There is a whole culture of positivity, choosing our reactions, responses, etc. I am in a love/hate relationship with it for many reasons.
On paper, it sounds great. I'm a fan of finding the silver lining, looking on the bright side, learning lessons, and on and on. And I agree with so many of the ideas, because we can use positive thinking to comfort ourselves, soothe ourselves, recover from trauma, avoid making things worse or inviting more drama and these are all pretty good results. One negative result I have also experienced is self-judgment or criticism from peers or friends. The lecture (whether from others who mean well or my own self) is the worst wagging finger, self-righteous, annoying and unsympathetic response to an emotional flare with negative connotations. Sometimes, it would be nice to be able to release emotion rather than stifle or swallow or minimize...and it would be even better if it was allowed to flow out without being judged immediately, or accused of indulging negativity.
Parsing this is a work in progress. I see virtue in not wallowing in misery or inviting more misery through self-fulfilling self-sabotaging negative thought patterns. I get that we attract what we focus on, and we need to build habits of gratitude and kindness and be solution oriented.
rah fucking rah.
But when bad shit happens, looking on the bright side is just another drug to numb the pain, and being pathological about being positive seems like an insane response in the face of tragedy or adversity. Nor is it okay to me to just dismiss all emotional responseif it is out of our control. "When we can't control circumstances, we can still control our reaction to them, it's a choice how we respond." I say bullshit. The only way you have control of your response is a sociopathic detachment either from your own emotions or your fellow humans or both. We have an emotional response. Period. Then we can accept it or judge it or try to councel our way to a new and potentially less painful understanding. But we cannot control our response. All we can hope to do is learn to not give in to a knee jerk response by filtering what we say. And we do that to protect ourselves and our fellow humans, which is mostly still in service to protecting our ego and self-image.
I'm on board. Really and truly. But don't let's pretend that the goal is detachment or a pollyanna perpetual fake smile plastered on our faces when shit hits the fan. Neither of those is healthy, in my opinion, nor sustainable.
I studied stoicism in college, and as a highly empathic person the idea of detaching sounded like heaven to me, and I tried it for a while, unsuccessfully. There must be a balance between falling victim to the storm of human emotion like a boat without a rudder/paddle/sail or being trapped in a fortress of solitude.
Someday I will find a good balance, but I'm not willing to pretend that only focusing on my response to things and force-feeding myself affirmations all day long is enough of a solution. I might go one step further and say I'm not sure the response is what needs managing/fixing/yadayada. Maybe it's the judgment of self and others. As I said, I'm still parsing and wrestling my thoughts on this whole topic.
Thank you for visiting!
The Double Meaning behind the blog title 'Dream Follower:'
First, for 14 years I was a ballroom & social dance instructor, and have studied both leading and following. I feel that learning to follow is full of nuance and is often misunderstood. I made it one of my personal goals to become a really excellent follow on the dance floor, and will probably talk a lot about the art of following - both in and out of the context of dance.
Second, I am a huge fan of author Michael Ende, probably best known for The Neverending Story. The book is incredible, and the first film captured some of the essence. (Please don't watch the other two films...I urge you to read the book though!) Anyway, at least twice in my life I have been caught in a storm of my own indecision, and my inner Moon Princess yelled to my inner Bastian...'Why don't you do what you dream?' I tear up even now as I write this little blurb. The tension between being practical, keeping my feet on the ground and my head out of the clouds (at the risk of compromising my inner vibrancy, true self, and who knows what else)...and reaching for my true dreams (at the risk of losing everything) is still a very real struggle. In fact, one of those struggles lead to my 14 years of teaching dance, so we can see which voice won the battle that fateful day when I was staring at the want-ad...
And so I strive to be two kinds of Dream Followers in my life. One has to do with connecting with others, and the other has to do with connecting with my inner Moon Princess and the world of possibility that opens when I do...