Whether you are a half full or half empty person, or have times where your balance is tipped towards one more than the other, understanding that we have a role to play in our positivity and negativity is key to personal growth, health and success without a doubt.
If you have read my article you’ll also have read the analogy of seeds in a field relating to our innate personal traits and emotions. My interpretation of Dr. Travis Bradberry’s article is that we can learn strategies to either nurture or suppress growth of the helpful and unhelpful seeds and plants in our personal field. Learning the skills, knowledge and application and becoming our own accomplished gardner or horticulturist. In those roles we can proactively improve the soil, environment and ultimately health of the helpful plants in our fields so that these thrive and the unhelpful weeds etc are less harmful or destructive. A field of flowers and mature trees is certainly uplifting.
For me it’s not that we shouldn’t nurture positivity, I agree with Dr Bradberry on this and the reasons why. However I come back to my original article that this has to be at the same time as respecting intrinsically, our emotions, our traits and how we are responding to life and not feeling guilty or the need to be positive when our circumstances and emotions are on the negative side. Understanding who we are and respecting the whole spectrum of emotions as fully ‘ok’ gives the freedom to move more freely and easily along the continuum. Allowing us to be human.
I do wonder whether the term positivity would be better described as optimism in the context of Dr Bradbury’s article . Pessimism is defiitely a word that is used. So is this more about attitude than positivity and negativity?
Allowing yourself to deeply feel your negative feelings (ie in grief) and accepting them as necessary rather than trying to suppress these feeling and ‘be positive’ seems to me a very optimistic approach to being human and living fully.
May be I’m over thinking this? However I am concerned about the number of people caught up in the Positivity trap (especially in Network Marketing) which in my experience actually holds many people back from achieving their full potential and causes more stress than success. Whereas optimism and pessimism are easier to reflect upon with compassion and becoming optimistic doesn’t require denial of who we are and what we are experiencing.
You may have different ideas…
Thank you Dr Bradberry for a thought provoking article as always!
Michelle Turner-Davidson is a speaker, trainer and mentor specialising in developing people and teams and taking the fear, hype and struggle out of network marketing.
Although I’ve worked in personal development and people development for many years I’ve never quite felt comfortable with the concept that positive thinking and positivity should hold such a high place in our tools and armoury for a ‘successful’ life. Positivity posts are all over facebook and social media, especially at this time of year. And, there are plenty of workshops, seminars, books, support groups available on the subject. To me, this is missing the point…
Human beings are multi-faceted and we have so-called ‘negative’ emotions and responses to situations for a reason. Putting a positive twist on everything, for positivity’s sake, means in some way we are not allowing natural reactions to some quite negative situations, cheating ourselves out of ‘feeling’ something we should absolutely be feeling. And, it is completely OKAY and normal to feel these feelings. They serve a purpose. Overriding these natural responses with ‘positive thinking’ doesn’t make life better, it masks it, (a sticking plaster over a dirty wound comes to mind) so we don’t learn how to and maybe lose the ability to grow from our experience and truly deal with it. It also makes people who have experienced challenging situations feel that they aren’t supported, and unable to express themselves properly… causing more harm than good.
I propose that real success in life and business has little to do with positivity and much more to do with awareness, knowledge, understanding of ourselves and others and our reactions to the experiences we have – the good, the bad and the ugly – and what we go on to do as a result. We can only know ourselves fully if we experience our dark side, and we can only understand and manage our responses through self-knowledge. Despite what is said, we can’t change who we are, what we can do is understand who we are, what triggers our emotions and responses positively and negatively and learn to see those triggers and manage our responses more appropriately. Even if a reaction is spontaneous and comes up from within, knowing ourselves gives the opportunity to respond to the fallout of an emotional outburst, take responsibility, accept it, acknowledge the impact on others and move forward.
From my yoga studies an analogy I use that describes this idea very well, is one of a field. We are the field and in it there are seeds (our emotions and inherent traits) the seeds are there no matter what. Some of our seeds have the potential to grow into beautiful flowers, some are weeds and have the potential to strangle the rest, some are the seeds of strong deep rooted trees, etc. The seeds in our fields are set. Our job is not to destroy those seeds or pretend they don’t exist (it’s a superfluous act and a waste of our time and energy), our job is to observe and understand the seeds we have and learn what feeds and nurtures them and what suppresses them. Our job is to understand the impact of growing the various seeds, not tending the field or poisoning the field. And if a Giant HogWeed suddenly appears out of nowhere (because we’ve been focussing on the rest of the field), it’s too late to stop it from growing! It’s there and it’s hurt people. Our job is to accept it’s existence and then learn how to heal those injured (including ourselves) and reduce the impact for future by understanding the circumstances and conditions that allowed it to grow.
When we are too busy trying to be positive about everything we tend the seeds / nurture the growth of the trees and flowers that make us feel good, and overlook the weeds or even the giant hogweed by the hedge.
I’m not suggesting that we should wallow in our misery or dismiss positivity out of hand. Being positive in itself isn’t a problem. It’s positivity for positivity’s sake. Life IS hard. And as human beings we have been given a huge range of emotions and thought processes to work it out. ‘The Upside of Your Darkside‘ is a refreshing, researched-based book which lifts the lid on the positivity world and let’s out all those things we probably knew were true… It’s ok to be human, it’s ok to have a darkside… more than that, our darkside may just be better for a successful life than all the positive thinking on Facebook…