You know how we’re in this society where there seems to be so much god damned pressure to ‘look on the bright side’ and ‘think positively’ and ‘be grateful’, while showing the world how #blessed we are? Well, turns out it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
I mean, sure, we need to live in the now, and it is so important to focus on what is going well as opposed to just looking at the shit going wrong. Nobody disputes that. But, not everything has to be awesome all the time. Nor do we have to ‘find the positive’ in every.single.thing. Sometimes crap happens, and we have to acknowledge that. Friends, I present to you, depressive realism.
So, it’s like totally a term and has research and everything. So it must be real. Depressive realism is basically the finding that overly positive people are just as skewed as overly negative people in their thinking. It’s actually healthy to be a bit blah peeps! It’s a more realistic look at life. Kind of like the tightrope walker, it’s a fine balance to tread between depressive realism and straight up depressive. We’ve still got to look at the good outweighing the bad and stuff, but we don’t *have* to make everything awesome.
What a relief, huh?
And a bit like our sunset mind, it’s something that we need to educate our kids on. Some researchers think the biggest issue facing our kids today is that we force them to be positive all the time and that everything will work out, they’ll get a shiny trophy and things will be perfect if they just try. Things won’t be perfect all the time, sorry little Johnny.
While no one disputes the damaging nature of severe and chronic depression, and the destructive nature of overly negative thinking, researchers think that those who look at the world with a tiny hint of depression, appear to make more realistic judgements than their overly positive “Pollyanna” counterparts. This term was coined by Lauren Alloy and Lyn Abramson, who were studying the illusion people often have of being in control, when they actually aren’t. Sounds like my life. If you’re dead set keen (sorry, my husband has started using ‘dead set’. It annoys me no end. So now I’m passing it on to you. You’re welcome) to learn more you can read about it all here. A mild depression appeared to breed objectivity.
Now, while it all seems like we should throw out those positive affirmations and burn copies of “The Secret” (actually, please do still burn that book. Because. Ugggh), optimism is still really, really important. It helps with our resilience, our ability to cope in times of adversity, the ways we set goals and so forth. So for us, and our kids, we want to have a good balance. Not being ridiculously over the top in our bouncy, vomit-worthy positivity, but not being too darn down about life. A small dose of depressive realism never hurt anyone.
So if anyone ever says to you “uggh stop being so negative!” you can calmly come back with “I’m not being negative, I’m being a depressive realist, yo”. BOO YA.
While I’m being a tad tongue-in-cheek, what the real message here is to GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK. You don’t have to be all rainbows and lollipops all the time. You’re human. If you’re having a crap time, acknowledge it. You don’t have to be Sunshine Mama Bear to your cherubs 24/7. And in turn your cherubs are allowed to get a bit blah about things too. We’re ok. Negative emotions aren’t bad, evil things that will suck your soul from your nostrils and steal the sunshine (sorry, bad Len pun). Without the negative, we wouldn’t ever feel so goddamned excited for the positives. Or to stop and take those moments when we truly do feel #blessed. In fact, sometimes those little negatives can keep our perspective in check, and not get us feeling too cocky or confident over things we don’t have much control over.
So let’s chill out, huh? Feel that depressive realism with me.
What do you think about depressive realism? A load of crap, or makes sense?
Are you a depressive realist?
If you need a bit of wellbeing after that inspiring post above, come link up here or over at Loulou Zoo. Open until Friday night!