And blue skies of promise opened before us
There in her eyes are the dreams of the world.
Blue skies of promise rained down upon us,
Life is so sweet with a strawberry girl.
Blackmore's Night - Strawberry Girl
I almost feel bad for using that song as a title for this post because I'm quite fond of it, but when trying to think of something saccharine it was the reference my mind conjured up. Sorry Blackmore's Night.
If you inhabit the internet to any degree whatsoever (and I'm rather pleased you do, because it means you can read this) you will no doubt have come across the idea that "positive thinking" fixes just about everything. All your upsets and triumphs are a product solely of the way you look at the world. It's somewhat akin to making your own luck and the "law" if you will that people with positive attitudes attract positive situations.
I'm writing this because I want to illustrate the difference between the sort of positivity I talk about on TRB - essentially, if you can laugh or cry at your situation then you may as well laugh - and the above. I was falsely flung into the latter category recently and said mistake really made me look at the problems with the assumption that a positive attitude will solve all your problems. As such, I ultimately want to clarify that I'm very much not on board with such an idea.
What I mean when I speak of being positive is literally that - when neither positive or negative approaches or views will change the situation, to me it seems better to go with the positive side if you can. It's less stressful and toxic on the body. I don't for a second mean you should be unrealistically happy go lucky and carefree at all times. That's ridiculous.
(Well put, he of the cunning hat. Image from elliedi.com)
In my own situation Petunia, Her Most Tempestuous Majesty, is going to be just that no matter what I do. It helps me to find as much humour in the situation as I can. That approach may not work for everyone and I'm certainly not saying you should be going along with it if it doesn't suit you. If you find it difficult to laugh at your situation, that doesn't make you a bad person. I'm not "right" with my approach any more than you are "wrong" in a general sense - it's about what is right or wrong for you specifically and hang what anyone else says or thinks.
The "fix all" positive thinking however doesn't allow for those personal differences of mood and outlook and a person's overall nature. What makes me most uncomfortable about it is the unspoken suggestion behind it that you are in some way responsible for your own problems if you don't adopt such an approach. In short, do it our way or not at all.
Also, lets just stop for a second and consider logic. If you're a subscriber to this sort of thing, I direct this question at you - do you really believe just "thinking happy" is going to cure an illness? If you do, I humbly suggest you go study the basics of human biology and pathology and be quiet until you have done so.
An unrealistically positive outlook is never going to cure the incurable. If it did, there'd be no ill people. We'd have eradicated cancer, HIV, malaria, meningitis, leprosy and all the rest of the deadliest diseases on our planet many years ago. We'd be sorting out the little niggles like the common cold and hayfever by this point. While we're at this extreme positivity lark, how about we beat death too? It's all a matter of thought, don't you know.
It's not just this fairytale-like refusal to accept reality that's the problem though. There's a deeper and darker unspoken assumption behind the "positive thinking attracts positive experiences" mantra. I doubt all of those who parrot this insanity have recognised it, but I have.
There's an apportioning of blame lurking in the background there. Surely if all it takes is an aura of smiling superiority, then those of us whose lives are not sparkly and perfect are surely responsible for our own misfortune? Those patients out there with a myriad of chronic illnesses like myself, we're all perfectly capable of thinking ourselves better and so surely we're "choosing" to be ill?
(This seems remarkably relevant. Image from vampirediaries.wikia.com)
As I said above, a study in mind-numbing stupidity.
I don't have an answer for why chronic illnesses exist and what causes them - I'm not a doctor. Come to think of it, no doctor I've met so far knows why either. I do however know what the cause is not, and the fault definitely does not lie with patients themselves. Some of the most cheerful and inspiringly positive people I've had the pleasure of meeting are sufferers of anything from chronic pain to cancer. If people like them can succumb, then so can anyone else.
I realise illness and a hopeless lack of a cure is an uncomfortable and difficult concept for anyone, but wrapping the concept in a neat little box and then hiding it from view will not make it go away. All us patients will still be there, and we'll still be pretty annoyed with your insidious suggestion that it's all our fault.
On a more amusing note though, I'd love someone to put the idea to Her Majesty that she's an impotent by-product of a thought process outside of her control. She'd love that.
Wishing you all many spoons xxx