All too often in social media and other places I see people posting about how they want "good vibes only" and how they have a "no negativity" zone. At the risk of emitting "negative vibes", I have to say that I find these mantras to be ridiculous. I will even go further and say that not only are they ridiculous, they are harmful to people, our relationships and our ability to connect with one another.
I am the first to value the importance of having a positive outlook and surrounding yourself with positive, supportive people. The problem is that life isn’t always positive. In fact, sometimes it can outright suck and pretending that everything is great, when it isn’t, is not healthy. As humans, we are blessed with a full range of emotions including anger, sadness, fear, joy, disgust and surprise. We are meant to feel all of these emotions, not just the positive ones. If we suppress the negative ones, to put on our happy face, it is harmful to our overall well being. We can’t process emotions if we don’t allow ourselves to feel them. If we suppress our emotions they end up affecting us in other ways or we resort to self-medicating to numb them. Numbing emotions through alcohol, food or drugs is never a good thing, and our “good vibes only” culture may very well be contributing to the increasing rate of substance abuse.
A “good vibes only” mantra is also undermining our relationships with friends and partners. The current dating world is full of countless people looking for fun and a good time, with no strings attached, no responsibility and no commitment. If we express dissatisfaction to our date about anything, we are viewed as too negative, and if we are upset about something they did, we are seen as being critical, demanding or some other negative quality. No one wants to date “negative Nellie” or “Debbie Downer”, they just want a good time because life is too short. Our relationships are expected to be only fun, and if they become work, it’s time to move on. How are we supposed to develop meaningful connections with anybody, if all we can talk about are positive experiences and feelings? True bonding occurs over being vulnerable, and being vulnerable involves expressing feelings of sadness, disgust, and fear.
Our “good vibes only” culture causes people to feel isolated because they can’t share any negative feelings or emotions without fear of others wanting to avoid being around them. It creates a fake reality where we are made to feel ashamed or like we are doing something wrong if we feel sad, angry or upset. Obviously, a positive attitude is important, but we can have a positive attitude while still acknowledging that we are going through a difficult time and feeling scared, sad or overwhelmed. By projecting only positivity, we make ourselves unapproachable to those who are suffering because we aren’t being relatable or genuinely expressing our truth as nobody’s truth is always positive. “Good vibes only” seems superficial or insincere.
So at the risk of being labelled “Debbie Downer”, I am calling on others to drop the superficial “good vibes only” mantra and adopt a mantra of “be real”, “be authentic” or “be you” in all your glorious range of emotions. Be positive, be supportive, be encouraging, but be real. Most importantly, if you are struggling, be honest with someone about your emotions, and if you have no one to talk to, contact me, and I will help you find the right resources.