Being someone with mental health issues, I’ve heard a lot of invalidating statements. Being someone who tries to be aware of other’s problems (but someone who is definitely not perfect at it and is still trying to to do), I have heard and seen a lot.
One of the most common things that I hear and see is people comparing the struggles of others. For example:
“You just need to be grateful.”
“Someone has it worse than you do.”
“Stop being so sensitive.”
“You need to work harder.”
“You’re not trying enough.”
I really hate what statements like these imply and assume: that the struggling person is not grateful because they are sad, that someone’s pains are gone upon knowing that someone else is in pain, that someone is bringing the hurt and pain to themselves unnecessarily, that someone hasn’t tried, or that the harder someone will work, the more likely they’ll overcome what they’re facing.
I can be grateful for what I have and still experience depression in feeling voids from loneliness and from the accumulation of awareness in knowing about others’ pains. In fact, I can be grateful that I am not in the situations of those less fortunate than me and feel unbearably upset that people face the horrible things done by the evil of this world.
I can still struggle with the sadness of severing a relationship with someone I care about while being aware that there are people who live in fear of losing their loved ones daily and experience unsafe situations that no human being should be subjected to.
My feelings are valid when I am hurt by someone disrespecting me or someone else, regardless of whether the intent of another person was different from the result of what they said or did.
I can still work extremely hard at fighting my demons, my intrusive thoughts from my OCD, and still have trouble finishing a task because of them. It doesn’t mean that I’m not trying. It doesn’t mean that I’m not working hard. It’s not my fault that my body physically locks up in a way that physically hurts.
When I make ten plus attempts to keep going with my salah prayers despite the mental and physical discomfort and pain, I am working and trying pretty damn hard.
The thing is, people who don’t experience what others are doing through don’t ever fully know what it feels like. Regardless, everyone has some kind of pain. Even if one person is not able to fully comprehend another’s pain, the person still should validate what that pain that they do not understand.
They should validate the other person.
It’s extremely ignorant to think that just because you aren’t going through something, someone else cannot be going through it.
Everyone is not you.
If you can’t empathize, then you’ve at least got to sympathize.
I consider myself to be a positive person who sees the glass to be half full. But sometimes, if not most times, the glass being half full doesn’t take away the fact that the glass is still half empty. It’s not a negative outlook, it’s not me choosing to be a negative Nancy– it’s just the fact of things. And this actually helps contribute to me being “positive,” even with my new mindset and all.
Seeing the glass half full doesn’t mean that the empty part just goes away. It means acknowledging that the empty part is there, but teaming up with the full part to fight the empty part. Statements like those examples I listed above promote the pretention that there is no empty part.
So as someone who is a “positive” person, positivity is not about running away from my problems or others’ problems or pretending like they don’t exist. Rather, it’s me choosing to have the courage to acknowledge that the negative aspects of life exist and me choosing to do my best to love myself and indulge myself in positivity as much as I can while working to fight the negativity.
Being positive entails fighting the negativity– not cowering from it and pretending that it doesn’t exist.
After all, positivity doesn’t exist without negativity.
If you truly want some negative aspect of life to be gone, then you have to acknowledge its existence. Otherwise, it’s going to continue looming and affect you in ways that hinder growth and awareness.
Indulging in an illusion can only get and individual or society so far, because reality will catch up with them.