Are you optimistic?

Photo credit : me.me

According to Google/Oxford languages :
An OPTIMIST is a person who tends to be hopeful and confident about the future or the success of something.
“only an eternal optimist could expect success”

Merriam-Webster says that a REALIST is a person who recognizes what is real or possible in a particular situation : one who accepts and deals with things as they really are.

One would think that the two could not possibly go together – especially when considering harsh realities – how could there still be hope?

Apparently they do!

A couple of years ago a friend came to me for advice. She chose to ask me because she wanted ‘the dream’. She was seeking a purely optimistic perspective – ‘of course it will work! Go for it! You’ll be a great success!’
She relied on the fact that I am always an encouragement, and always hopeful. She relied on my positive energy.
She probably should not have led with, ”I want to ask you about something, because I know I can trust you to be honest!”

This is not to say that I am dishonest in my encouragement or hopefulness.
Repeating the words of a very good friend, again, ”We interpret things from where we are. One person, using their window to the world will see it/you as this, and another will view it/you completely differently.’’

My ‘window of being an encouragement’ is predominantly based on, ”be who you needed when you were younger”. And… I’ll add… who I need in my life now as well.

I find that for me personally, my need for encouragement from others usually appears at the point where I have already heard enough reality. It comes at a time where I’ve already received input into something, sometimes from people who weren’t even asked to provide input πŸ˜› , and it’s all just been so negative… to the point that it actually limits my potential in unrelated areas because it starts to affect my mindset in general – for example : While I see realistically that ‘those people’ are right, and it won’t work, their voices have been so loud and ‘so much’ that I start feeling that nothing will work.

And I find myself seeking encouragement in other areas, just to remind me that ‘one failure’ is not ‘total failure’. That I’ve still got this πŸ˜‰ – just without ‘that’.

More often than not, the people who turn to me for encouragement seem to have reached that exact same point. They’ve been slammed with so much negativity that they just desperately want to hear something positive! And, to be honest, if I can find nothing positive about whatever it is that they are asking, or struggling with…. I’ll admit it : I deflect. I try to distract from their reality, to remind them of the goodness that still exists.

I am probably wrong.

But in my personal experience, I have found that the result is usually this : the problem/reality still exists, and is still devastating, but they find an extra ounce of strength… and as small as it is, there is a definite increase in their ability to cope.

MY personal experiences and findings are probably a psychologists nightmare! πŸ˜›

Back to my friend….
She had specifically triggered the honesty in me… not the deflection. I owed it to her to be realistic. My response was hesitant – I carefully considered each word before I spoke it!
And afterwards we were in tears – with laughter!!!
She taught me something important that day! I learned that it is possible to be an Optimistic Realist!
That the two really can be combined!
I choose to put the word ‘optimistic’ first though, because I definitely lean more towards it…
Despite some of my realities, and despite knowing that the arguments some make that ‘it is impossible’ are true,
”Hope Springs Eternal” in my heart! For better, or for worse.

And I was reminded the other day that this has always been a part of ‘who I am’. The Facebook Memory that reminded me made me smile, and cry.
I smiled because I needed that reminder so desperately, at a time when my reality was overwhelming me.
And I cried because I miss this particular friend so very much – I lost her to cancer.
The memory?

I am not saying that being the way I am is an entirely good thing πŸ˜›
And over the years, many have tried to change this part of me – and I am well aware of ‘what a bad quality it can be’, because they have told me so! On numerous occasions! Ha!

But personally? From my window? It keeps me strong – in the face of harsh realities, it is what pulls me out of bed in the morning. So it really can’t be all that bad for me πŸ˜‰

So… if you need a little bit of ‘deflected encouragement’… hit me up… I’m your girl πŸ˜‰
I’ll even do it honestly and not deflect, if you so wish… but I’ll have to talk slowly πŸ˜› πŸ˜‰

Thank you for reading,
Meg x

embrace

brene-brown-quotes
With the current state of the world, and various countries experiencing different levels and restrictions and difficulties with regards to lock down, I really thought that our focus would have shifted a little.

And yet, there are so many who still seem to hold a picture in their mind of how other people should be. What saddens me the most as I scroll through social media of those who live in my country, is that when people voice their frustration or even admit to an inkling of depression that seems to be falling upon them, the general response is ‘you need to practice an attitude of gratitude’, ‘you need to be more positive’, ‘you need to change / stop complaining’.

Please don’t get me wrong. I DO agree with those sentiments, because we all know that having the right ‘heart’s attitude’ about anything in life makes ALL the difference.

But at the same time, people are struggling. They’re frustrated, they’ve lost their income, they are alone and lonely, they are worried, they are stressed, they are sad and afraid. And this is where kindness and compassion need to play the biggest role – especially in the times we are facing currently, and with regards to what lies ahead and seems to be looming in my country.

Perhaps we need to pause and consider our responses, a little more than usual.

I have one friend who is a truly great chick πŸ˜‰ She’s always positive and uplifting, a real fitness freak, and oh man, she’s not too proud toΒ laugh in an unladylike manner. But our current restrictions have hit her hard the last few days, and so for the past 24 hours her Facebook posts have been what I suppose could be construed as negative and depressing.

My first thought as I scrolled through her timeline this morning was, ‘You’re so brave to be sharing publicly the negative emotions you are actually feeling because you are finding yourself overwhelmed by it all – I salute your vulnerability, my friend.’
But the responses from others just broke my heart. I didn’t publicly share any of my sentiments, but instead popped off a private message to her. And I was astounded at something in her reply : Meg, you’re the only one who has actually asked if there is anything you can do to help me. Words can’t describe my gratitude.

I don’t share this as a brag – or to boast and boost my ego. I share this to create an awareness that you know is there in your spirit.Β I am sure people have come to mind, I am sure you have come across negativity. Allow that to be a prompt to just ask if there is anything you can do. The likelihood that there IS may be minimal, but what I am realising the most is this : in these troubling times, the mere fact that someone is even WANTING to offer some form of support is more appreciated than whether or not they actually CAN help you.Β 

I’m even struggling at the moment. Things are getting a little bit ‘stupid’ here – we’re even being dictated to with regards to what we are allowed to wear, and the purchase of t-shirts and slip slops/sandals has been taken off the table for us. And there was a moment yesterday where I found myself being a little bit too hard on myself. Criticising me, because ‘everyone is struggling, and negative emotions are not good, you’re supposed to be be positive and inspirational and a kind heart is supposed to reflect beauty, not frustration and sadness, there is more expected of you than this’.

This morning I realised that I AM still being the kind of woman I want to be, that I CAN still hold my head high, that the negative emotions ARE allowed to be feltit’s how I handle the after effects of them that matters.Β Β 

None of what I am feeling is unusual in these circumstances. I need to let go of the suppositions and expectations of others and embrace all of me…

Because ‘me’ is enough, so long as I keep doing my best in circumstances that I have no control over.

And so, for everyone reading… please be kind to yourself, and please be kind to others… no matter how near or far they are.