The real meaning of Positivity

Opening up to the past.  It can be really hurtful.  It’s so much easier to block everything out.  To shut down.  To make yourself try to forget.  As Scarlett O’Hara liked to say in Gone with the Wind, “I won’t think about that today, I’ll think about that tomorrow.”

Our culture can be so stoic sometimes, it trains us to shut things away into the closet within ourselves.  That messy cartoon closet that’s so stuffed the door barely shuts, but it looks just great from the outside.  As long as the door is clean and the latch is closed.  Sometimes, our culture forces us to clench a smile onto our faces, and to project a sunshiny attitude onto everything.

But sometimes staying positive isn’t so easy to do.  So I suggest a change in the meaning of positivity.  To me, positivity isn’t about always being happy.  It’s not about always smiling, always laughing, and otherwise having a perfect beginning, conflict, and resolution plot line to your life.  To me, positivity is about always recognizing that things will get better eventually.   Not today, not tomorrow, not because you force yourself to be “ok,” but because you hope, you know, you strive, so that one day your perseverance will pay off.  Positivity doesn’t mean you always have to be happy.  Just that you should never give up hope.

As Galadriel says in the movie version of Lord of the Rings, “Let [hope] be a light to you in all places, when all other lights go out.”

It’s funny how light always comes up as the cliché analogy when speaking about a hopeful future, but in my opinion, there must be a reason that countless authors throughout the centuries have used light to describe it all.  I guess it’s because, although the sun may set, it has to rise again eventually 🙂

Forgive Yourself

So I try, dear readers, to write about 2 blog posts per month.  Sadly, I often fail in achieving this goal.  I could go on to talk about how life and work and distractedness get in the way of this, but instead I want to talk about the idea of failure.  I’ve found, when you’ve grown up abused, that failure often translates from the people who’ve failed you in life (failed to love you, failed to protect you, failed to be kind and compassionate), to an intense, deep seated feeling of failure within yourself.

That’s how I feel.  After all this time, all this therapy, all these years, I still struggle with the concept that I’m a failure.  A big, fat, awkward, failure.  Sometimes the feeling of unworthiness makes my body physically hunch, as if then I could hide from the most tormenting judge of all; that of myself.  That I will never be good enough.  Never be kind enough, and yada yada bla bla.  All the mean things that my inner voice tells myself.  All the lies that echo in my head from the shouted torture of the brother that originally abused me, of the boyfriend who used to hurt me and then tell me it was all my fault.  Sometimes, the failure of my relationships come crashing down around me and my heart feels a little bit crippled.

Maybe it’s all the rain lately, but sometimes my thoughts turn a bit dark, turn a bit inward.

It is at these times when it is most important to forgive ourselves.  This month, I’m going to be exploring some themes from a book I read recently called “Radical Acceptance” by Tara Brach.  If you are interested at all, I highly recommend that you read it.  The quotes and sources that Tara pulls from are really powerful, and it really helped me to look at my life with a new type of, believe it or not, acceptance.

Like this one exercise she gives, it seems so simple, yet it can be so hard.  So straightforward, and yet for me, so powerful.  A type of meditation, this exercise doesn’t have to be undertaken in a contorted, seated yoga posture, with eyes closed and zenlike nirvana attained.  This exercise can be done at your computer screen at work, before bedtime, upon waking up in the morning, in the shower, making breakfast, going for a run.  Wherever and whenever.

I want you to look at yourself.  Not in a mirror, but inside of yourself.  Into that big, warm, loving, wounded, magical space some cultures call your soul.  Look at every scar that mars the lining of it, every fear that drapes around your shoulders like a heavy cloud, your flaws, the awkward moments, the facial feature you wish you could change, your concerns about work, your weight, your shortcomings.  View them all, embrace them, and then say “This too.  Forgiven.  Forgiven.”  Just take a minute, and as each new hurtful thought arises, give yourself permission to forgive yourself.  Embrace that thought and then let it go, like a light feather floating on the breeze, or a bright leaf on the autumn wind.  Forgiven.  Forgiven.

You are forgiven.

In the words of one of my favorite poets, Anis Mojgani, “You always were.  You already are.  And you still have time to be.”

So take a moment to thank yourself for exactly who you are now.