Saturday, 2 March 2019

Weekly Discussion Summary ~ The Positivity Cloak

“......wearing the so-called positivity cloak can make us rigid in our approach and prevent us from exploring and appreciating the wide range of emotions that....make us human.”

In this week’s discussion, we explored whether the relentless pressure of “positivity” and “positive thinking” is helpful.

In our society, to be seen as “positive” is strongly linked with success. Positivity is about being goal driven, and, we are taught that the right attitude can help us overcome challenges. With a positive mindset, there is no room for sadness or anger and negativity is seen as destructive.

Naz explained that while being positive in the face of adversity can be adaptive in the short-term, being positive in the face of adversity can actually undermine us - wearing the so-called “positivity cloak” can make us rigid and prevent us from exploring and appreciating the wide range of emotions that not only pave the way towards resilience, but make us human. 

Naz explained the concept of ‘emotional agility,’ or what she called emotional and cognitive flexibility, is something that current neuroscience research is interested in. This refers to the ability of the brain to embrace (not only accept) the wide range of our experiences, of negative as well as positive emotional experiences. We are complex, so taking a rigid approach in favour of positivity (or negativity for that matter) is counter productive.

As women with primary or secondary breast cancer, our responses and emotions were diverse and complex. However, many of us shared that we had been surprisingly upbeat during and after our treatment. Often numb and in shock, we wondered whether distancing ourselves from our emotions and the full force of what it means to have, or have had breast cancer does not hit us until we feel in a position of relative safety. We rarely cry - privately or publicly - and instead focus our energies on dealing with the demands of treatment. We wear a positive smile to protect ourselves and our loved ones. 

For women with primary breast cancer, expectations for 'recovery' after active treatment has finished can make it even harder for us to get in touch with these feelings as we are not only seen as ‘better’, the gratitude we feel at having a second chance, and 'bouncing back' means we easily push away any negative feelings. We don’t want to appear weak. 

Whether we have primary or secondary cancer, we struggle to find our voices and so often, we hide our fears and losses behind a mask of positivity.

Naz told us that the brain continues to make sense of the impact of the trauma, which unfolds in different ways over many years. The more flexible our brains, the better we can adjust to changing emotions. Our emotions speak to us, they signal something important - there are no 'negative' or 'positive' emotions - every emotion we experience is adaptive, it wants to protect us, in relation to the situational demands we experience. It is counterproductive to be unable to switch and embrace the different emotions we experience. We need to move between them,  to embrace, experience, and endorse the range of the complex emotional experiences we go through. 

Emotional complexity is emotional richness. It's power. It's flexibility. 

If you are a woman living in the UK with a breast cancer diagnosis and you would like to join our private group please send us a private message.

Image credit: Buddha Doodles whose images are certain to lift the spirits!


1 comment:

Braddie G said...

This is a really positive approach. If we can accept the warmth easily, in the same way, we should accept the storms and thunders without any difficulty. We may feel depressed due to some reasons, but you can treat depression by using Etizolam RX Online