29 April 2016

The Negative Side of Positivity

Some people told me I’m a positive person, because I rarely show negative emotions in the face of disaster or conflicts. I would be the one who always says ‘Calm down. There’s always a solution.’ I freaked out at first, but afterwards, most of the time, I would stay calm when the storms blow.

I see myself as a socially awkward person, because I hated the fact that I feel out of place in a crowd. But my friend strongly opposes the notion, stating that during a picnic at Sungai Pisang, I could playfully push a person who I had just known for a few hours, and I prepared sandwiches and handed them to every person who attended the picnic. “Don’t claim that you are a socially awkward person, people like you makes people like us look bad.” He said.

To spare you the debate, let’s just assume I’m a relatively positive person.

I might not feel like a positive person, because trying to be positive is sometimes draining, and more than a trait, it feels more like an attempt.

Being positive is the product of years of conditioning and desensitization towards negative happening in my life. It’s more like the end product of not giving a damn, in a sense it’s more like a bad thing than a good thing. It means that you cover up your vulnerability by being a floating, cheerful personality to avoid from showing your inner soft side. Being positive is like putting on the mask to cover and combat the negative feelings trying to dominate yourself, because there is just no other way to be.

For a person who was broken down into pieces time and time again, and each time you have to go down and pick yourself up by collecting and combining all the pieces again, you sort of have to muster all the strength that you have in order to do that and each time through the process the strength is becoming more and more amplified.

I was severely bullied in school. Strangely enough, the word bully itself means that it was my general idea on the whole situation. It took me years to liberate myself from the victimhood complex by seeing the events in a new perspective.

During those events, I see myself as helpless and weak, and every time negative words are being hurled at me, I see them as threats and I took them in. I was lacking the capability to turn them around back at the person hurling them in a good playful manner. It is with time I found the wit to counter the confrontation and I found that it was all about my reactions toward things that constitute my standing in a society.

People generally love positive people, who smile when they are being joked about, or worse if they are being ridiculed, but they could still maintain a smile nonetheless. People love being friends with people who are not self-conscious and who are not too sensitive about every other thing.

But being positive has an ugly side. Being positive means I took it hard on myself. I blamed myself for every unhappy thing that has happened and will happen in my life. For when something bad happened to me, I tried to rationalize them by saying it is my fault all along, and that I could choose to face them with a smile, or I could feel sad and be mad about it.

Feeling sad and bitter is easier, and contrary to what you believe, it took less effort to feel sad than to feel happy. Feeling happy means you have to step up beyond the negative things and put them beneath your feet.

Feeling sad means you just take the situation in, internalize it, and then wallow in self-pity. Self-pity is the number one enemy of your happiness. It renders you unable to feel grateful, to feel content, and ultimately to feel happy not just about yourself, but for everyone else. It fills you with jealousy, it makes you stay in a victimhood mindset.

People who self-pity themselves are the worst. The number one telltale sign is those people who always scream ‘Why it’s always me?’ when bad things happen to them. These are also the people who would always post pretentious quotes on social media about relationships and about feeling underappreciated or wronged by a spouse, their family and friends or the society at large.

Being positive for me, starts with a point of reference that should be your flag whenever you feel negativity is taking over. And that point of reference for me is feeling grateful.

When I feel like I wasn’t loved enough, I reminded myself that there are people, even among my close friends, who were generally disliked by whom they call friends, and it’s a situation even sadder than mine.

When I feel I have a bad life, I reminded myself that there are people working in the same company as I am, making only half of my salary even though they are older; much older than me. But smiles never fade from their face.

When I feel jealous looking at people traveling all over the world, I reminded myself that I did get my chance of traveling and doing so much more even within the country. And that maybe they have a sad life that they only feel alive by traveling and they had to exaggerate and gloss that part to give an illusion of their real sad life, and I could relate to that. I posted happy pictures of myself on social media, but it is only me who knows the real ups and downs of my life.

When I feel down that I could not pursue a life I wanted to live, I started to write, and feeling glad that there are people who are still reading and appreciating my writing. And whatever they say, this is a gift from God to me.

When people make fun of me, I could come out with 10 worse things about them that I could make fun of, but I would rather be a greater person and smile because I would think that they have nothing against me and they were joking about me in a good spirit.

When I feel like I am physically lacking, I reminded myself of those people, yup even those people that I communicated with on a daily basis, who live with permanent disabilities.

All of these make me feel grateful of being me. That I had no reason to be mad or sad about anything in the world, because if life is cruel to you, then think about all other people that have it harder than you.

But being positive means I had to have it all under control, that I had always have to stop and assess the gravity of a situation, and applies a feel-good filter on them and it is hard sometimes. When the situation is relatively calmer, you could always definitely remain your composure. But if you are under constant pressure with lots of input from your surrounding, you have a harder time to convert those input as positive thoughts and it could be a disaster. As a person who got nervous very easily, remaining positive is a real life challenge.

Lastly, being positive does not mean you don’t have negative feelings. But 1- you appreciate the people around you so much that you don’t think you should show them your negative side, 2- negative feelings should not be your master, but you should be theirs, and you should have them in check 3- why would you want to ruin your day by feeling sad or mad about something?

With that, I conclude this late night ranting. Be positive and have a good day ahead.

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