Is it possible to turn the phrase “have a positive attitude” into a negative?
A positive attitude is better for you than a negative attitude. You would be hard pressed to find someone who disagrees with that statement. It’s just common sense. But it is possible to twist that concept into something harmful.
There is someone in my life who is newly diagnosed with a condition that will require follow-up care for the rest of her life, and may or may not lead to some disability. She is a person who generally has a positive outlook on life, strong of will and of character, but she already feels the pressure to maintain a positive attitude for those around her.
“I don’t want to be a hero,” she told me. “I don’t want to have to put on a happy face all the time to please everyone else.”
My own positive attitude comes naturally. Not that I don’t have my moments, like when my mutinous body will not cooperate and my patience wears thin, but I usually manage to keep those moments private and short-lived.
Thinking back to my own example, I wonder if, by keeping my bad moments private, I have contributed to the pressure to keep up appearances and if by putting my best face forward, I’ve given the impression that I’m always full of sunshine and roses.
Sometimes the positive attitude patrol functions as a guilt trip in disguise. Are they really promoting a positive attitude in the best interest of someone else… or is it a lopsided attempt to protect themselves from having to deal with someone else’s disease or disability? Keep up the positive attitude because I can’t deal with your problems. Do people with health concerns have a responsibility to people around them… to protect them from dealing with the uncomfortable?