My word for 2018 is Positivity, and I’ve learned quickly that this year needs to be approached differently than years past if I want to see any growth and self-improvement.
You see, in years gone by, I could merely think about my Word and it would infuse my life. Was I being Truthful? Or Courageous? Was I finding Balance? When facing quandaries, my Word gave me a path to follow. However, with Positivity, it seems I can’t Think/Feel/Be more Positive simply because I wish it. No matter how much I desire it or think it “should” work, the reality is – it doesn’t!
When I was in Thailand, I read The Happiness Project by Gretchin Rubin. It chronicles her year of trying to be a happier person. But she didn’t just try to think happier to be happier; she took concrete, measurable steps to gauge her happiness. An interesting concept, to be sure.
The following Ted Talk by psychologist Susan David touches on Positivity, along with a font of other emotions. It resonated with me because, for however empathic and emotive I am now, until very recently I was so completely closed off to my emotions I had absolutely no idea how to handle them once they started to break their carefully constructed banks. I had put up so many walls and barriers to contain everything I felt (and I realize now, everything I soaked up from what OTHER PEOPLE were feeling), that I didn’t truly understand what I was feeling were emotions – regular, human emotions, albeit amplified by 20+years of build up. I actually thought my emotions would swallow me whole, that I could not survive what I was feeling, and I became suicidal. Self fulfilling much?
Well, I am fortunate that the one time I decided to reach out for help I found a wonderful therapist who has helped me learn to accept my emotions. I still catch myself thinking what I “Should/Shouldn’t” be feeling far too often, but I’m still here. And I’ve learned (and am still learning) how to listen to my feelings, let myself have them, but to let them go rather than succumb to the overwhelm. Ride the Wave, as it were; because the Flood of Overwhelm comes from the ignoring of your feelings, or manically latching on to IWantTheseFeelingsToGoAway! So much more pain and suffering comes from fighting with my emotions; whereas, if I can acknowledge them and let them run their course, that course will invariably be shorter and more manageable to my system absent my angsty interference.
I highly recommend you watch Susan’s Ted Talk HERE.
I asked my friends for their thoughts on Positivity, and answers ranged from meditation, mindfulness/being present, practicing compassion (for yourself and others), and keeping a Gratitude Journal to realizing sometimes it’s necessary to complain – but don’t leave it at that. If an issue keeps coming up that upsets or brings you down, what can you do to change the situation? Positivity doesn’t mean being false, stifling your current feelings, or being willfully blind. Nor is it guilting yourself by saying, “Such and such has it soooo much worse than I do!” (Been there, done that. Lesson learned: You’ll just be left feeling like a terrible human being. No bueno.)
It’s clear to me I’ll need to expand the basic concept of my Yearly Word Project in order to experience any sort of benefit with Positivity. While I’m a bit fuzzy on the details, I believe it has to do with learning about Positivity; not just as an easy trope, but in all its connotations, applications, misconceptions, and rampant opportunities. It seems to be a word to which people only attach one meaning – I think there is more. I’ll keep you posted.