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How Staying Positive Can Leave You Lonely

I am guessing that if you are taking the time to read this you're someone who is dedicated to creating healthy relationships.  Unfortunately sometimes good intentions can slide into stagnant "have to's".

A gem reader, let's call her Janna, wrote about trying to stay strong willed and positive at work.  She expressed feeling drained by taking responsibility for conversations and then feeling lonely longing for camaraderie.  I have a guess that in Janna's intent to create healthy relationships she slid into the stagnant pool of "must stay positive".

I have slid into this pool many times myself.  I can sometimes get caught in thinking I have to be a model of something positive rather than a human being.  I end up losing an authentic connection to feelings and needs and also begin to believe that others can't be there for my difficulties.  The more I imagine others can't be there for me, the less they tend to inquire about my feelings and needs, and so it spirals downward.

When it seems like you are doing all the work to stay positive, I encourage you to let some grumpiness show. Let those around you see your struggle and your needs.  It's hard for others to contribute to you when you are busy being "positive". Heck, raise your voice if that's where your energy is.  You can raise your voice without being violent if you are expressing your feelings and needs. Strong relationships aren't built on staying positive and being nice.  They are built on authenticity and caring.  That caring starts with attending to your needs as much as you attend to the needs of others.

This week do an experiment.  Pick a relationship and situation in which you will choose to express a yucky feeling, unmet need, and request.  Choose a person you had previously written off as someone who doesn't hear you.  Remember your request can be something simple like, "Am I making sense, can you tell me what you are getting from what I said?"

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4 Responses

  1. Apr 29, 2010
    Tam An Tran


    After reading this week's precious gem, I know myself that when people tell me how I should know better, etc. I find it difficult not to go easy on myself so that I can be genuine and not just 'nice' as Kelly Bryson, MFT writes about in his book "Don't Be Nice, Be Real." I, of couirse, refer to Mr. Jackal or the 'Educator' in me! I have a big tendency to become anxious and overreact if I am not careful, whenever such comments are made to me. I like it when people raise their voice in intensity to match mine because this shows they care and are not criticizing me!

    On the other hand, it has also been my experience that people can speak calmly and not raise their voice and yet it comes across as though I have done something very wrong. So, as you stated, it is important to raise our voices, yet in a compassionate manner that demonstrates we really care about and hear what the other person is feeling and needing.

    When we are in an emotional situation and are hurting, it sometimes does not matter how 'politely' or 'calmly' someone speaks to us, if the words come across as 'scolding us', etc. In answering a question, my spiritual Teacher told us to practice during meditation of visualizing the worse possible scenario and think of ways to deal with it compassionately and honestly. This way, when the real situation arises, we will more likely be able to respond in a compassionate and, thus, an effective manner.

    Thanks again. If think I will read your 'Gem of the Week' every week! Whether or not I can identify with it in terms of relating it to personal experience or not, does not matter. It may just mean that I will not comment or maybe I will?! I would want to hear comments and/or receive questions when i get around to doing something like this. I appreciate feedback and feel people do not care when I write and do not hear from them. Soooooooo....

    We all have our 'off' days and hopefully we can recognize that others to as well and take this into consideration when they raise their voices at us in a manner that does not show empathy.

    Tam Am

  2. Apr 30, 2010
    catherine seltzer

    This gem was exactly like what I was feeling today, being the person always trying to be positive and how lonely that felt at times. Thanks for the insight--it was just what I needed today!

  3. May 02, 2010

    WOW! It's May 2nd, I sure couldn've used this on Thursday, April 29. As they use to say "a day late, and a dollar short." New to NVC (non-violent communication) I have been feeling a day late and short, things are still gelling, taking form. I'm still "too authentic" not quite defining the critters in me. Am I being jackal or giraffe? Am I dogging (Being a dog) for my needs or crossing without realizing someone else's boundaries. Thanks to the twelve steps of recovery I am always one to make amends, I'd rather be sensitive enough not to have too though.

    I don't watch the news too often for purposes of emotional well-being but when stuck in a staff meeting and colleagues kill time by rehashing all the horrible goings on in the economy, politics and the like.. What's a giraffe to do? And my friends (mostly in recovery) are in the process of healing and growing spiritually. Yet more often than not when we aren't in a support type conversation that is vulnerable and grumpy and venting - "it's like - so what do the other people talk about?" Do these other people exist? What is it like?

    I want to build healthy friendships but new to all this, my past life is where I've usually been more of the listener, ponitificating once in a while, but usually the interviewer not the interviewee. I am working towards getting plugged into other circles - like Reiki, energy work, drumming circles.

    But as I complete my voyage to the "light side of the moon" I don't want to flee my recovery life-line. These people and the programs have been life saving and enhanced my spiritual growth. At some level I do love and respect them. But when conversations get uncomfortable, negative and soul suffocating what do I do?

    Thanks for listening. All suggestions are welcome and more than likely be considered!

  4. May 04, 2010

    Hi Lynne Hmm, sounds like the most important thing for you right now might be self-empathy. You can use these as opportunities to practice self-empathy. This will help with connecting expression down the road.

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