The Damage of Positive Shame


I've been thinking a lot about the movement for positivity. Is it a good thing? I think so - I mean who doesn't want to be around positive energy and speak positivity into their lives?

But I think there is a lot of shame happening around being positive. Like if you speak your truth and you're honest about how you feel, then you're doing yourself a disservice. I heard two women talking in the bathroom last week and one was explaining how hard the past week had been for her and that she was hoping that the next week would be better because she wasn't sure how much more she could take. Her friend replied "You don't want to complain though. You need to stay positive and just look for all of the good that happened last week as well. Otherwise, you'll continue to get more of what you received."

This may be controversial, but I think that's pure BS.

Lately all over social media, I've seen even more positive shame. A woman shows her true feelings and others shun away at the thought of it. And I understand this for sure. Because to hold space for a woman who is letting herself fall apart means that you have the capacity to hold that same space for yourself.

And its so hard to let yourself fall apart. Fear, anxiety, trauma. So many things keep us from saying "I want to be okay, but right now I'm not."

So when we see or hear another woman honoring the part of her that isn't okay, we freak out and stop her - just like we'd do tor ourselves. We tell her "don't worry, just think positive thoughts" "just think about what you and don't focus on what's bothering you" "Don't be afraid, just own it and do it" or whatever other saying that we're offering to honestly be uplifting.

Because we all really want to uplift each other when we say those things to each other and to ourselves. But unfortunately, what we're doing is shutting up our voice. We're telling the part of us inside who is dying to tell someone how she feels and be honored and respected - it's not safe to come out.

This pattern recreates itself in our friendships, relationships, careers, with family, and in any situation in which you're being asked to show up as you are right now.

Now, I am in no way saying don't be positive. I'm not saying show up to work everyday and tell every co-worker how much you hate your job. I'm not saying don't tell your friend its going to be okay. But I think there is something to be said for being there with her - not in the hole with her - but allowing her to say how she really feels and own her voice. Let her feel safe speaking whats real to her. And then you both can help each other come back to whats real - the reality that yes - we have those feelings but we still have the power to change them. We can let these feelings go, and still have a good day - we don't have to be afraid that our feelings own us, we own them.

And we can be there for each other in the good and the not so good. Without shame.

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