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The Dark Side of “The Bright Side”

Have you ever experienced the following scenario:

You open up about a recent disappointment, only to be told how you should, “Look on the bright side?” Then, they remind you that someone else has it worse. . .

Let’s be real, the proper human response to hurt isn’t gratefulness or even positivity. The proper response is more like, “OW, this hurts.”

The world is full of toxic positivity, pretending to be hope. Yet, maybe the most dangerous part of “bright side thinking” is that it gives you permission to avoid what is true inside of you?

If you’ve been burnt by “bright side” people before, perhaps it is because they have learned to minimize their own hurts, wants, and needs? Naturally, these tactics of minimizing and repressing the hard stuff is all they can offer you. Know this: it is IMPOSSIBLE to honor the needs and feelings of others if you do not know how to honor your own. Notice when Jesus is asked about the essence of life, he finishes by saying, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

So, while there may be a “bright side” to the problem you are facing, IT IS CRITICAL that you feel, hurt, and grieve if necessary. In fact, if you will honor the feelings that are true inside of you, they will lead you to life. . .

The next time you notice your feelings are being minimized by yourself or others, try this instead:

  1. Acknowledge the feelings you are having inside
  2. Care about those feelings with questions & self-empathy
  3. Ask yourself what it is you want or need
  4. Make a promise to yourself to get the need met in a healthy way

Life is too short to live it dismissive of what is true within. Instead of doubling down on predictable patterns of denial, what if you began to live life connected to what is true inside of you?

In our Plumline program, “Growing Healthy Relationships,” we teach you to honor the feelings you have been taught to repress or ignore. We understand that Emotional Health can be very intimidating, and that is why we use a sophisticated, yet simple feelings framework in our groups. Dr. Chip Dodd’s discovery as a clinical counselor is that while feelings can be complex, there are only 8 primary feelings in the human experience. Those feelings are: Hurt, Lonely, Sad, Anger, Fear, Shame, Guilt, and Glad. If honored, each of these feelings are able to lead you to a gift. If ignored, these same feelings become twisted and sick, devolving into an impaired version of each feeling.

For example, When you honor fear each time it is true inside, it is able to lead you to the gift of faith and wisdom. If, however, you ignore fear when it is true within, it devolves into anxiety and control. The problem with unhelpful sentiments like “think on the bright side,” is that, if adhered to, twist the feelings that are true for you. . . If you’ve been hurt and you have chosen to minimize or ignore that hurt, it turns to resentment. Why pay that price when your hurt is able to lead you to healing and courage?

May you have the courage to avoid unhelpful sentiments that keep you from what is true inside. You are worth the effort, care, and time.

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