusive man but she keeps saying brightly "at least I'm in a relationship!"

    I always think, but what sort of relationship is it? It's abusive. Do you put up with that for the sake of being able to say you're in a relationship?

    Again, it's her way of denying the reality.

    Your friends misguidently tried to cheer you up instead of acknowledging your loss.

    So sorry you had this happen.

    May I ask how things are now? What are you at, this long after the fires? This will be the second summer after that terrible time. It must bring it all back to you.

    Big hug! 💗

  10. Elizabeth CP
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    5 November 2021 in reply to Hanna3
    I agree with all the comments from each person on this thread. I apologise for not going through each individually but I'm not up to it at the moment. When we were burnt out in 1965 there was no counselling.. I remember hearing someone tell my mum to send me back to school so she could have a break and I could forget what happened. The clear message I got was don't ever speak about what happened and just deal with it on your own. Decades later I went to a GP to ask for time off work after the Black Saturday fires had made my stress levels flare up badly. We weren't directly impacted but clise enough to have sparks landing on our place. I felt guilty and stupid going to the GP as I thought I should be able to manage and I wasn't affected like others. He then shared how he felt as he had lived in an area affected by severe fires in the past. Having someone tell me that my reaction was normal in the circumstances and hearing how he felt was really helpful. I was no longer just an idiot who couldnt control their emotions
  11. quirkywords
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    5 November 2021 in reply to mmMekitty

    MmMekitty, and everyone reading

    what a dreadful traumatic experience yiu went through when you were so young. That early experience would affect you for life.
    on reading your story I want to give your younger self a big hug reassurance console and acknowledge the pain that child suffered.
    I too don’t do positive that well.
    I was an adult but I know people who were children when they experienced a natural disaster and the life time effects it caused.

    I am not sure when the positive movement started but I remember a few years ago a friend said not only did she now have to cope with cancer she had to be positive about it, so there was extra pressure.

    Thanks again for sharing your story as I realise it would have been difficult.

  12. quirkywords
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    5 November 2021 in reply to Hanna3

    Hanna and everyone reading

    I think your friend has been caught up in this one must be positive at all times.
    we have been told every cloud as a silver lining but dies every storm had one.
    About me, I think that since covid came so quickly after the fires everyone concentrated on the effects of that and I so e way the fires were forgotten . I have found writing here I. The forums helped. I do feel the loss of my bookshop a lot as it gave me a routine and purpose and won’t have that again. I have my ups and downs. We had to move away so I lost my community as well. It has been hard meeting new people in a new area under covid.
    I know people still living in caravans etc so I am privileged to live in a house and have support from family and friends .

  13. quirkywords
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    5 November 2021 in reply to Elizabeth CP

    Elizabeth

    I remember when you told me your story at the the time of black summer fires it really helped me in getting perspective and learning from your experience.
    You are right having your feelings being acknowledged and realise you may have those feelings for a life time.
    some people could not understand why I did not want to watch The Fires tv show saying but that was years ago. Even the trailers for the show upset me .

    thanks for your post and I am thinking of you .

  14. white knight
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    5 November 2021 in reply to quirkywords

    Hi all,

    Great topic Quirky

    I was first introduced to positive thinking at 26yo (thread: 30 minutes can change your life). That 30 minute lecture made me realise I was and my family were- negative thinkers and I'd never succeed much in life had I continued that way. For a time I believed that my new found motivation was my answer to all things negative, that any challenge I had would be easily overcome with determination- not so.

    What excess positivity did was mask some realities. By glossing over elements in life that had specific needs to be overcome I was robbing myself .Without treatment that included meds, therapy and life changes I would be relying purely on motivation. Some examples-

    • I had anxiety at the time and was unaware the severity of the illness. It peaked 4 years later and I sort meds, therapy and support. There is no way imo that motivation could have replaced such treatments. Sure, it is a very good almost essential element needed for recovery though.
    • At one time I was a insurance salesman. Colleagues would constantly tell me that motivation will guarantee my success. Well, not really, motivation alone isnt enough, gaining knowledge about your product, knowing where to focus your efforts etc is important eg not much point knocking on doors in a poor area whereby residents dont have sufficient income to feed themselves let alone buy insurance.
    • Overcoming traumatic experiences. Covered well by Quirky in the example above. Positive thinking cannot erase memories.
    • Depression. While in the depressive cycle I found that trying to motivate myself can be a waste of time and plummet myself deeper in despair as such motivation failed. I realised that I must wait, a day or two, for my cycle to pass the half way point (feeling a little better) before it is effective. You're dying of thirst as you arrive at an oasis. You drink water and a person says "get up not, you've had water", but you cant as your body needs to process that water, it takes time.

