Thoughts on Coping and Positivity

Hello again friends!

I think it’s fair to say that most people know me as a largely positive person. I believe this to be true, occasional justifiable events notwithstanding, and aside from the occasional not-all-that justified tilt. (hey, it happens to us all)

But those closest to me will know this isn’t always the case behind the scenes so to speak. At times I’ve suffered from isolation, negative-emotion loops, and difficult feelings. Naturally, everyone has to do this at times, but I haven’t always been that great at dealing with them throughout the years, to my detriment. Not only in emotional well-being, but career and education-wise as well, as I’ve ended up even sadder than Guy.

I don’t know about you guys, but this is way more articulate than I’d be, while being knocked out.

Recently, (as I imagine anyone reading this knows) I’ve had to once again face the ever-present spectre of sad times to a high degree. But this time, I’ve been doing better than I have before, despite the circumstances being worse. I thought I’d talk a little about why that is.

My hope is that some people might relate in a way which might be helpful to you. If not, you get to hopefully see ways in which I’m changing.

Trigun Love and Peace
Love and Peace, part of a balanced diet.

I guess everything comes under the umbrella of ‘I recognise these flaws within myself’ from past experience. My past struggles with negativity are such that – by the time I recognised them – it was too late. As many people with depression (whether chronic or not) will tell you, often you can recognise the self-destructive behaviour, but by then you convince yourself somehow that you deserve it.

So I guess that the first step is introspection. Everyone has different demons, and whether they’re like mine, or perhaps struggling with lashing out at people, you need to take the good times to look back and recognise your own personal traps so you don’t walk into them again. Prevention is better than cure!

My Traps

First, let’s look at motivation. I usually struggle with this in general, since I tend not to want many things. I’m not someone with dreams of owning a fancy car, or being an athlete, or any particular thing. All I ever want from life is to be reasonably happy. However, that’s not particularly motivational, since it doesn’t mean anything.

However, motivation is required. Things never get better without taking action, and action requires motivation to, well, act. So how do I motivate myself now?

Rather than doing things specifically for myself, I find inspiration in someone else. Someone that would/does care for me and my well-being, someone that I wouldn’t want to let down. I pick the qualities I like to see in someone else, and I’d like to emulate.

Are they nicer than me? Kinder than me? Have they been through hell and come out the other side as a person that is awesome to me? Well, they wouldn’t want me to feel sorry for myself. So, I take steps to better myself in a way that would make me the kind of person they’d approve of.

Now here’s the key to this. The point isn’t ACTUALLY to do it for them. This can’t hinge on them literally descending upon you to give you a thumbs up. After all, it’s possible they would never be there to recognise your achievements.

Macho Man
What would the Macho Man think? Do it for Randy!

But it doesn’t matter. Maybe you don’t have someone like that in your life, or you don’t any longer. It’s the construct in your mind, your memory. Whether lifting weights, trying to learn a language, applying for jobs, I’ll picture that person.

People have always said, self-improvement starts with loving yourself first. That’s true to an extent, but you know, some people just respond better for others. Think of people that are ‘cowardly’/averse to pain/weak, but rise to the occasion when people they care about are threatened. If “one day I’ll be great and everyone will see I’m the best” doesn’t motivate you, perhaps “maybe that person I respect and admire will would be happy” will. Even if it sounds silly.

Animation all over this post today.

Secondly, when the negative feelings strike, dealing with them has historically been a problem for me. And you know, I think people as a whole are terrible at this. We often just don’t tend to learn how. As children, being upset, angry, frustrated (maybe for justified reasons) or such tends to be seen as misbehaving, it’s something wrong with you, and we’re told to suppress it rather than deal with unwanted emotions.

Naturally, over the last 6+ months my brain has been pumping negative emotions at me on a fairly regular basis. Loneliness for obvious reasons. Anger at the injustice. Sadness at loss. And whatever the hell feeling it is when your heart realises feelings can’t be returned. These are all natural things to feel (within certain limits I guess!).

So, with me recognising that in the past my go-to responses of ‘hope the feeling passes by itself’ or ‘watch streams all day’ really didn’t help, any time I feel one I treat a negative emotion as like an alarm clock for action. Finding a productive use for negative emotions is huge, since not only does it help remove the feelings by working through them, it also ends up with you making some sort of progress in something else that, when the time passes you can be pleased about.

Some examples are obvious, like working harder at the gym because you’re pissed off. But just associating something like ‘man, I’m feeling sad’ to ‘time to cook something’ can help. I know someone that bakes cakes when they are sad. Not only does it take their mind off it, they end up with cakes at the end. Recently, I sensed I was feeling a bit down, but I tried to cut it off at the pass by going to donate blood. That’s maybe a bit unusual, but saying “fuck you sadness, I’m going to go try save a life” means you can feel good about yourself later.

I’m not perfect at this still, of course. There has been too much time spent doing nothing instead of writing here, or working on an Ebook. But knowing that I *HAVE* to do something to rid myself of negative feelings is important.

And So

Since I’m talking about negative feelings and how I’m coping with them, it’s natural for people to be worried. I’m always happy for people to check in on me of course, but the post isn’t meant to be about being sad.

If anything, it’s about how I’m doing well. I’m doing much better than I would have expected months ago. My brain is feeling the natural inclination to sabotage myself, and I’m grabbing it by the scruff of the neck and saying “not today” just like Syrio would want.

I like being positive. As cynical as I can be, I like to find the silver linings in things when talking to others. Finding said silver for myself is much harder, but I want to be the best Stephen I can be. Be someone that I would want to be around, if I were to clone myself.

A final thought: being negative is seductively easy, and sometimes tricks people into feeling good about themselves briefly. Being needless cynical about things often gives a false sense of superiority. “Look how smart I am, for recognising that the world sucks.” “See how foolish people are for hoping things can be just good for a change.”

But it doesn’t last. Being positive is the harder road, but it’s the one I need to keep taking. I need to keep smiling.

That’s all for today, see you all next time.

Tchau!

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