There is an interesting book I have reviewed lately, and I was left so conflicted with what it had to say. It was not controversial. In fact, most of it is quite beneficial. However, like a mosquito in the middle of the night, there is just one little bitty part of it that sends me into a bit of a tizzy and eye rolling experience.
Susan Jeffers, PhD, book Feel the Fear…and Do It Anyway is filled with really great information and exercises. It is written to move forward instead of back in reflection. The past is past so let us not get hung up on it when we want to achieve a goal.
I mean, that is not how I want to understand fear, but I get where she is coming from – let’s not linger on what we cannot correct, change, or fix. Instead, let us focus on the goal and get you there. And I do highly recommend her book…except for one itsy, bitsy little piece… Chapter 5: Pollyanna Rides Again.
Oy! To me Pollyanna personalities are like nails on a chalkboard.
Now to her credit, the intent is not to stay in a Pollyanna state of existence but to use it to reset the brain from a terminally negative, victim role into a more positive internal dialogue role. There is tremendous amount of research and data to prove the benefits to a changed mindset. Not only that we can change how our brains respond to situations, but also how we can, with work, sustain that positive internal dialogue.
So, what is my problem?
Well, I think it has to do with …wait, who am I kidding…it is totally my personal biases! Eternally happy people do not seem real to me, they do not appear honest about life, humanity, and the world around us. The house could be burning down, and they would be saying… well, at least it happened on a beautiful day. OMG – have a freakin’ breakdown, okay?!
The problem I have with Pollyanna personalities, and thus the implication of the benefits of Pollyanna as a marker, is that they fail many times to see and/or acknowledge the surrounding suffering – unwilling to validate others suffering, pain, and/or consequential negative reality. Do I believe that the truth is everything is survivable and there exists a silver lining in every negative experience, why yes I do. However, if you operate in the continue Pollyanna state of blind happiness without recognizing the negative – the house burned to the ground! everything we own in gone! we must start from the beginning again! you are in the end just lying to yourself and will pay the consequences much later in your life through depression, anxiety, or anger. In the end, you are not only setting yourself up for pain, but you are cheating others out of their right to feel pain.
There is nothing wrong in being a positive person – in fact, it is necessary to live happily, exist fully.
But when you use it as a tool to keep yourself safe from feeling pain – yours or anyone else’s – then you are just being cruel.
We can see the beauty, the possibilities, the hope and the dreams of everything and everyone around us. What we cannot do is hide from the reality of the truth.
Will the sun come out tomorrow? Of course. A new day will dawn – duh. But that is not the point.
The point is, if you are going to change your mindset from a negative to a positive, you must know that at some point you will have to face the reality of the pain of loss and of suffering and that to feel all of those things is necessary for you to grow!