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When Positive Thinking is Negative by Jill Armijo

Feeling How You Want

Do you know that you can feel however you want? No matter what someone else says or what circumstances happen in your life, your feelings are entirely up to you.

Doubtful? I know this statement brings up yeah, right thoughts of people pushing “positive thinking,” “affirmations,” and “gratitude.” You may disagree with me and say, “but how can I be happy when __________? (Fill in the blank: I got a divorce, lost my job, my husband has PTSD.)

But looking at your emotions that way implies that you always want to be happy. Do you really think it would be good to feel upbeat and sunny all the time? Would it make you more fun to be around, more supportive of others?

There are depth and fulfillment in a life that isn’t always giddy with joy. It’s supposed to be miserable some of the time.

Emotional health doesn’t mean always looking on the bright side or seeing the good in everything. It means being able to experience any emotion without thinking something has gone wrong.

When Feeling Bad is Good

If someone you love dies of cancer, is that a time to be carefree and laughing with glee? Should you try your hardest to see how her passing was “meant to be” or “for a good reason,” as I’ve heard well-meaning people offer?

You might be relieved and grateful if she had been suffering, and you believe that now she’s in a more pleasant stage of eternity.

Or you might be angry that you’re left to pick up the pieces or devastated that you’ll miss her terribly for the rest of your life.