May 16, 2021

Why we Don’t Need to be Positive all the Time.

I went through a season where I felt really angry.

It came as a surprise, and I didn’t really know what to do with it. Anger had a bad stigma in my eyes. I was an optimistic chick, you know?

There are only a few times, and I’m talking very few, that I’ve had a moment of anger. And I’d quickly clear it up and retreat to my cave of what I thought was humility. Because I felt guilty for being angry.

But this time was different. I let myself get angry. I mean, I went the full throttle. I bought a rock CD and sang at the top of my lungs. Deep imprints were left in my journal after writing. I got mad.

As I’m writing this now, I’m laughing because it’s still so soft and delicate. But anyway—I got angry the best way I knew how. What was so confusing was not knowing why I felt this way.

When this happens, we must have the courage to dig a little deeper:

I decided to trust my gut and go with it.

I let myself feel what was erupting in my spirit. I gave myself space—to just be. I wasn’t denying it to suit anyone or society at large. I had to let go of that perfectionistic voice and inner critic, the one that would usually yell at me: “Angry? What do you have to be angry about? You shouldn’t complain! You’re being ungrateful!” To continue listening to that voice meant quieting my anxiety only temporarily. Instead, I let my peace be disturbed.

Being a seeker of peace and tranquility, getting mad doesn’t seem like the “spiritual” thing to do, you know? But it was time to push fear aside and question this ancient belief I was holding onto.

At first, I was angry with myself, then society, and then people who acted unfairly. I was angry at how others get treated. I was angry at the bullsh*t that happens in our society. I was angry at the sadness I felt for things out of my control. I didn’t do anything irrational, and I didn’t take it out on anyone. It felt like I’d pulled the positivity and denial plug from my heart and what resulted was a volcanic explosion of random things that I had bottled up or suppressed.

I needed it. I was tired of being brave, being optimistic, of trying to be strong all the time. In that moment, I was free of the expectations I had imposed on myself. And with a “stuff it” attitude, this belief was exposed:

The belief that I need to suck it up and be positive all the damn time.

And that was my problem right there.

This was an expectation I had continued to impose on myself that I had adopted from a young age. It hindered me from being my true self—all to save face. It felt like a concoction of always putting other people first, of being there for everyone else except myself, and my history of growing up in a particular church where I learned to be prim and proper even though I was screaming inside.

As a child, I smiled while I suffered in silence.

Questioning religion, media, and society:

As a follower of Christ and building my life on the foundation of love, I thought I wasn’t allowed to feel anger. But if I can’t feel what I feel, how is this being honest? Is this really what Christianity and spirituality is about? Suppression—which can turn into oppression? Isn’t it counter-intuitive to being of moral character? And how can people love and see the real Anjelica when I’m denying parts of myself that I think are ugly?

Why had I believed for so long that anger was evil when it’s a part of the emotion rainbow? Why did I think something was wrong with me if I felt anything less than joy or positivity? Didn’t Jesus get angry? Whoa.

Positivity on the daily? Nah.

The thing is, even if we didn’t grow up in church or have those beliefs imprinted on us from a young age, we are faced with images and messages daily about positivity and happiness. We are bombarded with this picture-perfect lifestyle. We can’t exactly blame media or any other avenue for this—it’s only heightened the problem that was there long before I was born. This false façade and dismissal of what we feel diseases our community.

To throw the blame around only sets us back. Allowing myself to be angry was a deliberate choice, but not a state I wanted to stay in for too long. Because when blame begins to erode the soul, then in flows bitterness. I wanted to be angry long enough to identify the issues and short enough to know that going forward, it’s up to me to change my perception on anger, as well as other various emotions I refused to experience.

Happiness and health aren’t about being positive all the time. I want to burst that bubble.

You can be healthy and happy even when you’re not pumping out positivity on the daily. Health is not exactly a destination either. It’s a state of mind and one that can change.

I believe part of being healthy (mentally, physically, and spiritually) is about being aware of what we truly feel. And not trying to push it aside or ignore what comes up. Sometimes simply acknowledging how we feel can lift the load and lead to an overall sense of wellness. Bottling up emotions can lead to further issues down the road. We’ve all had those moments where we either blew up or shut down (depending on how we deal with things). When we take the time to be aware and tune into ourselves regularly, we are less likely to let things build up inside.

Sometimes we just need to let go of things. Other times, our emotions are guiding us toward a change we need to make. We don’t need to react to all our emotions in the moment. We also don’t need to believe everything that pops into our head. Hormones can have a funny way of making you feel like the world’s ending. (Ovulation will do that to you!)

That is why mindfulness practices are highly beneficial, as they teach us to be aware rather than ignore, but also that we don’t need to make any decisions when emotions are high. It is okay to wait until we feel calm and collected, or have a sense of clarity about a situation before we move forward.

Some days, I feel a simple walk or prayer helps to release any stressors or worries. Other times I need to pray, journal, and take time to really listen in because what is bothering me may be a little deeper. It’s taken time to be able to distinguish the difference. This will come with practice.

Be more human:

You are not a burden for sharing what you feel. Unfortunately, not everyone will be there for you. Some may dismiss you. Even in my worst state, few wanted to listen. If you don’t feel comfortable opening up to others, start by being honest with yourself. There are times when I really do need to talk to someone but I don’t want to air my personal business to people I know. Seeing a psychologist or counsellor has been incredibly helpful—just a session here and there can make all the difference.

We need to remember that part of being human is experiencing painful seasons. We can still be hopeful, faithful, and optimistic and at the same time honest with what we feel. Even if it’s anger. This is not about picking up a pessimistic attitude and becoming the Grinch. Just sayin’.

Going through life thinking it has to be rosy and “positive vibes” all the time may not be authentic or realistic. In some ways, it can set us up for failure and shallow relationships. If we experience pain and discomfort, we may feel something is wrong with us because the world is saying, “Hey, there’s no room for your less than positive vibes.” But that’s not true. By experiencing our emotions, and not being afraid of them, we are empowered. In fact, it shows utter strength to be able to dig deep and truly face what’s going on.

By avoiding anger, it grew. By feeling it, it was released.

I think it’s important we change the message our society presents about positivity and happiness. A healthy life is not one without anger. To be healthy, I believe it’s about embracing the highs and lows—knowing very well that they shape our lives.

My season of anger resulted in feeling more carefree, open, and honest. Isn’t that interesting? I feel more like myself and lighter in my spirit. When I finally stopped pretending I was okay and admitted I was feeling anger, it opened the path to recovery and learning the lessons life was presenting me at that time. It aided in forgiveness and developing compassion toward myself and others.

Tips for those painful seasons:

>> Talk it out—with a friend, family member, psychologist, someone who will listen.
>> Call a hotline or counseling service.
>> Journal and write it out.
>> Be patient with yourself.
>> Don’t expect everyone to be understanding, but don’t let that stop you from being you.
>> Listen to others.
>> Understand how difficult it is to be open so be patient with others who find it difficult.
>> Walk in nature to refuel a heavy spirit and release emotions.
>> Be creative—paint, take photos, move furniture around (oh, how I love this), make something.
>> Workout in a fun way (dancing to Afrobeats works wonders).
>> Listen to music that empowers you.
>> Listen to music that gets your anger out.
>> Go on group hikes.
>> Do something new and out of your comfort zone.
>> Look around at your life and remind yourself: it’s just a season.
>> Play with animals.
>> Hug it out.

What are your thoughts about being positive all the time in our society? Comment below.


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