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Forums / Staying well / Is positivity always helpful.?

Topic: Is positivity always helpful.?

  1. white knight
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    12 January 2022 in reply to CMF

    Hi CMF

    I know how you feel but I tend to see your partners approach differently.

    See, I have arthritis in both knees plus deep vein thrombosis in both legs. When people ask how my legs are lately I often say "not too bad". It's not a lie because I'm always grateful I can walk. I could lose a lower leg as the veins/nerves are badly damaged.

    When friends/neighbours ask "nice day how are you"? They aren't usually asking how you are, it's a pleasantry to acknowledge one's presence.

    TonyWK

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  2. CMF
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    12 January 2022 in reply to white knight

    Hi Tony,

    I'm sorry to hear of these ailments & hope you are doing OK. Thanks for your thoughts. I do understand what you mean. if I'm asked how I am by someone I always say 'good thanks' or ' not bad ' as I'm not going to bore someone with all the details when they are being polite, but I guess in this instance he's my partner, we both have same thing & I feel he should be honest cos when we speak I get a different story. I guess I feel he uses positivity to brush real feelings under the carpet. Before his dad passed away he was a annoyed he wouldn't get out of bed & said he should get up & be more positive. I had to explain he couldn't get up, that he didn't know the pain he must be in. Being positive was not going to change anything. I guess I find too much positivity a way to hide real feelings 🙂

    Cmf x

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  3. white knight
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    12 January 2022 in reply to CMF

    Thanks for the clarification

    Yes these actions of false positivity or hiding pain or denials not only is try to fool loved ones, it's obvious to a close partner they're not being factual (dishonest isn't a fair word to use).

    Does this characteristic put strain on your relationship? Eg how tolerable is it as I'm wondering if it's a "thorn in your side" or something more serious.

    Feel free not to chat about it.

    TonyWK

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  4. CMF
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    13 January 2022 in reply to white knight

    Hi Tony

    Yes, dishonest is too harsh a word. I can be harsh.

    It doesn't really put a strain on us, it's more frustrating when I find out about it.

    I like to use positivity other ways ie if I'm late to work cos of traffic I accept it'sout of my control & am thankful my boss is understanding. If we go into lockdown I don't like it but I'm grateful I can work from home.

    Always love your thoughts Tony

    Cmf x

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  5. quirkywords
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    13 January 2022 in reply to CMF

    Sleepy thanks for your idea about balance.

    Tony always learn from your comments

    CMF sorry you and your partner have covid. I agree with you about positivity. I think you are realistic.

    A month after the fires people wanted me to be grateful for being
    alive and I was but I felt I was not allowed to say I felt sad and lost.

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  6. CMF
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    13 January 2022 in reply to quirkywords

    Dear Quirky ,

    Yes, this is the problem. Expecting people to be positive all the time does not allow one to deal with their feelings. I believe people who have never suffered as we have are the ones who push us as they don't know how to empathise.

    Cmf x

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  7. white knight
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    13 January 2022 in reply to quirkywords

    CMF, " I can be harsh." I didnt realise you had used that word "dishonest" actually I was about to type it myself and thought it was not the right word :) . so that wasnt directed at you.

    Quirky

    I suppose we could be "appropriately and proportionately motivated" rather than "constantly thinking positve".

    One of my 90 or so jobs was insurance salesman. It was hard to sell something people would rarely get financial benefit from (until death then recipients benefit). My boss told me I wasnt being positive enough. After much thought I resigned. I told him "Now I'm being positive, leaving the profession to focus on a more productive field".

    So positivity indeed should be appropriate and proportionate and you cannot be ultra positive unless the topic/subject is suitable. In short- realistic.

    Post the fires... people dont know what to say. Last year I had a school friend two days from his passing (cancer). He was losing his 5 year fight. I was on the phone to him (he was interstate), and I didnt know what to say. In the end I said "there really isnt much to say" He agreed. So, before hanging up I congratulated him on his fatherhood of twin IVF sons.

    It's hard to know and I'm not normally short for words.

    TonyWK

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  8. Blue's Clues
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    24 January 2022 in reply to white knight

    Hi Quirky and everyone,

    This is a great thread, one that I think explores a really important topic. Many of you have been through horrendous things and had others invalidate how you feel about them. Positivity has its place, but it absolutely can be toxic when not used with consideration and reality in mind.

    One of you mentioned studies about potential negative effects of positivity. The one I read was re complimenting people who have a negative self image. That's a tricky one and something that's come up with my partner - words that so starkly contrast with one's internal consistency often produce the exact opposite reaction. The sense of insincerity/dishonesty meets with a reaction of dismissal and anger from that person. When I was studying editing, there was a technique for telling a writer what needs to change - the "crap sandwich" of couching a negative between two positives. I think perhaps the inverse is true for giving positive information to someone with a negative self image or world view. Acknowledge their feelings, acknowledge the negative situation, throw in a small positive they can believe and work with, and build on that slowly as they climb out of their dark space.

