Have you ever been told to just get over something? There are a lot of inspirational quotes out there to tell you to keep a positive attitude, but that message can sometimes be very damaging. Generally, this advice is a defense mechanism for people who don't know how to help. There's nothing more invalidating than someone telling you the pain you may be feeling is selfish and/or self-created.
Pain is a way of helping us establishing boundaries and is absolutely necessary for us to understand how and why we feel a certain way. When we're told to be positive when we're moving into the darkness, we are bypassing the alchemical process of transformation. Instead of healing ourselves, we become detached. This is called dissociation.
In Toxic Positivity: Don't Always Look on the Brightside, Dr. Konstantin Lukin Ph.D. says "Accepting difficult emotions helps with coping and with decreasing the intensity of those emotions. Think about how good it feels when you can finally talk about how hard your day was with your partner, parent, or friend. Getting things off your chest, including negative things, is like lifting a weight from your shoulders, even if it’s more difficult than pretending everything is fine."
The nigredo, or blackness, literally means putrefaction or decomposition and is the first step in the transformational process. It is represented by the Tower in the tarot. This is a signal to us that something needs to change and in order to transform our pain into something meaningful we have to allow it to be broken down. Only then is the healing process possible. If we bypass our emotions, the pain becomes stagnant and festers creating a polluted emotional body.
We're not meant to always be positive, but we are meant to find peace and understanding through our pain. We can be hopeful, but only if that doesn't mean not being authentic. All of our feelings and experiences are valid and learning experiences for our journey here.
This post was original written in January 2020.