Saturday, March 10, 2012

When Being Positive Isn't Enough

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I thought pretty seriously about whether or not to write about this subject, being that I highly promote positive thinking as the key to living a balanced life.  That said, its also not realistic to achieve this 100% of the time, unless you are either not human or incredibly gifted.  For some of us it might come easier than others, and one day might flow better than the previous.  Though I push for a good attitude everyday, I'm learning it's OK to allow feelings to come up such as sadness and anger, as long as I learn from it and move on.
Last night my husband and I attended a show we had tickets for.  I wasn't feeling 100% but didn't want to cancel.  After the show I got this overwhelming feeling of sadness, wanting to go out for desert and wine, when I normally order tea instead (knowing of course I will feel better for it).   This time, all I could think about was how unfair life was and "why me" ran circles in my head.  After fighting back tears and forcing a smile, my husband looked over at me and said, "It's OK to cry."  Well, those four words were all it took.  All of the frustrations poured out and instead of feeling bad about it, I just let it happen.  After a much needed release I desperately wanted to let my mind go.  Despite being late, cold and pouring rain, we hopped in the car, turned on some music and went for a long drive into the hills and around the lake.  I let the music and the scenery fill my mind, not thinking about anything else.

Once home and under a warm, cozy blanket, I was ready for the positive to take over again.  Looking for some guidance I opened a book titled A Lamp in the Darkness, by Jack Kornfield.  

"You should never underestimate your power to heal when you step toward difficulty with courage and love, when you touch pain with healing rather than fear.  Our healing comes with our own kind attention and through the kind embrace of others. 

Being courageous doesn't always mean putting on a smile, nor does it indicate how strong we are.  Part of loving and giving kind attention to ourselves might just be facing our fears, dealing with them and finding release.

I encourage you to find ways to allow these feelings to surface.  Whether it be through a short crying session, a daily journal, the embrace of a loved one, or working with a qualified counselor.

Though I do my best to manage a self-care plan and most of the time feel good from it, I still have a few tough days here and there.  I've chosen to share my personal experiences as a way to show we are all human, and the benefit we can get from remembering this.


  1. I recently read How to Be Sick by Toni Bernhard because I've been having a very difficult time dealing with the totality of my Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, including the gastroparesis. It has a lot of practices for dealing with the range of painful emotions that go with chronic illness. I found it tremendously helpful for treating myself more kindly when my symptoms are bad, and for wasting time and hurting myself by resenting my illness. The author recommended Kornfield's works, so I'll probably pick this one up next. Thank you for this post.

  2. Hi Nat,
    Thanks for sharing. I hadn't heard of that book and looked it up, sounds fantastic! Going to order very soon and add to my recommendations. I have a book titled "You Don't Look Sick, Living Well with Invisible Chronic Illness," which sounds a bit similar. Resenting illness just takes us backwards when moving forward is so important, even if challenging at times. I was not familiar with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome before and my heart goes out to you. It sounds like you do your best to have a good attitude and find ways to cope. Kornfield is really inspiring and hope you get a chance to read him soon. Stay strong and keep reaching out for support in whatever way you can find it.