Most people consider myself an overwhelmingly positive person. Typically everyday, they say, I seem to find joy and the bright side no matter what. My friends, I wish those people were right. I do like to think I am very positive and try my best to be, but in honesty I am a recovering negativity hoarder and negativity has always been my vice. I cling to it, I get lost in it, and often--I choose it over any notion that might bring stillness and peace into my mind. I started therapy in 2015 and quickly became aware of this negativity obsession and began my long journey in fighting it off everyday. I fail everyday. Everyday! I share this with you because an older, judgmental version of me would hear, “I fail everyday” and think, “So you must still be that negative person you always have been if you fail at fighting off negativity everyday”. But that older, judgmental version of me would be wrong. I say I fail everyday, because so many thoughts come into our minds and I’ve come to realize and acknowledge I can’t beat every negative thought that comes into my mind--in terms of going a whole day without negativity? FAIL. I used to beat myself up about this because there is a lot of expectation in being “positive” or “joyful” that I put upon myself. All that expectation, placed upon me (not within me) encourages me to look at myself through a magnifying glass.
Has anything or anyone ever looked pleasing through a magnifying glass?
It is distorted and irrational.
And yet, have you ever looked at yourself in a picture where your whole body was visible? You could see your face, your body, the things around you and the complexion of your face, the whiteness of your teeth don't matter. Through the big, expanded lens, perspective becomes a lot clearer and also more forgiving.
Tying it all together:
In times of great trauma, living in a critical capitalistic society, and an insecure society we can become attached and even excited for the negative. How else do we consistently find things that are wrong, unhelpful, and negative unless we are looking for them? It is as, when taking that magnifying glass and zooming in on the trauma, the worry, and the negativity we hope to see something positive. When we spiritual, mindful folx talk about “trusting in the positive '' and “focusing on the goodness” it isn't that we mean you should forget and simply let go of the hurt and trauma. What we can do is put the magnifying glass down. Zoom out a bit and take in a clearer perspective that is more forgiving to our own negative ways. Why forgiveness? Well, truthfully, you could choose to focus only on the goodness of the world and leave the darkness behind. But you won’t. And I won’t. We have been deeply conditioned to think and operate on a critical level. The best we can do is find awareness, be kind to ourselves, and keep trying our best to live in the light without beating ourselves up when we fall to the draw of the darkness.
There is also truth in the fact that there is always goodness. The miracle of life, sex between lovers, the work of activists getting recognized, someone getting a job during the pandemic, a hot meal, being in NYC and seeing a subway car performer after months of deafening silence in subway cars, new music by your favorite artists, someone deciding to go to grad school, a parents getting the Covid vaccine, people receiving their stimulus who were in great fear....If we are looking through a distorted lens, these things are small, hold no hope, and leave us even more angry at the world.
Take a moment and think of all the things that could be happening right now that could be good just within a mile of your home. See how you feel when you begin to broaden your perspective and intentionally look for goodness. It doesn't mean the madness is gone, either. We can trust in the goodness when goodness feels absent, but it might not look like everyone holding hands singing Dolly Parton. (However, if this is happening and is Covid safe, I wanna join.)
You are enough.