I used to like the Law of Attraction. It was all very nice and tidy. Like attracts like; positive attitudes equal positive output; believing in goodness means goodness will follow.
I believe something a little bit different now.
In fact, inspirational, “just think positively” memes make me a little stabby. No doubt well-intended, they’re patronizing and cheap words that sprinkle salt onto very real wounds. They also deny a whole range of valid human emotions and experiences, the very existence of which helps make us who we are.
Some days just suck. That’s a fact. Some weeks suck. Hell, some years suck. Sometimes we’re mad, or sad, or irritated. Sometimes we’re upset and discouraged. Sometimes we’re straight up pissed off and hate the world and everything in it.
Some days are stupid, and it’s okay.
Denying the bad days with a bandaid of positivity is dismissive, minimizing, and ignoring of the fact that we were created with a wide range of emotions and experiences and that they’re okay too. It’s okay to feel things!
What’s not okay is trying to placate someone with trite words of bullshit and sunshine instead of doing the actual work of being a friend. Being a friend is sometimes messy. Sometimes it means plopping down in the muck and the mire, and holding a hand that’s steeped in hard times. Sometimes it means hearing the complaints, wiping the tears, and not making a damn move to try and “fix” it. Sometimes it means knowing that your role is simply to meet them where they are, with no goal and no agenda other than to BE THERE.
Being positive is lovely.
Being positive all the time is unrealistic, unhealthy, and unhelpful. People are allowed to feel things. People need to feel things. Denying our feelings, or anyone else’s feelings, in the name of being positive does no one any favors. Being kind and reassuring is one thing. Telling someone to just think positively (ie: just try harder) is condescending and hurtful. It essentially erases their very real, very valid feelings of pain or frustration, and makes a situation which very well may be out of their control suddenly their fault. (IF ONLY THEY’D TRY HARDER)
I’m not talking about people who are always negative either. That’s a different matter, and a different blog post altogether. I’m talking about the whole human experience. I’m talking about most of us. Those of us who are alternatively happy and sad and excited and discouraged. Those who are positive on the good days, and hold on tight through the bad days. We need each other. We need hands to hold and shoulders to cry on and space to sit in. We need the freedom to BE, and to feel, and to express ourselves however we need in the moment.
What we do not need is a trite, insincere, Hallmark-card, hearts-and-flowers package of canned positivity telling us not to feel what we’re feeling.