“think positive” can be a phrase used to dismiss feelings

Written by Amie on March 3, 2014 – 3:23 pm -

 it would bring their pain to the surface

The very popular phrase “think positive” triggers me when it is used to encourage one to avoid feeling their feelings. Maybe it reminds me of a child falling down and an adult around them saying, “oh get up, you are fine”.  When someone is feeling strong emotions (or any emotions, for that matter) and someone tells them they are fine or tells them to just think positive, this is a way to dismiss their feelings. Think about a time when you were upset and you really needed to be heard and you really needed comforted. If someone said to you, “it will be okay, just think positive”, how did you feel? I know from my experience, I felt angry and I felt dismissed. I immediately shut down and stopped talking about my feelings. I made the decision that this person is not a safe person to talk to about my true feelings. I believe people mean well when they say this, and if they could get in touch with why they say it, it could bring great healing to them. I believe people do this because they are in emotional pain themselves, and by allowing someone else to express their emotions, it would bring their pain to the surface and that would be too difficult to face. So, telling someone to, “think positive”, is a way to shut the person down while feeling as though they have shown compassion.

twowoman

we must face our emotional pain in order to heal

People today are walking through life in a great deal of pain. They are also attempting to hide this pain. There is so much emphasis on focusing on the positive right now. I believe this hinders people from feeling safe to express their truth. The whole idea of focusing on the positive just rubs me the wrong way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should focus on the negative or stay in our stories so much that we are depressed most of the time. What I am saying is we must face our emotional pain in order to heal. Trying to “stay positive” when you are in deep emotional pain is just one more thing to make you feel like you failed. I remember a time when I thought I would never feel better because I kept hearing “just focus on the positive”, and I truly couldn’t do that. I felt so deeply depressed I wanted to curl up in a ball and escape from life. So how in the world could I “just think positive” when my body was screaming to me that something is wrong! And it wasn’t that I was focusing on the negative. I was suffering. I was in deep emotional pain. Thinking positive wasn’t even an option. It just made me feel worse because “I couldn’t even do that right”. I would say something positive to myself and then I would feel so angry! Then I would proceed to beat myself up because it didn’t work, which kept the cycle going.

 It doesn’t mean you are too needy, too clingy, or too sensitive

So I am saying all of this to say, feel your pain, feel your emotions, feel your aliveness. If you are depressed, allow yourself to feel the pain. Invite it in. Allow it to have a voice. Write about it, express it to a trusted friend or therapist or family member. If you express your truth to someone and you feel dismissed, TRUST THAT FEELING!!!! It is NOT YOU, it is them. They may be in too deep of emotional pain themselves to be able to hear you, be there for you, support you. Its okay, just find someone else. But, please please please do not beat yourself up if you feel dismissed by someone. It doesn’t mean you are too needy, too clingy, or too sensitive. It just means they are not the right person for you to trust with your innermost thoughts.

is like beating yourself up emotionally

The journey to your truth begins with becoming aware of yourself. Becoming aware of your body sensations, your thoughts, your beliefs. All of your feelings are valid. Don’t let anyone dismiss your feelings. If they need to go through life telling others to “just think positive”, then let them. It has nothing to do with you. We must feel what is true inside us if we want to thrive in our aliveness. Emotions are part of being human. Dismissing them or avoiding them or holding them back in shame are conditioned ways of being in our world. This is not our natural state! Many of us learned to avoid feeling. We were told, “you’re fine”, or “you should feel so lucky”, or “it could be so much worse”, or “just think positive, it will be fine”…..I’m sure you could add to this. Saying these to yourself is like beating yourself up emotionally, it is continuing the conditioned ways in which you were taught. Say one of these phrases to yourself when you are feeling bad, and really focus on how your body reacts when you say it. How does your stomach feel? How about your chest? Or your head? These are all signs from your body to tell you something isn’t feeling right. Question what is going on inside you. How does it feel when you are dismissed?

Start paying close attention to how your body feels in different situations. How it feels when others say certain things to you. You have a right to your feelings. No matter what. It is your job to find the right people to support you. Let the universe know you are ready for people to come into your life who will love you and support you for being exactly *you*. You are worthy of love and you deserve love. If you feel dismissed by someone, it is them, not you. Remember that. There is nothing wrong with you. You are loved.

