If you ever want to see smoke come out of my ears and flames burst out from the side of my face, just try telling me to look on the bright side. Fire will shoot from my throat like a dragon before my brain even processes what’s being said.
A burning building has a bright side.
That doesn’t mean you should stay in it.
Too often the person recommending the bright side is just uncomfortable and trying to command a perky performance out of someone suffering.
I am not a fan of denial as a coping skill., and automatic “Bright Siding” is just denial. A healthy version of it might be a practice of gratitude, or perspective taking. But I deeply understand the temptation. Still, my life has taught me that it’s not the things we’re afraid of that really screw our lives up. It’s the things we do to AVOID the thing we’re afraid of that screw our lives up:
- Isolating in relationships because the fear of rejection is so painful.
- Numbing out for years with television or phone scrolling.
- Substance abuse.
- Living small.
- Refusing to call a doctor.
We so often run from the thing we’re afraid of and run straight into the arms of something even worse. It’s the opposite of self care, because the entire purpose of self care is to give ourselves the care and tools we need — so we can face difficult challenges and work through big feelings instead of avoiding them.
Because hardship finds us all eventually, one way or the other — it’s part of the human condition, just like breathing, laughing, crying, worrying, and happiness are. We can’t avoid discomfort, struggle, and challenges. That’s why saying things like “just think positive!” or “good vibes only” is toxic denial. Creating a false positivity to ignore uncomfortable feelings is not going to make them go away or make us better able to cope with them. It just makes them fester. And what’s more, it stunts our growth.
No, friends. Don’t look on the bright side.
Look on ALL the sides.