Are You A Positive Person?



We’ve all heard the sayings designed to promote a positive outlook in the face of life’s bumps in the road. “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” “If life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” “You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control your response.” I once believed I should put my negative feelings aside, smiling through any negative situation.

In the 1980’s, while working for a company that espoused a lot of new age thought, I was spoon fed those sayings with the caveat that any negative feelings would not be tolerated.  Every single employee was sent to a weekend of training to help rid us of the negatives preventing true success. If we quashed all the negativity in our lives, thinking nothing but positive thoughts, good karma would surely come our way. The company would benefit.

The problem occurred when we ignored negativity including gut feelings about certain projects. Then when the project didn’t turn out as expected, we continued to smile through the ruins, sometimes throwing good money after bad.

Aging and life experience brought on a new perspective — I believe it’s a lot healthier to acknowledge your negative feelings. (I also believe the definition of success is personal and not necessarily tied to money.)  While we can gain a lot by being optimistic about life, the truth is bad things happen to every one of us. No one is immune regardless of how positive they may be. Bad karma has a way of showing up.

Negative feelings serve a purpose from warning us that a situation is possibly detrimental for us to grieving over a bad situation in order to move on from it. It is not only o.k. to grieve, to rant, to feel down, it is part of the healing process. It’s also o.k. to question why you feel negative about a situation and listen to your gut instead of just your head.

People often call me positive or optimistic. Believe me I have my share of negative moments.  The idea of going around acting like ‘Little Mary Sunshine’ when you are dying inside is putting on an act to the world. It’s like fake news.

What I learned about myself is that pushing the negative feelings down caused them to eventually erupt in a ball of fire. Better to extinguish them when they are just a tiny flicker. Better for me and better for everyone around me.  Meditation or the ear of a good friend help me deal with the negatives and dispel them.

The only thing we can count on in life is change. Sometimes it’s good change; sometimes it’s neutral; sometimes it’s negative. Being open to change and acknowledging our negative feelings helps us come to grips with whatever the situation. Listening to our negative voice may also save us from a bad situation altogether.

While I still try to make lemonade when life hands me lemons, I also take a big sour bite of whatever is gnawing at me. Then I add the sugar and move on.

15 comments on “Are You A Positive Person?

  1. I totally agree that we have to acknowledge our negative feelings and not pretend they don’t exist. I have a friend who is a real “little Mary Sunshine”, and frankly, it drives me nuts! I am an expert in making lemonade out of the lemons that life can give, but this friend won’t agree that there are any lemons! Let’s face it – sometimes things suck. Like Jan. 20, 2017, for example. But we have to move on. We have to do the best we can under difficult circumstances.


    • I have known people like that as well. I worked with a woman who was like that until the day she had a nervous breakdown at work…one of the reasons I started letting my negative feelings out. It can be unhealthy to keep a lid on it.


  2. Thanks for another great post. Experiencing and acknowledging the full range of emotions makes each of us human. When we deny normal emotions and reactions, like negativity, anxiety, or anger, we deny aspects of ourselves. I try not to wallow in the negative emotions but I do acknowledge them and then work hard to move on.


  3. I totally agree! Emotional monitoring this year has been helpful in actually making me a more positive person overall. Not because I’m always Miss Sunshine – nobody would ever call me that! – but because I’ve learned to label the negative feelings which helps me deal with them more directly. So, over the last two weeks, I was able to say I was angry and then discouraged and then feeling guilty and then feeling overwhelmed. Each is a different negative feeling and I needed to deal with them differently. I’m still uncertain, which is still not on the positive end of the spectrum, but more positive than before. And I guess some hopeful thrown in – hopeful I’ll get back to enthusiasm and empowerment and joy. But that move along the spectrum has taken work, and felt healing, too. Not bottling them up, but dealing with them.


  4. I agree it is mentally healthy to acknowledge all our feelings. Even in the grieving process, we may experience denial, anger, sadness, all of which we have to go through on the way to learning to live without our loved one. Also, we do experience hurt from others at some point in our lives. If that person is someone with whom we want to continue a relationship, we have to find a way to let the person know what they did or said was hurtful, without having it fester and blow up. So thank you for writing your mentally healthy blog for us. Joy


  5. This is well said and resonates with me on a very emotional level! I once told a therapist once that I wish I could let things go like others. (Not the insignificant things, those that really matter because they impact my future). I’ll never forget her response. “Look at the lives of those that sit in silence when they WANT to speak up, and notice how that simple action of keeping silent is impacting their lives, especially in the area of health. I have never made that statement again! Now I speak up after thinking about if something needs to said, and if I need to be the person to see it. Especially at work.


  6. Reblogged this on juantetcts and commented:
    I resonated with this blog and it brought up a wealth of emotions I wasn’t expecting! I literally could have written it verbatim! Another true testament of how suffering in silence just doesn’t work for everyone!


  7. Yup….we all get at least one bag of sh…t in this life…sometimes more….it’s what you do with it….wallow around …or make compost for….well whatever….I’ve found over time that it’s the grudges that we hug close over time that explode….so, let go….and go on to the next project, problem, celebration, meditation….


  8. Hi Kathy, Thank you once again for your insightful and validating article! I agree it doesn’t work to pretend everything is “just fine” when it isn’t! The stress of avoiding feelings was known to make me ill years ago.
    Now I work at balancing my feelings about the hard events going on, at times, versus having a positive attitude with hope and faith. There have been times(like grieving the loss of my sister) when despair seemed to overshadow the good things about my life. However keeping a gratitude journal and finding small examples of what I could be thankful for, reaching out to friends, and recalling how I found my way through other painful events in my past, were some of the positives I could muster for that difficult time. I suppose it can be very positive to just know you can make it through whatever the hard situation is.
    Also I think it has been a positive that with age and hopefully more experience and wisdom, I have learned what the resources are that work best for me through hard times, like writing in a journal, talking to supportive people and faith practices. Blessings, Melody


  9. I agree that you have to be in touch with what you call “negative” feelings. However, I call those feelings “reality”. Feeling positive is often NOT being realistic.


  10. I believe people tend to do this on Facebook and other Instagram and other social media. It’s a forum to show everyone how great things are going in your life… Not sure all the posts reflect how life is really going for some.


  11. In a 1980 article called “Maternal Thinking,” the feminist philosopher Sara Ruddick contrasted the virtue of clear-eyed optimism with the vice of cheery denial. It sounds like cheery denial was what your workplace meant by “positivity.” I think true optimism is grounded in reality; it acknowledges problems and their negative effects and then looks for a positive way to move forward.


  12. Yes – those gut negative feelings can keep you out of trouble and like you said – stop throwing good money after bad ideas. As the world speeds up, I am learning to slow down.


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