After recovering from a traumatic early life and then experiencing the trauma of surviving neurological decompression illness and waves and waves of other trauma – I have been the biggest proponent of the power of positive thought.
Until recently. Until recently – when someone used the power of positive thought as a weapon to make me feel like a recent illness was my own fault – like I could have willed away a virus that took out 18 people around me. What’s worse was that I had to cancel two paying comedy shows…bah humbug.
I’d like to make a distinction here between “positive thought” and “poking people in the eye with positivity”.
It’s not really positive thought I have a problem with. It’s all the generalist bullshit that comes with it.
Sometimes it feels like society needs a “pill” for everything. A quick fix. A magical cure.
Often that doesn’t exist.
I still believe that positive thinking is powerful, life changing and important. But some people use the phrase “Stay positive” or “Think positive” as a weapon and this is where I take issue.
The irony is that social science has moved away from something called “positivism” or the notion that cause and effect is everything. So it’s interesting that some people still so desperately search for cause and effect often to the detriment of themselves and others.
“Stay positive and take care of yourself“. Yes of course! That will solve EVERYTHING! The notion of radical self care is quite frankly, a delusion and can be an act of victim blaming. Sometimes it becomes impossible to practice self care at the level these people think is possible – it’s a very privileged worldview indeed. Invariably, these are the people who have savings, property and people to support them – which for many Australians is simply not the case. For single parents, lower income earners, struggling families, those managing long term health problems, injuries or illnesses and a lot of the rest of us – the notion of taking time out for yoga, meditation, clean eating, copious amounts of immersion in nature, etc. etc. is a dubious one.
Here’s an alterative thought: instead of waving self-care and positive thinking at your friend that is struggling, why don’t you ask them if you can DO anything. Then do what they ask (within reason – last time I asked for total world domination of the comedy circuit and that clearly wasn’t possible). If you can’t help then find someone who will help and be on your way. Maybe then they might be able to take some time out for self care. I have awesome friends who do this and I do it in return – try it! It works.
So unless you’ll bring me a coffee, do my washing and help promote a comedy show while I am invested in downward dog…no. Just no.