Insipid Positivity

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“It is an art to dream a dream, a science to dream an illusion”

“It is so often the insane who pronounce the sane mad.”

“The greatest cruelty is to target an honest person for being honest.”

One strategy for justifying any almost any action is to employ the language of law. Clever arguments are brought forth in the name of sincerity.

One example of this is the dogmatic use of “positivity” as an antidote to any personal action that causes pain and hurt to others.

Joy and happiness are not antidotes to pain; they are corollaries.

To use positivity as a “catch all” is clever and collusive and can even be cruel. It should never be our intention to cause distress to another for its own sake. But often change involves discomfort – REAL-isation can involve facing uncomfortable evidence and information. Our world can be unmade when we allow new perspectives into a dialogue. At least some of these perspectives may be critical. Some may challenge us and may seem to cast shadows on what we thought was all bright light. We can feel burned by the scrutiny of others who ask us penetrating questions and also who name things in a negative way. We may be close to disaster, heading over the cliff, and only the use of the word disaster will be strong enough to pull us back from the brink.

Insipid positivity is often ill-directly, lazily focused and even born of fear of that zone of discomfort. Positivity for its own sake, puts the gaze onto the smile as an end in itself, rather than one of a number of means to positive ends. In a world “full of pain” it is seen by many as the only viable antidote; we can smile our way out of trouble. Positive thinking is then a kind of panacea. The problem here is that this “generically sprayed” positivity can create what my friend David Knowles calls “reality blindness.” We head, smiling over the cliff, with our “friends” cheering us n and clapping.

What I sometimes call “insipid” positivity becomes a crutch for an individual who claims that anyone criticising them should be more “positive”. This reinforces the psychic comfort zone the person has become trapped in. They tend to then surround themself with “friends”, relationships, groups and even communities who are valued to the extent to which they are “positive” towards the addict of insipid positivity.

They often put out small amounts of false negativity in the form of self-deprecation and humility in order to curry favour with the community they are attempting to establish themselves in.

Of course when the person decides to be negative, or “critical”, this is always (in their biased view) justified because their default position in life is usually “positive”. So when they ARE negative, it simply MUST be right and objective, because it is so rare!. It is interesting how much these individuals can come across as “indignant royal personages” – “we are NOT amused”! – Their negativity and outrage is often pompous in style and seeks “allies” amongst the collusive “friends”. It is of course because their “positivity” is insipid, hiding a lawyer-like precision with life.

Leaving loved ones, using people, manipulating them, playing mind games, demonizing others, are NOT positive. And a dose of “positivity ” does not always put things right; it’s just a cowardly flight from real freedom and deep responsibility. When we are negative in our dialogue with others, yet for deeper positive reasons (to name and move things forwards, to raise consciousness and seek honesty), we can often achieve a longer term positive outcome, that may not reveal itself for years, even decades. It requires an instinctive sense of, and faith in the long run. It requires a patience that many do not have.

Insipid positivity tries to rescue every recipe by adding sugar and honey. It is nearly always a quick reaction, a short-term fix And it is always doomed to longer-term failure.

 


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