Thursday, 19 December 2013


This blog will be a bit more "all about me" than usual. It's not something I write about a lot because other things are more interesting, but I'm not exactly shy either so I'm quite capable of it. And in any case it's in response to a question that asked about individual ways of dealing with something, so here's mine.

The question was in reference to positive thinking and all that goes with it, including people who are fake. I gave a short answer, and I'll copy it here:

There is a balance. It is possible to resist the urge to "vent" all the time, without being fake. But it's possible that, 1) upbringing/culture makes a difference, 2) basic personality makes a difference, 3) life experience makes a difference. 

often it is possible to analyse an experience (quickly) by choosing to look at the positives, and brush off the negatives. Simple example, if I were snowed in, I could complain about it, or I could enjoy it, because it means I don't have to run errands. Most things in life have a good side and a bad side, both need to be acknowledged, but it is a choice as to which one we dwell on.

But this isn't really the whole of it. So I'll expand.

I do, absolutely, believe that life is what you make it. That is why a positive attitude makes life better. If you are constantly pessimistic, quite apart from any effect that has on events, it means you are not as cheerful as you might otherwise be. I like being cheerful. I prefer it. Therefore, I will behave in a way that improves my cheerfulness.

I don't believe in "fake it 'til you make it." I understand that it works for some people, and all power to them, but I am no good at self-delusion. If I am not happy, if I am not positive, there's a reason for it, and I neither wish to pretend, nor can I.

Yes, these two positions can work together, in fact they work together just fine. It's called balance. It's called reality.

I further believe that while attitude is a conscious choice, it is influenced heavily by what we are taught, what we have experienced, and so on. I was raised believing that being cheerful and positive was beneficial, not just to myself, but to everyone around me, and I've never found this to be incorrect. Therefore I stick with it.

There is a benefit involved in every choice we make. Some people find benefits in being negative, even in being extremely negative, or even self-destructive. Maybe it gets them attention, which they enjoy, maybe it gives them excuses for their "bad luck," whatever it is, they see it as a benefit so they continue with it. Their choice, not mine.

On the other hand some people get benefits from being fake, or from being frivolous, so that there is zero negativity. They never take anything seriously, and they never worry about anything at all. This can include staying solvent and keeping promises, however. Presumably this works for them. Again, that's their choice, but it's not mine.

The choice to lean towards the negative, or to be fake or frivolous sometimes impacts me, however, and this is when I can no longer shrug it off. If somebody is grumpy and as a result they are rude to me, or simply create a bad atmosphere, I may not be very tolerant about it. If an ultra carefree person is also ultra unreliable I soon lose interest in their presence in my life. Simple cause and effect.

And this is because I believe that it is all largely choice. Opinions differ on that of course. We will always hear "I can't help it." when a person is called out for their attitude, and it's very much a matter of opinion as to whether this is true.

Often it gets turned around, and around...we have frivolous people demanding that we lighten up if we object to their cavalier attitude to an injustice, for example, and ....issues be damned, we end up with attitude vs. attitude.

Bottom line is that I take a pragmatic approach. If I can affect events, I shall. If there is something I can do to change things for the better, then let me at it. If I can't, if there is nothing that can be done about it, then I may as well get on with it, because railing against it is a waste of energy.

Two examples.


The weather. It's no secret that I hate winter. Not going to pretend I enjoy it. Certainly not going to go to a lot of trouble to "make the best of it." Cold sucks. I find nothing good in it at all. Snow can be fun in certain circumstances but I'd be quite willing to miss out on that. So, that's my position on the weather.

BUT....there's no point whining about it, because it's not going to go away. The solution is to move to a hot climate, and one day I SHALL. Meantime, I mostly shut up, because no amount of negativity will improve the weather. It's a waste of time, energy, and the tolerance of others for me to drone on about how cold I am. I keep it to an absolute minimum, or if asked.

