If I share with friends or family that I’m having a difficult time, their instinct is to console me. They respond with different variations of these phrases:
“Think of the glass as half full, rather than half empty.”
“Look on the bright side.”
“It could be worse so be grateful for what you have.”
I think these are some of the most hurtful things I’ve ever been told. I know they don’t intend to harm me, but rather than allowing me to share my struggles, and be comforted during hard times, they’ve simply tried to distract me from them. It feels dismissive of the things that bother me. Their solution to my problems revolves around ignoring the negative and focusing on the positive. Ultimately, their belief is that the “power of a positive mindset” will act like the magic words to make all my troubles go away. They’re not necessarily wrong in thinking that a positive attitude helps to cope in the face of adversity. But they’re attempts at positivity aren’t helping me. In fact, they’re making it worse.