I consider myself a positive person. In fact, to some, I come off as that super annoying, overly positive person. You know, the kind that is always spewing rainbows and sunshine, that tells you how great Mondays are. My social media pages are positive, maybe even cliché. I write about the significance of positivity in my blog posts. My boyfriend and I also run a large Facebook group that clearly states; positivity only. The question is: is positivity only always a good thing?
I have spent the past month battling this idea in my head before deciding to put it down on virtual paper. First and foremost, I think it is significant to acknowledge that both positivity and negativity are a state of mind, an attitude, they are not the same as emotions. Our emotions, such as; sadness, anger, excitement, happiness, etc. are separate. They may impact our attitude; nonetheless, they are different. This is a reminder to myself more than anything, and also to those that need to hear this.
I allowed the pendulum to swing too far into the positivity realm. As I searched for the reason why, I kept envisioning three words; empathy, authenticity, and vulnerability. Allowing these three words to lead my actions is and has been both an enlightening and painful journey. In the age of social media, I can share a life that may not truly exist. Perhaps a life of half-truths. Positivity, when used as a cover, only promotes negative emotions. The truth is, the more we lead with empathy, authenticity, and vulnerability, the more positivity we will find.
When I give an overly positive response to a friend or family member that has just shared a negative emotion, I am disregarding their feelings entirely. The same goes for my own feelings. It’s a rather cheap way out of the situation. When a friend or family member confides in you, they are looking for comfort, understanding, and connection. They are not looking for you to remind them to look at the bright side. In fact, they may want you to shove your sunshine and rainbows right up your arse! The same feeling can be conveyed when your entire online existence is too positive to be authentic. If we are to use social media to spread a positive message, this should include being authentic and sharing something real, something relatable. This also means being vulnerable. While empathy comes easy to me, vulnerability, and inherently authenticity do not. The realization that I can come off as fake is a hard pill to swallow.
I will forever believe in the power of positive thinking and being an optimist. Having a positive outlook in dark times will pull you out quicker. It isn’t always about looking at the bright side. It’s about being able to acknowledge your gratitudes during the storm, without dismissing the negative emotions. Social media can be a powerful tool. It reaches so many in a fraction of a second. I set out on this mission to spread a positive message, and in the midst of it, forgot about the importance of authenticity and vulnerability. Learning to express this more is a journey of self-discovery. One that is not easy as I am forced to look at the sides of myself I hide. But consider this … what happens when stop hiding, become truly vulnerable? I am not there yet, but I am working on it. The more I let those close to me in, the more peace I find. I believe sharing this journey is as important as encouraging positivity.