Life has thrown us a curve ball over here at the Work Life Balance Protection Agency. Our contributor, resident educator, and my personal-best-friend and support network has been sideswiped by another brain tumor. Work, life, emotions, being mostly a single parent, has turned into a management project rather than a balanced lifestyle. The stress, regardless of how well I think I’ve handled it, has started to eat away at my physical health–leaving me open to every stomach bug and ear ache that flies around town. I can’t even crock-pot* properly anymore!
Worst, has been the stress of remaining a positive force. How can I honestly face you all and give positive advice when I really feel like crawling in a hole? One more picture of a “hang in there” cat in a tree and I might hang myself!! Is it possible that the pressure to remain constantly positive actually causes stress?!
As it turns out, yes. Whew! That actually makes me feel a little better.
My inbox is filled with articles about how truly successful people thrive from failure, turn every negative turn into a million dollars, and lose 60 pounds in the process. Though I usually find these stories empowering, this week they seem like taunts. Each story piles on pressure to change my negative feelings into positive ones, learn something, connect to a greater part of myself. ENOUGH ALREADY!
An article by Srikumar Rao, PhD, in Psychology Today, that frankly took too much energy for me to read in its entirety, seemed to be saying this, “And if you never label something as bad, then you don’t need positive thinking and all of the stress associated with getting something bad and experiencing it as such till you figure out how to make lemonade out of it simply goes away.” If I never see the “lemon” as a bad thing, and just see it as a…er…lemon…then I never have to deal with all the pressure trying to figure out how to turn it into something “better.”
But what if what I feel really is bad, really is negative? Dr. Rao would say this: “Lets say you break your leg. There is stuff you have to do like go to an orthopedist and get it set and go to therapy when the cast comes off. But all the rest of the stuff [you think like] ‘Why did this have to happen to me?’…is simply baggage. You don’t have to pick up this load and the only reason you do is because you were never told that you didn’t have to.”
Just. move. forward.
Don’t be “positive.” Don’t agonize over trying to turn your negative feelings into something magical. Deal with whatever is in your lap the best you can. If you do anything “extra,” avoid letting all the future worries and past regrets let their ugly tentacles make your current situation more burdensome. Stay present. Move ahead. (And you don’t even have to smile if you don’t want to).
* I crock-pot when times are tough. Just toss stuff in and wait till it becomes something you can put over rice. I also use crock-pot as a verb.