    Positive thinking- once you embrace it you never can live without it. It is an amazing tool and you immediately identify those that are unfortunate enough not to have found it. But, it is one tool in the toolbox and every tool has a purpose.

    TonyWK

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  15. quirkywords
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    5 November 2021 in reply to white knight

    Tony,

    Thanks for your very thoughtful post.
    You have pointed out there is a time and place for positivity and how excessive postivity can mask sone realities but at the right time it is a useful tool.

    I think when people have no insight into mental health they may say things like why can’t you be happy, look how much you have , think of all those worse off.

    I know on this forum I go to the 3 thibgs I am thankful for today thread most days.

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  16. Mum Chris
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    5 November 2021 in reply to quirkywords

    Hi quirkywords

    People say some dumb stuff and later I bet you thought of a lot of comebacks. No I’d be grateful if my shop and home was still ok.

    I had someone tell me how exciting I wonder what gods got in store for the next chapter of your life. I had a 1&1/2 year old was 4 months pregnant and just got out of hospital and was on bed rest and my then husband had run off with a teenager and left me with no money and a mortgage I couldn’t pay. I nearly spat at her. She left and was left confused about what she was talking about what’s exciting.
    I’m sure you did feel glad it wasn’t worse.
    it’s a good lesson to only say the minimum when people have had loss and struggling. I’m terribly sorry. If there’s anything I can do. My heart goes out to you.

  17. Elizabeth CP
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    5 November 2021 in reply to quirkywords
    I think Tony is right. Using gratitude and looking for positives can really hp keep things into perspective giving you the strength to cope with difficult situations/feelings etc. Using the times when you have even th smallest bit of motivation to do something which will be helpful (this may be something pleasurable. relaxing useful or helping someone else) These things can give you the boost you need to keep going. This is vastly different than pasting a fake smile on or telling someone else to do so. When you are struggling the last thing you need is feeling worse because you don't feel like smiling. You then feel like a complete failure. In the past I would hide how I was feeling because I was scared of being judged. In contrast sometime ago I had to drive past bushland being burnt off. This is extremely triggering for me. I remember my hsb saying just drive until you feel safe. Knowing he finally undertood how hard it was and feeling him allow me to deal with the situation as best as I could was a relief. The last thing I needed was to be told I was safe and to stop worrying. I knew logically that was the case but convincing my brain and body of that was impossible. Once I got well past the situation I stopped and asked my hsb to be qiet while I read to block out what had happened. I needed that time to calm down. Fake positivity would have been really harmful but my hsbs later comment on how well I dealt with a difficult situation really boosted me up helping me feel more confident I could cope even if it was hard. Real positive input is encouraging when used at the right time so it is believable. Conversely fake positivity doesn't allow us to feel undertood and is extremely damaging.
  18. CMF
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    5 November 2021 in reply to quirkywords

    Hi Quirky and all reading,

    I think it is great to be positive but absolutely agree, it's not always appropriate. My partner is ALWAYS positive to the point where I sometimes think he has no feelings. I know this is not true as he can be sensitive but also insensitive and doesnt get it. When he is always positive I feel unheard and my feelings invalid. He has not struggled as I have, doesn't understand. He's always had someone to help with the kids, bail him out financially when he divorced. He does try to understand my anxiety and help me feel better but I often wonder if he just says what he thinks I want/need to hear.

    Sometimes we need people to listen, understand, offer comfort.

    Cmf x

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  19. mmMekitty
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    5 November 2021 in reply to Elizabeth CP

    Hi Elizabeth,CP,

    Good Hubby! That response sounds perfect for you, under the circumstances. I haven't been through fire, but all the images on screen really got to m in late 2019.

    It's true, whenever talk of flood & the possibility of another is mentioned, I feel my anxiety level rising. I instantly recall & I'm afraid of how I would cope now, even though I am located where such flooding would be extremely unlikely. My imagination works overtime.

    So, then, it is the information regarding how unlikely the worst scenario is, which helps me relax & have a more positive outlook heading into the forthcoming rainy days.

    I can't do it by believing everything will simply 'turn out for the best', no matter what.

    That's what some of this fad for blanket positivity seems to be saying, 'have faith', & I don't do that either - not a molecule of faith, like religiosity, in me.

    mmMekitty

  20. quirkywords
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    5 November 2021 in reply to Mum Chris

    Mum chris

    thanks for your reply.
    I think I would have felt like spitting too. As you said you just need someone to say they care and acknowledge your suffering.

  21. quirkywords
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    5 November 2021 in reply to CMF

    CMF wrote

    Sometimes we need people to listen, understand, offer comfort.

    That is so true.

    Elizabeth

    wrote about fake positivity which can be quite damaging.

    mmMekitty,

    I feel about fires like you do with floods. Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

  22. Hanna3
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    5 November 2021 in reply to quirkywords

    Hi quirky

    I knew someone who lost her home in the Black Saturday fires long ago. She moved to another state to get as far away from the memories as possible.