AND....I'm not very tolerant towards those who whine about it a lot, especially if:
1) They aren't actually obliged to be out in it much. Ask my husband about working outdoors for most of the winter, and then try whining at me, OR
2) These are the same people who whine all summer about being too hot.

So. Yeah. I'm cold too. Suck it up.


Global climate change. While others fight over how much impact humans are having, or what the implications will be, I see two groups whose attitudes I don't share.

Group 1 are agonizing over what is going to happen. Probably not sleeping at night. Some may be driven to suicide for all I know. They aren't scientists, nor leaders with any power to do anything it, so they feel pretty powerless, and their reaction to this powerlessness is angst.

Group 2 don't give a shit. They wouldn't lift a finger to prevent a worsening of the situation, and they certainly have no intention of trying to help, if anything they are busy contributing to it.

I care. I care deeply. But until I am given full instructions on what to do to help, I shall keep calm and carry on.

We don't have to deny negative stuff. In fact if we do, if we pretend there are no problems, we add to them, so it's actually a harmful attitude. If we care, we don't have to stress over things, we can do whatever we can to help, and hope that others will do the same. Generally speaking, if enough of us care, and do what little we can to help, that is probably good enough.

In our own lives if we act instead of worry or whine, it tends to bring better results.

If I sometimes seem impatient with those who worry or whine AND not act, it's because I genuinely believe they are shooting themselves in the foot. And I see it a lot. Sometimes it exhasperates me.

Of course, I don't dismiss the value of complaint.

"If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it." - Zora Neale Hurston

Again, there is a balance.

If it gets results, it is not complaint at all, it is activism.

Whether you choose to tolerate a situation or not largely depends on which is easiest. Both tolerance and intolerance can be pro-active, they can be used to reach an objective, to achieve a greater good.

"The strong give up and move on, while the weak give up and stay."

So, ultimately I would say, if complaining works for you, go for it. If it makes your life better, then it is the logical choice. If it gets the desired results, if it creates opportunities, if it allows for clear thought, if it enables you to express yourself, then by definition it isn't actually negative. It's strategic.

But if it is self-defeating, if it makes a bad situation worse, if it affects your relationships, if it causes problems with employment or advancement therein, if it brings you's probably worth considering a different attitude.


  1. Shrug. How often can I say "yes, of course?"

  2. When I was in my 20's I was forced to go to psychiatrists/psychologists. Two different ones pointed out I always smiled even when I was speaking of some really bad things going on in my life. I was taught to always smile and go on. It nearly killed me then. Though I would love to be under 100lbs again I would never want to be in that place.
    When Malcolm was little I think I had a nervous break down. I kept trying to be fine with everything but I wasn't and it got to the point where I would just sit and cry for hours because I was tired and overwhelmed and needed help. Always smiling didn't help. There was another thing that I finally couldn't put up with anymore and when I finally stepped up and wouldn't stop complaining until things changed they did change for the much better.
    So now I don't smile if I am angry. I talk back. I tell my side which isn't always positive. And I don't think I have ever been so happy.
    I have both a neighbor and a former friend that I have come to discover are emotional vampires. But the odd thing is they don't seem negative. They are always positive to the point they will argue about how great it is that their roof fell in or the car engine blew up or something. But they are completely unreliable for even casual get- togethers and they are always needing help from people because they failed to plan ahead about things. And both of the people I know that are like this are in their 40's with families. Last night when I made the post I had finally decided to just give up on those people and ignore them. They will find someone else to save them when need be. After all they both just turn stuff over to God and he will make it okay. So next time they forget they need to pick their children up from school maybe God will do it. It is funny because people tell me I am a negative person, but my problem is that I have a hard time saying "NO".

    1. I'm no expert, but I would say that in your 20s, and when Malcom was tiny, you were depressed and something else (people pleasing) and your therapists weren't very good at their jobs.

      Now I would say you are much more yourself but still people pleasing. Only you can decide when you are ready to stop doing that.