Good evening! Is it? Maybe, maybe not. But with a positive mental attitude, it definitely will be. You choose your mood, you choose to have a good day, you make things happen. And some days you do, but other days, you don’t. I follow lots of people on social media, and many of them are to do with food, fitness and well-being. They frequently contain motivational messages about how to feel good about yourself, to motivate yourself, and often give the impression that the person sending the messages lives a charmed life, and always, always, always get that workout in #noexcuses. But, of course they don’t, not all the time. But that’s ok, because you can just choose to be positive and focus on the good- just be fucking grateful to be alive for fucks sake! #soblessed. #winning.
But, you know what, not everything in life is a choice. Sometimes shitty things happen, and what really pisses me off (pmo) about these pma (positive mental attitude) messages, is that they can shut down conversations, shut down emotional honesty and shut down a person’s ability to ask for help, to admit that things are shit, and they feel shit, and a fucking HIIT workout is not going to solve their fucking problems. Nor is eating an avocado, unless your problem is you are really craving guacamole.
Why? Because saying that all of your emotional experience is a choice, invalidates feeling negative, it makes feeling upset, angry or anxious something you have chosen, not a reasonable reaction to a fucked up situation, or an extremely stressful life event, or even just a shitty disappointing day because they just happen sometimes. By making emotions a choice, we make people who are feeling shit feel even shitter. And also they make me feel like punching you in the face, and screaming, feel good about that you self- satisfied prick. Instead of acknowledging that sometimes it is alright to feel unhappy, we tell people it is their choice they are feeling unhappy. So what needs to change? Not the situation, but the person. Individualising happiness and making it something we simply have to pick off the shelf of our emotional range like that sparkly top from the rack in H&M, means that feeling bad makes us feel bad for feeling bad. That is not helpful. In fact, it can end up being downright dangerous. Culturally conditioned to present a positive face to the world, when we feel we can’t, we might get stuck inside our own heads instead of being able to say- you know what, things are all a bit shit.
Some days you do get out of the wrong side of the bed, as my mum used to say, along with other helpful phrases like, were you born in a barn, and don’t just stand there like one of Lewis’s. And maybe you can focus on the good, eat a healthy breakfast, practise yoga in the sunshine and list the great things about being you before bouncing out to the day like Tigger on crack. But maybe some days you can’t. Being Tigger on crack takes a fuckton of energy and if your energy is sapped by things going on around you, maybe you just scrape yourself out of bed, drink some coffee, prop your eyes open with matchsticks and promise yourself if you make it through the day you can definitely drink all the gin/eat all the chocolate while sitting on the sofa in your fat pants with tears rolling down your face. And if anybody even says something about yoga, a positive mental attitude or looking on the bright side, you have permission to fuck them up. Like really fuck them up. Or just say ‘fine’ when they ask how you are. Whatever feels right in the moment.
What I am trying to say, is that your feelings are for you. They need to be examined, they need to be considered and if the voice in your head has a one sided nasty view of everything you do, then you don’t need to listen to it. But nor do you always have to listen to the pma messages about deciding to have a good day. It is alright to feel fucked up, angry, upset and anxious. Many of these emotions a safety valve, a trigger to ourselves that something needs to change, but not necessarily the emotion in that moment. We need to listen to those emotions and sometimes we need to let them happen, or we become out of touch with what we feel and why. We lose emotional honesty and ultimately intimacy because we feel obliged to choose happy. And that really pisses me off.