I wouldn’t consider myself a born optimist. I grew up in a home filled with love and laughter but also sarcasm and complaining. Starting in late elementary school I started leaning towards melancholy. It was the normal preteen thing to do.  I would watch adults around me use complaints for conversation. Not in a way that was blatantly depressing or negative, but simple, common, complaints as normal conversation techniques. 


There was a lot of humour on my mom’s side of the family. But even humour lends itself to sarcasm and can be riff with hidden negativity. This isn’t anything new. The world is negative. Media shines a spotlight on negativity. We’ve normalized negativity. 


How many times have you gathered with a group of friends only to gossip, laugh about your fails or complain about the state of the world? There are hundreds of ways to do all of this while still maintaining a smile on your face, holding a drink in your hand and ending the night thinking about all the fun you had. But we’re still focused on what’s wrong. Imagine spending all of your time, no matter what, thinking and talking about what’s going right?


Complaining and negativity is normalized. 


When I entered this profession 20 years ago I was not only immersed in yoga, but life coaching, professional development, healing arts and more. Some of it uplifted me. Some it resonated with me. Some of it repelled me. I saw where the hopeless positivity and tweaks of language was going….but at times it seemed too much. It seemed fake. 


“Be real!!!” I would think to myself……..like only negativity was real.


Whenever a coach, mentor or friend would regurgitate a positive slogan or rewrite my narrative for me in a positive spin I would think, “gahh, here we go again.” Like I haven’t heard that before. I KNOW that. I’ve HEARD that before. But THIS….THIS is real. My pain is real. My negativity in this situation is real. HEAR ME!!!


What I don’t want is to be ignored. No one does. I don’t want my pain to be ignored. I don’t want to pretend that I don’t have these emotions. They ARE real. I don’t always want to white wash them with positivity. 


The problem is most lean too far into negativity. Even our attempts at positivity are laced with “buts” and “ifs” and little cuts at our attempt at grace. We need the balance of all the emotions and to balance our negativity we need to see the effects of our language on others. 


Not everyone needs to hear everything. Keep the hurt for those that really need to hear it and can help you through it. Your emotions and experiences are contagious. The slogans and friends that I used to find annoying are life saving now. I know better now. I see their influence on me…..and I see my influence on others.


Pain, conflict and struggle is real…….and it will always be there. So how do you want to deal with it? Joy, grace and gratitude are also real and will always be there. The wolf that we feed will get stronger. I now actively choose to switch from fear to love as often as I can. I listen with gratitude when someone changes my negative narrative with a simple….


“I hear you but have you also considered this perspective?”


Covid has brought with it hit after hit. Some small. Some big. At first I was scared. At first I was hurt. And eventually I was flat. I took some time to feel that. All of that. Fear, anger, hopelessness. I sat in it all.


I had to remind myself that we are in this for the long haul. I reminded myself that this is nothing new. Change is constant and there has ALWAYS been struggle. Never in history has there not been BIG problems. This is not the first time, and it certainly won’t be the last. 


I’ve definitely been feeling extra negative the last few months because of covid-19. It has drained me. It has made me feel lost and hopeless. I needed a break……badly. After 5 months of this I was offered a chance for some reprieve. I had been given an opportunity to travel briefly and study abroad doing what I loved. I NEEDED this. This would save me. This would uplift me. This was exactly what I needed. I was looking forward to this for weeks. Things were looking up.


Then the phone rang. Another thing cancelled and killed because of covid. I was just about to jump on the negative bus. Tears in my eyes and my anxiety creeping up my shoulders ready to rant and rave to anyone who would listen. 


Right then my little girl walked into the room and asked me what happened. I told her the one thing I was really needing was cancelled to which she said with her big hazel eyes, “oh good….. you get to stay with me then!”


Thank you God, that was the fastest switch from fear to love I have ever had. 


There is only one way to look if we’re going to make our way through this thing called life. We have to look up. Looking up is where we want to go. It’s where all the good stuff is and I guarantee you if you look up there is always something good. Sometimes it’s hard to see and sometimes it’s disguised as struggle. But it’s there if you look, and it’s really nice to spend more time there. 


How can you shift from what’s wrong to what’s right?


When facing a looming problem ask yourself:


  1. What’s going right?
  2. What am I not seeing here?
  3. What’s possible?


I was reminded of all of this today. I was saved by a 7 year old girl. The next time someone tries to help you spin your narrative…..let them. The only way to go is up.


Let yourself look up. There’s no point in looking back, you’re not going that way.


With grace and grit,

Karla Treadway