Photo Credit: Pixabay
Photo Credit: Pixabay

I don’t personally know every single person that reads my blog, but if you’re reading this, I can bet that at some point in your life, or most likely numerous times in your life, you’ve experienced being told to ‘cheer up’, ‘look for the silver lining’, or ‘think of all those that in a much worse off position that you are’. And you’ve probably echoed those same words to someone else.

If it’s not in person, then it’s social media that’s flooded with positive quotes, such as ‘good vibes only’, ‘you’ll never have a positive life with a negative outlook’, or ‘write a list of things you’re grateful for today #blessed #gratitude #gratefulididntrunanyoneovertoday’.

These suggestions or pieces of advice, whatever you’d like to call them, are well-intended, but here’s the thing: in the same way telling an angry person to calm down has never worked in the entire history of human life, telling someone who’s having a rubbish day or is going through a rough time to cheer up, isn’t really helpful.

“I’ve just lost my job and I don’t know how I’m going to pay the bills.” “At least you don’t have to go to work tomorrow - every cloud has a silver lining!”

“I’ve been feeling so low recently, I just feel like crying all the time.” “How can you feel low? You have a lovely house, a big family, a good job; think of all the things you’re grateful for!”

“I’ve split up with my long-term partner and I’m struggling to cope without them.” “Cheer up, you just need to pick yourself up and dust yourself off!”

Unfortunately, as much as I wish it did, it just doesn’t work like that. If it did, counsellors and therapists would have discovered the easiest source of income known to mankind.

Now I’m not saying there isn’t a place for positivity, of course there is; it can be beneficial, and it certainly has its place in day-to-day life.

But the truth is, sometimes it's helpful to just have a good old pity party.

My point is that we need to learn to deal with our whole range of emotions rather than rushing to brush the ‘negative’ emotions under the carpet with a positivity broom. If someone is in a situation where they’re not in a good place and we continue to pile on the ‘look on the bright side’ advice and quotes, rather than allowing them to be in that space of unhappiness, then the feeling will just build and build. Not only that, but by not allowing people to express how they’re feeling without bouncing back how grateful they should be, we run the risk of making that other person feel that their feelings aren’t validated.

Photo Credit: Pixabay
Photo Credit: Pixabay

Trying to avoid negative emotions only suppresses them.

As much as a crappy feeling might be an unwanted guest, in a similar way to the tax man, it’s not going to go away until you at least acknowledge it. Once we can acknowledge it we can then start to work through it. Trying to avoid these feelings only makes them worse.

Negative emotions are all part of being human: we’re given a range of different emotions for a reason and being happy all the time just isn’t feasible. Actually, on that note, I’d be concerned if everyone was in a constant state of happiness or positivity all the time; the idea of that freaks me out a little.

Here are some examples of some more helpful responses:

  • "I know you’re going through a tough time."
  • "It’s normal to feel this way."
  • "I’m here for you."
  • "No Sharon, I wouldn’t recommend keying your ex’s car but I know how upsetting this must be for you."

So next time you or someone you know its going through a rough patch, don’t feel obliged to suggest or write a gratitude list, or be grateful that you’re not in a worse position. Everyone has their issues, everyone has their problems, and they’re all relative, regardless of how #blessed you are.

Accept that you’re not feeling great, have a good cry, throw a pity party, sob into your Sauvignon Blanc, and if you need to, speak to a professional: there’s no shame in that either.

Fiona Ryan is a "twenty something" fraud analyst currently studying for a counselling and psychotherapy diploma. Turning her education into an online blog, Fiona writes at - where you can find all of her posts! You can also follow Fiona on Instagram, @_Fiona_Ryan, and check out her Facebook page by clicking here.

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