The pressure to be positive always

Image Credit — https://unsplash.com/@tidesinourveins

I think this will be a long post but I must write it. Was in two minds whether to post it here or not but considering I am only active on Medium these days, it had to be posted here only.

So, I think the pressure to always ‘think positive’ is too high these days.

The pressure to always ‘feel happy’ is too high these days.

The pressure to have a ‘perfect life’, rather project a perfect life is too high these days.

And, the pressure to be always ‘cool & confident’ is just too high these days.

I mean, you express a moment of worry or weakness to anyone and here you go, suddenly everyone is ready with a quote on power of positive thinking and optimism and how it’s your thought that’s responsible for all the miseries in your life and… well, you know all those “ands”, as I am sure you get to listen to it as much as I do :)

And thanks to those good- morning messages on Whatsapp or quote-of-the-day messages on Facebook, almost everybody is actually a philosopher today.

So, when I met with this fateful accident last to last month, I was not at all thinking anything negative. I was in a very happy, chirpy mood and suddenly a big boom…life got crashed literally!

The evening I lost my brother few years back, I was not at all thinking anything negative. In fact that day I had taken an off from work and I was planning to watch a movie with my husband. Suddenly a phone call came…and life got changed permanently!

Whenever someone says this to me — “always think positive and only positive will happen, don’t ever let any negative thought come to your mind at all”, I feel like replying — “just by thinking positive, positive won’t happen and just by thinking negative, negative won’t happen. Whatever has to happen will happen, that’s it!” This might sound weird but I think I get to listen to this gyaan on positive thinking too much now.

Whether positive has happened or negative, it definitely matters on how you embrace the situation and deal with it but don’t put the burden or guilt of any state of life on just thoughts. These forced efforts to always think positive and deny any negative thoughts or emotions do more harm than good I think.

To add to that, definitely don’t do it to sound perfect, confident or cool in front of others. Definitely don’t resist your negative emotions like fear, anxiety or pain just to project a “happy” and “perfect” life to others. I know in today’s filtered view of world where we get to see only the best of someone’s life being communicated via Facebook or Instagram, it’s an additional pressure on most to always project that perfect image to others.

Recently a friend visited me when I was in hospital, I was actually meeting her after long and she looked quite distressed as against her gorgeous instagram timeline that was updated regularly. After seeing my condition, she became emotional and when I asked her if everything was ok with her, she finally broke down. She was going through a very difficult divorce and her real life was in total mess. On hearing the details, I was shocked especially because we were supposedly in touch with each other through facebook, instagram as well as whatsapp where her life seemed to be all so perfect & beautiful. We chatted again after few days when I saw another picture update of hers in a resort. This time, she did inform me that all these recent updates are pictures from past that she is posting as present. She has to project that she is a “happy” and “strong” woman like earlier and she doesn’t want her professional contacts to know about her divorce. She also wants to let her family, especially her husband and his side of family to know that she is “cool” about her divorce and she is taking it all “positively”.

Oh man, I can’t even imagine the pressure and turmoil she must be going through to project this positive and happy state of her life. After some deliberation on whether to say it or not, I finally ended up telling her that it’s ok to be not happy always and in case she can’t discuss her real state of life with anyone, maybe she should be off social media for sometime. At least being off would be easier than to continuously try to paint a rosy picture of her life. Every day she is in my prayers these days, may she get the strength to accept and deal with her inner pain.

Speaking of my stay at hospital or on being strong, recently I wrote a post on fear here. Before I move to my point that’s contextual to this post, I must say that most of my friends and acquaintances have been very-very supportive of me during this accident and I can’t express my gratitude to all for the kind of love and support they extended to me and my family. To all of you, who have been there for us during this phase, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Coming down to the post, I generally don’t write personal posts here but I still ended up writing that one as those feelings were truly troubling me a lot and somehow I can’t discuss such feelings at home where I have my mom and my son — both of whom too terrified to see my state like this. In front of them, I always end up telling things like — “I am fine, it’s not at all paining and don’t worry, I will be fine very soon”. It was one of those sleepless nights due to pain of injuries and wounds that I jotted down those thoughts. Some of my close acquaintances warned me after reading that post — “why did you post such things online? World knows you as strong Kanupriya and feelings like fear, pain etc are not good for your professional reputation especially when you are a woman in a senior role.” I know they told it with good intention. I asked one of them who is a close friend if I shall delete that post and he said yes. He further added that he understands it’s posted on my personal network and not on the professional one but still why to show the emotional or weaker side of my personality that’s known to be so strong and confident.

So, this left me thinking and I finally told him — you know we have created such a rose tinted view of our lives online. While that’s only a slice of our life that we post online, many take it as the full piece and are running after it like a mirage in their real life. After a long conversation on this topic, finally my friend told me to post even this online instead of deleting the old one (you know who you are, thank you :)).

I am strong and anyone who has known me since childhood knows that I have always fought my own battles with grit. Having said that, to say that I don’t have weaker moments in my life will be a very big lie. Acceptance of some moments of fear doesn’t take my strength away and I know that I will be back on my feet very soon. I am also aware that not every injury of mine will be fixed completely, but I for sure know that I will be back to being the same strong Kanupriya soon again.

Few others also told me, “why do you think these negative things, whatever happens, happens for good”.

Again I know that they are telling it with good intent but you know I am sorry to say that one can’t, especially the ones facing adversities in life, always think positive in life. Ask anyone who has lost a spouse, sibling or child to believe in quotes like “whatever happens, happens for good”; trust me you don’t know how that person feels when you say such things in their acute moments of pain and crisis.

In fact I think this permanently-optimistic, always-think-positive and forever-happy state of life is quite delusional. As a child, I used to feel guilty of my own thoughts. I used to often wonder, why is it me only who gets such thoughts? But as I grew in life, I had different kinds of experiences and with time I have internalized that — positive or negative thoughts do not matter, what matters is how you act in any situation.

So, in case you’re one of those who:

Gets negative thoughts at times - trust me it’s absolutely normal.

Gets afraid, anxious or pained - congratulations, you’re still a human and not a social media bot!

Just remember that:

“Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists.” — Eckhart Tolle

In case those who know me in real life are wondering, why am I talking it all zen like? Well, perhaps that’s what happens when you are on bed for months like this :) :)