The pursuit of happiness is a core tenant of recovery, and finding the things and people that make one happy is crucial on one’s journey. Embracing enjoyable hobbies and relinquishing negative feelings and stress paves the way to a joyful daily life. This positive outlook is something to be garnered and balanced, not forced.
While counter-intuitive, it can be more beneficial to embrace negative feelings to contextualize one’s positive experiences. Forcing positivity and happiness at all times can end up causing the opposite effect. Relinquishing toxic, relentless positivity is paramount to embracing the natural range of emotions each person experiences.
What Is Relentless Positivity?
Relentless positivity is the idea that a person “should” be happy at all times or otherwise force themselves to look on the bright side without concern about how they may genuinely be feeling. While pushing down difficult emotions to prioritize a false kind of happiness can seem like a resilient concept, it also fundamentally leaves one’s stresses or negative emotions unaddressed and unexpressed.
Forcing oneself to smile in all situations eliminates the opportunity for other emotions to manifest. While feelings of anger or sadness may be uncomfortable, they are just as necessary to acknowledge. Feelings are often considered in terms of “good” or “bad,” and avoiding “bad” feelings can seem like the right thing to do. Boiling down complex emotions into such a binary structure leaves little room for the true complexity and nuance of emotional expression.
Creating a Healthier Perspective
Relentless positivity not only prevents an individual from expressing other emotions in favor of forcing false happiness, but it also changes one’s perspective of daily life. Without embracing how the stressors of the day truly make one feel, one can begin to view the world not for what it is—the stressors and trials therein—but instead on how one wishes it to be. This is rarely genuinely reflective of the situation.
By dismissing relentless positivity and embracing the vast array of emotions one may feel, one can better understand their environmental stressors and relationships. This can help to identify triggers that may impact their mental and emotional health and even sobriety.
Compromising Coping Strategies
Relentless positivity does not just push down uncomfortable emotions but actually compromises one’s ability to process them. A person may lack the necessary practice to implement effective coping strategies by avoiding rather than confronting negative emotions, leaving an individual compounding these emotional trials without a plan to release them. This counterproductively leads to increased feelings of anxiety, depression, or anger. To effectively process and educate oneself about their feelings, they need to be expressed first.
Emotional Expression in Recovery
Those navigating addiction and sobriety can feel an even more intense, wide array of emotions that may contrast one’s ideas of a happy future. All emotions are necessary to acknowledge and process.
For those in recovery, relentless positivity can cause an individual to fail to acknowledge stresses that directly impact their sobriety. Emotions are complicated, and there is no way to simply make the more uncomfortable feelings just “go away” without practiced, dedicated outlets. Instead, they can continue to build in one’s mind, eventually expressing themselves in less constructed, unsafe forms.
For some, this can result in angry outbursts or panic. In contrast, others may look to increasingly desperate ways to push down these emotions as they become more intense, threatening one’s sobriety with relapse and self-destructive habits.
Detaching Yourself From Relentless Positivity
Relinquishing the mentality that one is “supposed” to feel happy all the time comes with several difficult realizations. It is also necessary to embrace the coping strategies for a truly transformative experience. Relentless positivity is a false, forced kind of happiness, and finding ways to detach oneself from these feelings is necessary for an honest approach to one’s recovery.
For some, journaling can provide a pivotal outlet to acknowledge one’s feelings. Having a safe space to write can allow individuals to be more honest with themselves and introduce the idea that stress, anxiety, and sadness can be acknowledged healthily. This shift in mentality is necessary to challenge notions of relentless positivity.
It is expected that one will begin to challenge these notions with quick, short, and ambiguous statements such as admitting “I’m stressed” is great! Stressed about what, though? Expanding on these thoughts and challenging each of one’s emotions—happiness and stress, anger, and more. Learning to do this can take some adjustment.
This is also a helpful skill. Just as asking oneself why they may feel stressed, asking “What made me happy?” can also cause individuals to be more honest about their emotions, positive or negative. This approach creates a healthier perspective, birthing more honest feelings of gratitude, honesty, and self-awareness.
Relentless, toxic positivity is a dangerous trap in addiction recovery. Learning to embrace and process uncomfortable emotions is more powerful than forcing a smile at all hours of the day. At Pacific Sands Recovery Center in Santa Ana, California, we understand the unique and challenging journey from taking your first step into a treatment program to celebrating your next sober anniversary. While finding positive elements is excellent, it is just as essential to work alongside professionals to acknowledge and develop strategies for the more trying times of your recovery journey. By personalizing your time with us, we can create a healthy daily routine in detox and residential care and a healthy mindset to help you inside and outside of our walls. For more information on how we can make your time with us as impactful as possible, call to speak to us today at (949) 426-7962.