By: Beatriz Craven, Guest Blogger
We are flooded with so many messages about being positive. No scratch that. That’s not even it. We get sugary messages like, DANCE IN THE RAIN! Life is about moments that take your breath away! Harness your inner unicorn! Ok, I may have made up that last one, but you catch my drift. I’m a therapist as my life trade and calling. And I can assure you, if I ever told one of my clients: “hold on little caterpillar, you will soon be a butterfly!” They would whack me in the face. And rightly so. This stuff doesn’t stick for a reason. I could wallpaper my entire office in sticky notes with happy quotes scribbled on them but it won’t do a lick of good. Why, you ask? Because it’s not realistic and we can’t internalize things we don’t believe to begin with. Instead, give me something like:
“Life really kicks you in the ovaries sometimes and I’m sorry about that. I know it hurts. Now let’s share war stories and cry into our ice cream as we indulge in our epic failures and tragedies. Only then will we see the silver linings that come with them. Like the beauty of shared pain, growth, insight, love, and the healing power of vanilla.”
Image courtesy of Beatriz Craven
Now don’t get me wrong with all this sassy talk about the pursuit of happiness. I actually adore quotes and fuzzy feelings. I just think we need to be mindful of whether we’re ingesting words of inspiration and perspective, or unrealistic fluff. I’m afraid the latter may do more harm than good. I reflect on my own way of finding immense delight in the little things. I eat them up like chocolates wrapped in foil. But I know they only come to light the way they do when I am being friendly with all parts of my emotional being. My relationship with life blossoms at its brightest when I am most in touch with the fleeting nature of it. It is the experience of pain and loss that teaches me to live richly.
We are such incredibly complex and interesting creatures. I find nothing more demeaning to ourselves than placing unrealistic expectations of happiness and then writhing in our own disappointment when we cannot reach it. The worst part is that we tend to not talk about these darker experiences because they can make us feel inadequate, faulty, like a downer. Our sadness fails to breathe as we do our best to suffocate it instead of taking a more compassionate approach to our humanness. As a result we cheat ourselves out of a full life.
It is my greatest wish that we choose to take on a life of joy with a side of beautiful tragedy to bring out the flavor. Now the question is, will you choose to take it as a gift or a curse? I think you already know my answer to that one.
About Beatriz: Beatriz Craven is desperately close to fulfilling her dream of becoming a psychologist with the completion of her PhD. She is an avid life enthusiast, loving wife, and movie fanatic.