The case against feeling the need to always be positive
Updated: Jan 10, 2021
I recently engaged in a lively conversation with dear friend, who was experiencing some frustration and discontent. Those emotions manifested for him due to constraints pertaining to his living situation, relationship issues, and a general sense of lack of direction.
During our chat, he mentioned that he "knew" he was supposed to work on always being positive, and how his "fight" against hate and anger was draining him physically, as well as in other ways.
It occurred to me how interesting that belief system is, that if we're doing what we're supposed to do, then we'll feel or be "positive" all the time. It almost suggests that in moments when we are not being or feeling positive, we've failed in some way.
Perhaps a different way to approach this is to be mindful of the thoughts we encounter, and aware of the feelings they can lead to. For example, a feeling of frustration can be birthed from a thought of "I'm not smart enough to figure out why I can't be happy right now."
Instead of letting the frustration snowball into an even worse feeling of failure, because one is not feeling "positive" in that moment, address the original thought in a mindful way. That is, become the observer of the original thought, not the creator or target of it. In that sense, there is detachment from responsibility, not just for the thought itself, but from the obligation to "feel" as that thought would normally mandate. This can be freeing in many ways, and supports our true roles as creators, by choosing in the present moment where to focus attention and energy.
However, how do we remember to do this, since we encounter an incalculable number of thoughts regularly? Ironically, those negative feelings may be our allies in such moments. Our feelings get our attention and alert us to upon what we are focusing our attention at a given moment. It is then that we can be mindful of the thoughts we're holding, and observe and release the ones that are not serving us. This, as opposed to absorbing them and the attendant feelings, including the feeling of failure for not feeling positive.
Such standing in our power and taking on the role of creator is, arguably, inherently positive in and of itself!