The other day a woman E-mailed me asking when I would be teaching my positivity course again.....
Here was my response to her inquiry:
“Thank you for reaching out. I usually offer my positivity class when I have a number of ‘graduates’ from my other classes who have learned to meet their struggles with compassion and are ready for the next step.
It's a curious paradox that learning to meet our difficulties with more compassion and kindness can be a gateway to cultivating more positive emotions. Though certainly we can master lessons in any order, without the previous trainings there can be a tendency to grow positivity as a way to ‘push away’ the difficult, which doesn't work well.”
I then told her about the self-compassion workshop that I was teaching. Among other things, self-compassion training teaches us is to be mindful of our struggles, to recognize that we are not alone, and to practice kindness when we are having a difficult time. While this can be painful, it is also necessary. Positivity with out the capacity to "be with" struggles is a recipe for imbalance and increased anxiety.
Please don't misunderstand. Cultivating gratitude and soaking in the good is absolutely essential to our well-being. But happiness will elude us when we try to use positivity as a strategy to avoid interfacing with that which is challenging. Learning to meet our own struggles with compassion is both a gateway and a firm foundation for the happiness that we desire in life.
How you can begin your own self-compassion journey: The next time you find yourself stressed out, instead of viewing your struggle as a personal failure, see if you can remind yourself that it is natural to feel difficult emotions when you have too much on your plate or when life throws a curve ball your way. Perhaps you can offer yourself some supportive and encouraging words—words that you might offer to a friend who was having a similar challenge.