Some people act like life is a cakewalk if it’s just filled with positive thoughts

Some people think life is a cakewalk if it’s filled with positive thoughts

I’d written the post below before coming across this announcement:

Motivational speaker John Littig and psychotherapist Lynne Rosen have been found dead. Note said, “I can’t take it anymore, my wife is in too much pain.” Their “Pursuit of Happiness” radio show spoke of personal development and growth.


One of my thoughts as I went to bed last night:

Some people act like life is a cakewalk if it’s just filled with positive thoughts, but I don’t think most people believe it’s that easy. Many of the decisions I’ve made have been incredibly hard, sometimes heartbreaking, and before I reached those decisions, there was no way I could think positively about what was going on, like, “Oh, isn’t this nice? What a wonderful learning opportunity!” We just don’t think this way when we’re in the middle of terrible situations. I’ve been in some awful ones—struggling for days, months and even years—trying to figure out how to make the right decisions, to figure out how the heck I was going to get out of them or beyond them. That’s what I think people want to know.


Sadly, for the Littig and Rosen, they didn’t find what would help them (in my memoir, which still needs to be edited, I share the path I’ve taken and where I am now.)

This is what brought on the thoughts above:

I was looking at a Pinterest site yesterday and all of the posts were positive messages.

If I’d run across that a few years ago, I would have thought, “That’s crazy! You can’t just think away the crap you’re dealing with. You can’t just decide to be happy and *poof*…life is better.”

It’s taken me a while to understand what’s going on, but I think this is what is happening.

Some people have pretty decent lives for the most part. They’re loved by their parents (this gets a bit confusing and I go into this further below) and life has always gone pretty smoothly for them. When something bad happened, they could pick themselves up from it fairly easily because they had support systems.

So, they think it’s just a matter of your attitude. Sure, they say, some bad things are going to happen, but it will get better. Just think positively. Don’t complain. Be thankful and everything will be better.

But if we’re always spending our time looking for ways to be thankful and thinking positively, how can we even recognize the things we need to change when things really aren’t going well?

Some people have good relationships and they think all they have to do is tell us their secrets and we can all have the same happiness. No. Sometimes relationships don’t work. All kinds of them.

So, about our parents. Yeah, they may love us deep down, but some of them have a strange way of showing it. Some of them don’t show it at all. They just expect us to know, even if they don’t show us in ways that mean anything to us (more on that in the memoir). And some do some things that are hurtful and it’s really hard to get over those.

I’m also seeing tons of posts about forgiveness. Some saying that we have to forgive or we can’t possibly love anyone. Seriously? There are some things, in my opinion, that are unforgivable. There are a couple of people in my life that I have no interest in forgiving. What they did was unacceptable and I want nothing to do with them.

I think this goes along with the idea that we can make “everything” better. That everything should work out somehow. It seems like we feel pressured to live by these words just because someone said them at some point.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve reached a point of forgiveness after something that hurt terribly. I’ll never talk about it because I have found my way to forgiveness, but it still hurts like hell when I let myself think about it and I’ll always wish it would have never happened. I know it helps some people to know others have gone through similar situations, but I think that’s why we have fiction, so we can protect some people and maintain some levels of privacy.

Privacy is a tough one. Everyone has ideas about what we can talk about and what we can’t. And, to some degree, I think that’s what is creating this false front that people are trying to live.

Some people may think that all we need to hear are positive messages—I don’t. I think sometimes we need to hear what’s real, what’s really hard and how people have managed to get through it.

*UPDATE: I’ve been thinking a lot about forgiveness and I am going to work on another post about it. I think it needs more discussion, because it seems like it’s a great way for people who are abusive to expect that they can do whatever they want and they’ll be forgiven, every time.

And if we just “forgive in our minds” and they don’t ever know it, what’s the point? What does that accomplish? I think forgiveness might be important for people who have been hurt by family members and they really do feel the need to heal it, but I think there are some times and situations when it’s another one of those things where the abused or hurt person is made to feel like they’re doing something wrong because they can’t or don’t feel they should have to forgive what someone does.

*UPDATE #2: Found my thoughts validated on a clip by Barbara Ehrenreich from her book, Smile or Die, via Upworthy: Why the Religion of Positive Thinking Needs to be Burned at the Stake—there are a lot of similar ideas, but there is one important difference in viewpoints where she talks about the book, The Secret. It’s becoming clear to me that people speak through the lens of limited experience and that is making it really hard for people to process the information they are getting. Not sure when and how I am going to address this, but I will at some point.

4 Responses to Some people act like life is a cakewalk if it’s just filled with positive thoughts

  1. Have you read Smile Or Die by Barbara Ehrenreich? I loved that polemic.

    I prefer to think in terms of ‘acceptance’ rather than ‘forgiveness’, which is linked too closely to religious thought for my liking.

    • I haven’t. I recall her name from another collection or book, was it “Nickle and Dimed?” (Yeah, looked it up. I have that one and thought she did an excellent job on it). Will check out “Smile or Die.” I thought about the term acceptance to define my perspective and was a little unsure about it because we can be brainwashed to accept unacceptable conditions, i.e. I chose not to accept an abusive situation any longer and I had to figure out what made it abusive…lots of people were trying to tell me it wasn’t, to accept it, to even be thankful for it. I feel like I’m driven to try to understand and put the rights words to these issues so I can communicate about my experiences and not just toss out platitudes. I can see you are as well. I’ll look forward to your future posts.

  2. Something I read (of course) – I think it was in a Heinlein novel, not sure – but it was about the nature of electricity. How the whole idea of an A/C is that one line brings in the positive charge and one line takes away the negative. (And if you’ve ever wired something, you know that there’s a third line, to ground the circuit. In life – gardening, animal tending, etc. – it is not enough to add the seed, fertilizer, food, bedding – the dead branches and leaves must be removed, the sh*t shoveled. In your closet – you can’t just keep buying new clothes, you have to purge the ones that are soiled, torn, you don’t like or don’t fit you anymore. (Hear that closet? I’m comin’ for YOU.)

    In writing – there is a cycle of creating new work, and a cycle of editing, pruning, discarding what isn’t working. I love the happy warm positive inspiring thoughts, on Pinterest and everywhere else, BUT… they can’t be the whole story. We have to give ourselves room to be quiet, angry, hurt, disappointing – there aren’t BAD feelings, there are only unhealthy ways to express (or not express) them.

    Re: forgiveness, I agree with the earlier commenter who related it more to acceptance. This is what happened; it was sh*tty, it hurt me, but I can’t change the past. Forgiveness isn’t saying, “Okay, I forgive you, now abuse me some more,” to the person who hurt you.

    • I thought about it a little more and the best term I can come up with now is self-respect. It doesn’t fit as well in our two-second soundbite world: “Think self-respect,” but I know my mind is going to keep processing this because it’s an important conversation. Love Heinlein. Your examples rock!

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