    I say the above because I am not a positive thinker. I believe in positive action. That is, I do the things I know are good for me or may bring me out of a difficult place in spite of feeling vile and not actually believing it will do any good. I do these things from a place of having thoroughly examined the negative. I anticipate likely negatives (in my case financial disasters, which happen with frightful regularity despite my efforts to avoid them) and plan for them. With blindly positive thinking, none of that would happen, and I would be in all sorts of trouble now, as I have more than once had to use those contingency plans.

    My sister often tells me of her struggles then immediately invalidates herself by saying "But X has it worse". I always tell her "I'm sure they do, but this is your experience, you are struggling with it and that is still valid". She always needs reminding of that. This cult of positivity fostered in our society robs people of validation, which is the first step toward healing - acknowledge, validate, examine and work on whatever problem. I have found with that formula that positivity organically winds its way into the process of healing. It doesn't have to be forced and reality should not be ignored.

    Apologies if I waffled a bit. Great thread.

    Blue.

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  9. white knight
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    24 January 2022 in reply to Blue's Clues

    Hi BC, great post

    It reminded me of my neighbour, a self professed kind man without any knowledge of mental illness whatsoever. One day I was soooo down and he caught me, head down. Asked if all was ok "no mate". Silence. Then has hand went onto my shoulder and remained there for about 5 minutes, not a word spoken. It was so powerful, such healing.

    I also wouldnt call that man positive, in fact most negative.

    There is many valid reasons for humans to become negative. In fact its much easier than being positive hence why we lean that way naturally.

    I also think that those poor souls that are negative and low confidence, if subjected to motivated people give up immediately as the motivated attitudes are to them unachievable.

    Perhaps motivation needs to be introduced in easily achieved segments and be enjoyable.?

    TonyWK

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  10. Guest_1643
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    24 January 2022 in reply to Blue's Clues

    Hi blues, I relate to Ur sister and also find myself feeling like I have to say something positive after any admission of struggle

    Ie I had a bad day but hopefully tomorrow will be better! Like I can't sit in the grief. Tbh it probably just makes it harder for me.

    Learning to safely grieve is something that many of us with not so nice family histories might relate to...

    I've noticed being measured is safe, but being very 3motional or even grateful to someone, scares me.

    If I'm grateful, it means someone has helped me, which means I had something I couldn't solve myself and I needed another person.

    From a very young age I learnt to problem solve for myself

    Being positive might be a way of someone not showing vulnerability and convincing themselves or others they are "fine"

    Agree with blues, it's a great thread. 👍

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  11. Blue's Clues
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    25 January 2022 in reply to Guest_1643

    Hi all,

    Tony, it's amazing how much can be conveyed without a word spoken. Far better than any empty platitudes, I'm sure you would agree.

    I agree it is easier to be negative than positive. We see and experience so much hardship and suffering, it can overwhelm our ability to process the concept of anything good. Doubly so for those of us who have had people feeding us negative messages our whole lives.

    As for people with negative world views or low confidence responding to motivated people, I think it's more complex than feeling that the motivated attitude is unachievable. It seems also unrealistic, shallow, forced and often downright fake. There is a resistance to that perception of dishonesty. You are right though, in my opinion, that motivation is a thing that works best introduced gradually, in an achievable way. I'm dogged in my approach to achieving big goals, I pull them apart, work out my first step, do it, then move on to the next. Too much of a big picture hampers progress and causes overwhelm, it's just one foot in front of the other. It's what my pessimistic nature can handle.

    Sleepy, your words hit home for me, about having to problem solve for yourself from a very young age. I too have had to be very self-sufficient, and asking for help or admitting to vulnerability are crazy hard for me. Sitting with grief, also hard. I don't always try and throw up a positive at the end of speaking about a bad time, my reflex is to be planning immediately to fix it.

    Allowing that tomorrow could be better is fine. But so is accepting that sometimes today just sucks. My psych and I have been talking about the value of simply feeling the negatives, experiencing them - hurt, sadness, etc. - is vital in healing. Hence why I've come so far in some ways, fixing my problems in that bull headed way of mine, but internally there is still a lot of conflict. I don't sit well with that stuff, I feel compelled to make the vulnerability go away. Some people do that by projecting false or toxic positivity instead of acknowledging the problem. This seems like a good space for us to just breathe, acknowledge that whether or not they could be worse, we do have our struggles and how we feel about them is valid. We are allowed to grieve or hurt and sit with those feelings before we can genuinely see the rainbows and lollipops or whatever.

