October 22, 2022

My Name is Denise & I Am a Recovering Positivity-Holic.


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I have an addictive personality.

In this crazy but fun life I have lived, I have sobered up from drugs, alcohol, shopping, sex, and my favorite of all: sugar.

My addictions don’t tend to gravitate toward things that would benefit me, like exercise, meditation, or vegetables.

This turned out to be true of even my addiction to positivity, which one would think would fall into the category of addictions that would be good for me.

One of the hardest lessons to learn about recovering from anything is balance. And I don’t mean the fact that I can no longer stand on one leg for any amount of time. 

Another part of recovery is honesty—particularly honesty with yourself, so I need to follow up on my statement about balance by saying I never really could stand on one leg for any amount of time. But I digress…

Balance and honesty are essential to any good recovery program. 

My struggle with positivity began when I read the book The Secret, which was published in 2006, effectively making this the longest addiction I have struggled through. My mind was blown by the concept laid out in this book that my thoughts actually create my world. Some quotes that rocked my world were:

“Your thoughts become things.”

“If you are feeling good, remember it is because you are thinking good thoughts.”

“Remember that your thoughts are the primary cause of everything.” ~ Rhonda Byrne

Wow. This was truly a game changer! All I had to do was to think positive thoughts all the time and my life would be sunshine and roses? Okay! I was in!

And it actually worked—at least for a time. My good thoughts led me to a new church that taught me one of their guiding principles, “Thought in mind produce after their kind.”

I shared my revelation with my close friends, and before you could say “abundance,” we were spreading around our new mindset to anyone who would listen, preaching it from the table tops of local bars to the countertops of family gatherings.

And as all addictions do, my new positivity addiction morphed into something even more compelling. My positivity pushers turned me on to a little something called manifestation. Another mind-blowing wow! I was immediately strung out on the concept that not only did my positive thoughts make me happy, they could also create wonderful things in my life.

I manifested a dream job in Alaska, then another in Colorado, merely by believing that putting my thoughts out into the universe made it so. I discovered Abraham Hicks and their teachings of the possibilities found in the vortex of “feeling good.” I managed to not only live but thrive in this land of positive affirmations without any side effects or hangovers for quite a while.

Then I retired from my busy life and all its distractions.

My thoughts ran rampant, and it was impossible to keep them corralled any longer in a cage of positive euphoria. Coming down off that toxic positivity high was the worse withdrawal I had ever experienced. Every time I had a moment to just let my mind wander (and I had a lot of those moments…more like hours, days, weeks), the negative thoughts crept in. I lost faith in the basic principles of The Secret, and my happy vortex became a place of fear and regret.

I knew from past experience that I had to make some changes. Was there a rehabilitation program for this toxic positivity? Guess what? There was. Sort of.

I had to find the answers inside myself.

I started journaling and reading books written by brave people who had overcome my particular chasing of the dragon. Soon I was sharing my writings with others, and they were hearing me and seeing me and finding my words of benefit rather than merely positive. And I listened to their voices and found help and solace in their words.

Remember those basic principles of balance and honesty that I spoke of earlier? I learned there is a balance created where we can accept the good and the bad, the dark and the light, the positive and the negative. And we have to be honest with ourselves and others when we find ourselves in those dark, shadowy places (and no, I don’t mean hanging out with vampires) and embrace and live those moments as much as we do the times of celebration and joyfulness. 

One of the steps in my recovery program is to share quotes, affirmations, and poems that reflect the balance and honesty of allowing and acknowledging both the positive and the negative in our lives. I hope you find these useful.

“When people say, ‘We have made it through worse before,’ all I hear is the wind slapping against the gravestones of those who did not make it, those who did not survive to see the confetti fall from the sky, those who did not live to watch the parade roll down the street. I have grown accustomed to a lifetime of aphorisms meant to assuage my fears, pithy sayings meant to convey that everything ends up fine in the end. There is no solace in rearranging language to make a different word tell the same lie. Sometimes the moral arc of the universe does not bend in a direction that will comfort us. Sometimes it bends in ways we don’t expect and there are people who fall off in the process. Please, dear reader, do not say I am hopeless, I believe there is a better future to fight for, I simply accept the possibility that I may not live to see it. I have grown weary of telling myself lies that I might one day begin to believe. We are not all left standing after the war has ended. Some of us have become ghosts by the time the dust has settled.” ~ Clint Smith

“Hope confronts. It does not ignore pain, agony, or injustice. It is not a saccharine optimism that refuses to see, face, or grapple with the wretchedness of reality. You can’t have hope without despair, because hope is a response. Hope is the active conviction that despair will never have the last word.” ~ Corey Booker

“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.” ~ Dolly Parton


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