“How are you still so positive?!” Many people ask me. By being negative, that’s how. No really – I’m serious!
I’ve found the best and most positive way to live through this is to hope for the best but always expect the worst. This came out most strongly when my doctors suspected I had multiple sclerosis. I accepted this, and in fact expected this which to some came across as me wanting it. The truth is I’ve well and truly accepted the fact that I could be sick the rest of my life and I am ok with that. It’s this acceptance which has allowed me to be as positive as I am about it all.
I believe that by thinking that this is all going to magically go away one day I am doing myself more harm than good. Of course I wish that this is nothing and that it will disappear overnight but that’s unrealistic. For me this is not positive thinking – it’s wishful thinking. Positive thinking is accepting things for what they are and learning how to be happy despite them.
When people tell me to “get well soon” I will normally respond with the fact that it is unlikely. This is not because I am being negative; it’s because I have come to terms with reality and don’t plan on sugar coating things for the sake of pleasantries. I am positive that I will have a great and happy future despite not being able to get well. I am positive that my life is not over, it is simply different. I am positive that I will be ok. I understand the need to comfort someone in my situation but “get well soon” is not that for me. Instead maybe say “I hope you find answers soon” or “I hope you have more good days than bad”.
I believe that thinking positive can change your life but I think the first step to living positively is accept the negative that you can’t change and work on being positive about it. By not accepting the negative in your life, you are reinforcing the idea that everything needs to be perfect which is a ridiculous and impossible ideal which will inevitably lead to disappointment. Instead of thinking about my illness, look at someone who has a shit car. They can keep telling themselves that one day they will own a better one despite not being able to afford it or they can accept it and be content and happy with what they have. My illness is the shit car, yes other people have better ones but if I focus on wanting something better then I forget how to be ok with what I have and ultimately that leads to more negative emotions.
I’d rather make the most of a shitty situation than waste time wanting things I can’t have. It’s much easier to be an upbeat and positive person when instead of wishing for better things, you just accept the bad and move on. So please don’t take my thinking I’m going to be sick forever, or that my diagnosis can take years as me being negative, or even as me wanting this to be true because, believe me – I do not want this, not in the slightest! I just accept it because it’s the only way to move on and be happy.
Basically, life isn’t meant to be all sunshine and roses so stop trying to eliminate bad stuff entirely. At the end of the day, that’s the stuff that builds our character and defines who we are. Embrace the bad, and learn to be positive despite it. Once you figure this out and throw away your traditional ideas of “positive thinking” you will be much better off.