    Blue.

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  12. Guest_1643
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    25 January 2022

    Hi Blues...amazing words, I really felt that.

    Lollipops is the world I grew up in.

    I guess this really gets to the main question asked by the op, that yes positivity can be unhelpful.

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  13. CMF
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    28 January 2022 in reply to Guest_1643

    Positivity is not always helpful. It invalidates feelings we are allowed to have.

    Cmf x

  14. Guest_1643
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    I agree cmf.

    I think there are a few myths in society that are very toxic.

    I think also the idea that we can change situations or ppl...

    Is connected to this.

    Something are bad, unsafe, unhelpful and so are some ppl in our lives. They don't help us. They make us feel worse.

    I think for women sometimes it's even harder, we are socialised that being angry or upset is the worst thing in the world.

    And so we become muted. Having a safe space to feel ,y feelings has been good. Thanks all for being so open in this thread, 🙏 🙌 ❤

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  15. quirkywords
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    29 January 2022 in reply to Guest_1643

    Hello Tony, CMF, blue’s clues, Sleepy and all those reading.

    Thanks for all your thoughtful posts.
    I was taught from a young age there are always people worse off and I need to be grateful. Of course that is true but as blue’s clues says we instantly invalidate ourselves or others do it by saying be grateful.

    i know there are so many people suffering in the world but I was not allowed to even grieve what I lost in the fires for even a day. Be grateful, be thankful , look at what you have.

    I agree with sleepy we are muted when we do t allow people to express their emotions.

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  16. white knight
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    29 January 2022 in reply to quirkywords

    Hi Quirky

    I truly believe that the people saying to you one day after the fires "be grateful...." had their heart in the right place. There is situations that people end up in that doesnt matter what they say it wont cushion you enough.

    Therefore it is your ability to take it either way. Unfortunately many of us here will take it negatively because 1/ you've just lost property and been traumatised 2/ that no amount of love and care will "fix" what just happened 3/ That none of them at that time were professional psychologists or similar that had the best avenue of support you needed.

    To suggest to someone that is traumatised "be grateful you are healthy/alive/have each other" etc is to say "I will try to make you feel ok after what you've gone through." in other words- "forget about material things that can be replaced- you survived". This form of comment is to try to comfort, it would have had no ill intent regardless of how it was received by your good self.

    One of the biggest errors the general public make post traumatic events is to undervalue the power of a hand on the shoulder or a cuppa and a hold of the hand...or just being there and listening. Words can be taken wrongly.

    TonyWK

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  17. Blue's Clues
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    29 January 2022 in reply to white knight

    Hi all,

    Sleepy, glad I had something to say that resonated with you. I agree with you that women are particularly taught to just smile and pretend everything is fine. It's an unhealthy societal norm. Real Stepford Wives stuff.

    Quirky, cheers for the acknowledgement. There is definitely a time for being grateful, but there is also a time for grief or sadness or hurt. Ignoring those negative emotions gives them so much more power and does so much damage in the long run. There's also something I read about trauma, that the maladaptive coping mechanisms typically come about when a person doesn't have emotional support at the time of a traumatic event. I.e. if they are not acknowledged, validated, heard. That little passage I read about trauma taught me so much about my own, and why things I hadn't regarded as trauma (neglect from family and later in relationships, & infidelity) presented in me as PTSD symptoms. There was no acknowledgement, no validation, no-one listening - heck, without already knowing it as trauma to give me the right search terms, not even any sort of indication through research that it was - everything was glossed over. It's not so bad, it could be worse, blah blah. That rubbish is the making of one unholy mess of a person. I certainly understand why being told to be grateful from the minute you came away from those fires has hurt you. Perhaps, as Tony says, not by intent, but the result is the result. There needs to be at least one voice to say "It's okay to grieve", or to listen and hold space with you, so we don't just turn inward and wonder if our pain is even justified.

    Blue.

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  18. quirkywords
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    29 January 2022 in reply to Blue's Clues

    It’s not so bad it could be worse , blue’s clues. I have heard those words. I cried a bit but never truly encouraged to grieve . You are right just one person needs to understand the need to express deep emotions.

    A question when is positivity useful. I hang on to realistic hope and that helps. That means I acknowledge my pain but also I have hope for the future. Not all the time but for me nope is not the same as always being positive.

