We all hear these things, “Hang in there, it will get better.” , “This too shall pass”, “Think of the glass as half full, not half empty.”. Our world is filled with this positivity, these inspirations and the “be happy-spin” spreading everywhere. Hey, I get it. I do the same. Heck, I make my living out of coaching and inspiring! (and I am grateful for that. It’s a great place to be.) As much as the positivity is important it is also important that we keep our eyes open and see the truths that maybe we don’t want to see.
I’ve always been very proud of my optimistic personality but not until recently did I really see how damaging excessive optimism can be to our lives and the lives of others. When we deny some important “uglies” we are not seeing the whole picture, we are missing some of the facts we need in order to make good decisions. Our decisions determine what comes in, what stays and what goes out of our lives. Without the accurate inventory of what is there, how would we know what is needed to be eliminated?
There are times when some things simply need to be removed from the equation. If something isn’t working, looking all the parts, especially the bad, may be the key to success. Remove or modify the bad and now there is room for better-new (the new gifts, people and experiences that can only come in when you say goodbye to something else). The better-new may be the very thing needed to reach our desired outcome. We’ve heard, “close the door so another can open”. I realize closing the door sometimes hurts. It feels like we are killing something. But how can something better be birthed without it? It’s nature’s way. Life works in balance. It requires the constant equal exchange of in and out.
Making the change is also key to growth. And again, we can’t change without knowing what is there in the first place. Being extremely optimistic doesn’t always allow for that vision.
I recently spent some time with someone that is always very optimistic; always wearing a smile and always believing the current situation will get better. His wife even said, “Yes, he is always like this, even at home.” At first, it was very appealing. “So nice to be around someone so positive,”. “What a great way to be,” right?
Not necessarily. I spent enough time with this person to see that in a particularly challenging area of his life, his excessive optimism was really a form of denial – and destructive. Only looking at the positive meant not seeing the bad, which results in delusion. It was a hard thing for me to see this about him because I would never consider this personal delusional, quite the opposite, actually. He was clever, very intelligent, always on the ball. No way would I describe him as delusional but in fact, that is what was happening. He was so set on something working out just the way he wanted that he refused to see the post signs along the way, the history and continuation of some of the problems. He was doomed for failure when all he could see is, “success is around the corner”. This went on for years!!!!
It’s true that this attitude is the key to success much of the time but not in isolation. But it is imperative to know when it’s time to walk away, whether it be small things or large. This is especially important when our attitude and decisions affect others (which is very often the case). This hurts others because they are living in this unrealistic bubble with us and it can keep them moving on, trying new things and doing what is better or right for them.
Understandably so, I think the optimism bubble can sometimes happen when we get emotionally attached to something, something we really believe in, something we have worked so hard for and something we really want to happen. It makes sense. We have invested immensely in it.
It never starts off as denial. Often it begins with a strong focus, ambition and determination, which are excellent and admirable qualities. But you must be discerning. You must draw the line? There is a shift from ambition to putting on the blinders. And then maybe no real sight at all. You don’t see the truths. You don’t see what really is? You can justify the optimism for a while, while it is healthy and admirable but after a while, you have to see what really is and accept it. Then move forward from that place of sight and the knowledge that comes with it.
Give yourself the gift of eyes wide open so you can also gift yourself with life’s unknowns. That’s where the magic is!!
THEN..you can be the optimist and fly like the turtle. I’ll join you! ;-D