I’m sure you’ve heard it before. I know I have many times. Someone asks how you’re holding up and instead of that false “I’m fine”, you decide to open up, only to receive the dreaded response, “well you just have to think positive.” Uggghhhh barf…. puke…. logically, this response is true, maybe even helpful if used in the right set of words. However, most of the time, I hear this rehearsed response and it just goes right over my head and into the trash can of other stupid phrases like “just be happy” and “keep your chin up” and “God always has a plan” and oh that lovely “I’ll keep you in my prayers.”
Now I know we all have a share of suffering in this world. I don’t deny you’ve have a rough existence. However, I feel people are so quick to throw out these meaningless phrases to those who are suffering without really seeing them or listening to them. People open up to us and we just hash out these phrases like they are the ultimate answer. Sometimes, there are no answers. Sometimes, there would never be a response to calm someone down or make everything okay again. Sometimes, the best a person can do is listen and receive. Sometimes, the best response (if I really had to think of one), is “I will never claim to know what you’re going through, but I know pain and darkness, and I see you. You are not alone.”
So back to thinking positive, instead of telling someone to simply change their thought process, how about responding in a manner that initiates a cycle of positive thinking? You say I should think positive, but how? However, when I go to counseling, my counselor never just tells me to “think positive.” She listens to me. She doesn’t try to match suffering like it’s some huge competition of who suffers most. She just sees me and acknowledges my suffering and makes me think of ways to be present and have gratitude in the midst of sucky situations. After leaving those appointments, something changes, if even for a little while. I start having this feeling of hope. I don’t feel as isolated. I actually smile and it’s not a mask. I find myself laughing at things and just enjoying the present moment. This, right here, creates positive thinking.
Everyone’s needs are different, but for me, having people who actually empathize with my situation helps much more than someone spitting out a “quick fix” method for depression/anxiety/chronic pain/child abuse/etc etc etc. So if you’re in a shitty situation, I just want you to know that, while physically, you may indeed be alone, you are not. You have my support and encouragement. If you ever need someone to talk to or vent to, I’m always open. I do not have all of the answers unfortunately, but I do have a heart for people who hurt.