    Several years later she missed her community and moved back. It's hard to make big life decisions after a major trauma. I'm sorry to hear about your book shop, that's a huge loss.

    We were near the fires and they haven't been forgotten here at least.

    It's really interesting to hear your perspective, thanks for that. I'm sure you're still adjusting to it all.

    💗

  23. quirkywords
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    8 November 2021 in reply to Hanna3

    I wonder do people get others urging them to be positive about their mental illness. I know this can help but sometimes when we are struggling just an acknowledgement of our obstacles would help rather than telling us to see the rainbows , or to sent memes with photos of cute puppies. Do you the one that has a tag line the best antidepressant and it is a box of cute puppies.

    Do others agree with me or am I greeting cynical as I age.

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  24. Mum Chris
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    8 November 2021 in reply to quirkywords
    I agree there’s a time and place for positivity. Yes I think there’s too much pressure to say. I’m ok or can only get better from here.
    I have definitely been guilty of sending cute puppies BUT in my defence I’m watching cute dogs and babies on YouTube to try and feel some happiness.
    I was very ill and on terrible drugs and in so much pain and people around me wanted me to say I got this and smile. I’m violently ill each day skin and hair falling off and infections from low immunity and the pain was terrible. I spoke to others that were in same situation and we were whinging about this treatment and that treatment and the b#$#h nurse or receptionist not a positive word anywhere and we would be laughing. There’s nothing like raw honesty amongst likeminded people.
    I think my only true friend is from those days we can talk about anything. I’ve told her my truth and she cried and asked me to please get help.
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  25. Mum Chris
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    8 November 2021 in reply to Mum Chris
    I should add to previous post not sick now this was a few years ago I was referring too.
  26. quirkywords
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    8 November 2021 in reply to Mum Chris

    Mum chris

    I like looking at funny uk panel shows fir a laugh when I feel low.

    I also like cute animals.
    I like your sentence “There’s nothing like raw honesty amongst likeminded people.”. That is so true.”

    thanks for your comment

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  27. Guest_1643
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    8 November 2021

    Hi all

    I think letting out what u feel in an unfiltered way is really healthy

    It helps

    I think sometimes making the best of situations is not because ppl are positive but because they feel they are stuck or can't change. Sometimes u have to make the best of what is but sometimes u have to acknowledge that u are not happy with how things are, to grow and move through pain and grief,

    Life socks sometimes and ppl can be cruel. This is reality

    I don't want ppl to tell me that bad things don't happen, when we clearly live in an unjust, broken world.

    It s OK to be upset at times

  28. quirkywords
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    12 January 2022 in reply to Guest_1643

    Hello everyone,

    sleepy you wrote,

    "I don't want ppl to tell me that bad things don't happen, when we clearly live in an unjust, broken world."

    There was a book whose title was something like

    When bad things happen to good people.

    As you wrote acknowledging thatlife is a struggle and you cant be happy now, will help one deal with grief and loss.

    I find it so sad when people giving a speech at a funeral of a loved one, apologise for crying and sometimes being unable to finish the speech. To me that is what I would expect, why do they feel a pressure to apologise for tears.

    I

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  29. CMF
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    12 January 2022 in reply to quirkywords

    Hi Quirky and all reading,

    I love this topic. Just yesterday I was talking with my teenage daughter & I pointed out no amount of positivity can change a fact ie if a person were gravely ill, being positive will not change this or the prognosis. I struggle with this with my partner cos he doesn't get it, just positive all the time & it's not helpful. We both have Covid currently. Each day we text/ check in with each other. I tell him I feel crap he tells me he's not bad. When we speak on the phone he sounds crap, tells me he's tired, aching joints. So to me,his messages saying he's not too bad are a lie. He thinks it's better to keep it positive but it doesn't change the fact that he feels crap. This 'dishonesty'means I don't see the 'really' him. I'd rather see the real side of the situation, not the bs side. We have Covid - fact. We feel crap- fact. No amount of positivity can change this, so just be honest.

    Cmf x

  30. Guest_1643
    blueVoices member
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Guest_1643 avatar
    4854 posts
    12 January 2022

    Hi all,

    That is sad , quirky, when ppl feel embarrassed of crying and being vulnerable.

    I think some notions of positivity jnvolve denying one's feelings

    Positivity can be quite useless.

    Looking on the bright side isn't always so easy.

    I thi k gratitude is important, my grandmother always told me she chooses to be grateful for what she's given and feel at peace.

    I tend to be a glass half empty person, and see potential issues and problems in everything

    I could work on this, but I don't know that either extreme is so good.

    Maybe balance is key?

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