  19. On The Road
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    29 January 2022
    I just don't get that much of the "positive vibe", I don't think the whole world is either positive or negative, there are loads of "neutral moments" Sometimes I see graffiti on the wall, billboards or posters. There are lots of bright colours, people's smiling faces, inspirational quotes etc. To be honest, they don't always give me a mood boost or have an influence on my thoughts and behaviours. Seeing these on a bad day I was more like "ok you do you, I am not gonna buy your products and being preached by your annoying positivity" 😂
  20. white knight
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    29 January 2022 in reply to On The Road

    Hi on the road

    Marketing, false motivation (unrealistic goals) and so on tarnish what can be a life changing mindset.

    I believe positivity it's greatest achievement is to extract your very very best abilities. As soon as you deviate into unreachable goals you lose that key ingredient to achieve, fail at the goal and make yourself feel worse.

    Furthermore, to be so ultra positive that you punish yourself when failing is also not reasonable. It's all a fine line.

    In 1982 at 26yo I had an amazing transformation. You can read it here , google-

    Beyondblue topic 30 minutes can change your life

  21. Guest_1643
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    29 January 2022

    Hi Blues, Ur welcome 💙

    Thanks for sharing that idea, I've heard that too about trauma and found it interesting.

    quirky I had a car accident and 5 minutes after my aunt told me, "don't let it break u, move on."

    I felt like she wasn't allowing me even 5 min to be in shock and sad,

    I felt really upset about that,

    I have read about Rob Gordon's work with bushfire and feel the trauma has been pushed aside, and I sorry u were not given space.

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  22. On The Road
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    29 January 2022 in reply to white knight

    Hi Tony

    Thanks for the reply. One thing those false motivations don't do much to me is they condition people in the same type of "motivational" representatives, which is not very motivational 😂 everyone is different, from your post the guy Bill seemed to be motivated by his wife's laugh. he took it well and start his own way to deal with rejection, while a lot of people couldn't. Sometimes Reverse psychology can be very effective to motivate ppl, but it's suggested to avoid using it in serious situations (when the person is vulnerable). So for me, I don't know, I may not take it well if I was in sickbed and my loved one ridicule me for my failure. What do you think?

  23. On The Road
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    29 January 2022 in reply to On The Road

    Sorry Tony, the "false motivation" I said refers to those marketing strategies, not the one lecture you mentioned in your post.

  24. white knight
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    30 January 2022 in reply to On The Road

    Good point, I recall the lecture- ever word and it was nearly 40 years ago.

    Bill's response was for multiple reasons- firstly he thought he wouldnt survive the heart attack so he had another chance at life and secondly his private life wasnt all that inspiring. For those reasons he did use his wife's laughter as the trigger to devote the rest of his life to being successful and be able to one day tell her those words "and never laugh at me like that again".

    Ironically, being an insurance salesman at that time new in the game you'd think such a transformation from negative to positive would download to becoming a successful salesman, not at all, in fact as mentioned in other posts I've made, being realistic is also essential as part of the process of remaining positive.

    So, I left the profession to enter investigations, the profession of my dreams and became very good at it. So I used his teachings of motivations as a lesson but incorporated it into a package that included - ideal profession, capabilities and so on.

    To be positive involves more than a change from negative thinking to positive thinking, there is more facets to it that make the result more achieving.

    I can be as positive as I am but at 130kg I'm never going to be good at ballet...

    TonyWK

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  25. CMF
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    30 January 2022 in reply to white knight

    'I can be as positive as I am but at 130kg I'm never going to be good at ballet...'

    Excellent point Tony. No amount of positivity can change a fact.

    Cmf x


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  26. Guest_1643
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    31 January 2022 in reply to CMF

    We do have to be realistic, but how does this sit with having dreams?

    I'm thinking of the movie precious, where she used to fantasise about being adored and worshipped while she was in an abusive, seemingly unescapabable situation.

    The more I read about inequality and privilege the more I realise the system is fairly rigged.

    Eg years ago someone might have said, I'm a woman so I can't be a writer, doctor etc.

    Today we tell kids to dream, and rhen it's crushing when at one point u realise u may not be able to achieve dreams u hoped for.

    Being positive vs being hopeful for the future?

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  27. quirkywords
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    31 January 2022 in reply to Guest_1643

    Sleepy

    I think realistic hope is something that is helpful. It would unrealistic for me to hope I would excel at anything sporty.
    i think. Ring positive about pain and trauma is not helpful.

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  28. Guest_1643
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    31 January 2022
    Well said quirky, Ur very wise
  29. white knight
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    31 January 2022 in reply to quirkywords

    Quirky

    Your last comment is z fine example of less words greater impact.

    Well said lovely lady. I'm so richer knowing you.

    TonyWK

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  30. quirkywords
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    31 January 2022 in reply to white knight
    Thanks Tony and Sleepy.
    I too learn so much from both of you and all the posts on the forum. We are so lucky to have such a forum to listen and learn from and to be heard.
    2 people found this helpful

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