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Posted in Awareness, Depression, Healing & personal growth, healing from depression, Nurture yourself | 4 Comments »

Depression and the game of “pretend”

Written by Amie on April 1, 2013 – 3:04 am -

 playing the “fine” game

Pretend as though everything is “fine”? No thanks.  Just hearing the word “fine”still triggers a bit of anger in me. How many times did I answer the question, “How are you?” with “FINE”, when in fact, I was far from feeling fine! I quit. I quit the game. The game of pretend is over for me. I refuse to do it. I choose healthy behavior, and pretending is not a part of healthy behavior. I will only choose to answer “fine” if I am just not in the mood to give someone my energy. I spent years playing the “fine” game, and it is a really unhealthy game. I understand why we do it. We do it to avoid having to feel the truth of any given situation. We do it to avoid being vulnerable. Most of us have been trained well at the game of pretend. A few years ago I changed the rules. Many people around me were not too happy. That’s okay. If they choose to continue playing, that is their choice. For me, the game of pretend equals suffering. I no longer choose to suffer. I chose the path of looking at my life and feeling the pain that was blocking my authenticity. I chose the path of truth.  In order to be authentic, we have to feel. We have to be real with the emotions that come up in our lives. I didn’t know how to do that until a few years ago. I’m still learning.

 suppressing all of my innate needs and emotions

I know for certain that my depression was the accumulation of years of pretending. I pretended I was feeling fine, I pretended as though I didn’t have needs, I pretended as though nothing bothered me, I pretended I was happy, I pretended like I was fulfilled…..I could go on and on. Pretending is another way of saying I was suppressing all of my innate needs and emotions. We all desire (need)to be with like minded people who love and support us. This is being human. We all desire(need) to be seen and heard. We all desire (need) to feel safe to express who we are. We all have needs, this is what we do as humans. It is healthy. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t have needs. When we pretend, we stuff all of our needs and then try to talk ourselves into believing we don’t need anything, and that we are “fine”. And then when one of these needs speaks really loud, we tell ourselves we are being too needy, too sensitive, too…fill in the blank. We have been conditioned to feel shame and guilt for having needs! We have learned to feel bad about having real human needs. We have been conditioned to think we should be perfect….which means we shouldn’t have needs. If we don’t have needs, then we don’t have emotions, right? How can you have emotions if you don’t need anything? How can I be disappointed or sad when someone who says they care about me is disrespectful? If I don’t have the need for respect and safety, then I shouldn’t feel anything when these things don’t happen.  But the truth is, we all have needs! Just because we have been taught to ignore our needs, doesn’t mean we don’t have them. It just means we are pretending, so that we appear “normal”. (whatever that is! There is no such thing, in my opinion)

guilt and shame galore

We have been conditioned to judge ourselves for needing, and then judging and shaming ourselves for having emotions over the fact that we aren’t getting our needs met. If we continue this pattern, self-hate sets in. We think we “shouldn’t” feel a certain way, and when we do feel that way, we hate ourselves for having those feelings. It is a vicious cycle. Guilt and shame galore! Guilt and shame are learned “emotions” (it can be argued whether or not they are even true emotions). Guilt and shame are used to control others and to condition people. Guilt and shame are used to get a person to feel bad enough about themselves that they will comply with what someone wants them to do. Think about a situation with a child. If the child is doing something “undesirable” in the eyes of an adult, so often the adult will use tactics that actually teach the child to start feeling bad about themselves. For example, the adult may say, “but I will be so sad if you don’t stop doing that”, or “that is bad, you are bad for doing that”, or “why would you even think of doing that?” All of these examples begin the process of conditioning a child to feel guilt and shame. They learn to feel responsible for others’ well being. The adult is conditioning them to believe they should act accordingly so that the adult is comfortable. Therefore, the child starts thinking they are bad for expressing their own truth. If a person lives many years this way, they are in the habit of hiding their own truth in order to please those around them. They hide their true self, their true needs, their true desires, because they want to avoid feeling “bad”, and they want to avoid upsetting others. This is how we begin feeling ashamed and feeling as though our needs make no difference. Others’ feelings are more important than ours.

it is easier to isolate than to reach out

It is not surprising to me at all that depression is rampant. The majority of people go through their days pretending as though they are fine, feeling afraid to reach out to others for fear of being shamed, or labeled as weak. This is so sad. I understand how it is easier to isolate than to reach out. I did it for years. I pretended as though things were great, when inside myself I was feeling so lost and so sad. I reached out and started getting help, I read every book I could get my hands on, I began learning how to love myself and nurture myself, and I began seeking others who were on the same path. I sought out others who also wanted to stop pretending. I need authentic people in my life, and I am not going to pretend that I don’t. Once I opened my heart to this fact, some really wonderful people started to show up for me. Although it is sad to let go of those who would rather I pretend, I knew in my heart that I had to let them go with love. I have compassion for their struggles, but I can no longer stay in their stories with them. I have to take care of myself. I will allow people in my life who are authentic and respectful of the real me. They love and support me for who I am. They encourage me and lift me up. They show up for me in ways that I never thought possible. I also know and understand that I am responsible for my feelings, and others are responsible for theirs. Knowing this gives me the confidence to express who I really am. For this, I am grateful.

 

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Posted in Awareness, Depression, healing from depression, Help with depression | 2 Comments »
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