Optimistic People Need to Cry Too
Even the most optimistic, energetic, sunny people know what it’s like to go through depression. Those of us who brighten people’s lives with our smiles, openness and joy also have the need at times to vent, cry and heal our wounds and broken pieces inside. Only then will we be able to stay resilient and keep up our rational, objective, powerful optimism so we can handle whatever life throws at us.
It would be correct to say that right now the view we have, in general, of optimistic people is somewhat biased. We all know someone who has an unusual ability to make the difficult easy. We all know personality types full of encouragement, hope and intimacy. Don’t you have a friend or family member who always says “yes” and seems to have a good life?
Optimistic people always have a plan; pessimistic people, excuses.
We think they were born under a “lucky star,” with all these wonderful skills already in them. However, the reality is quite different, as well as interesting. There are two types of optimism. Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology, called the first type “blind optimism”. This is where the person thinks that whatever happens, everything will turn out well, leading to them to act irresponsibly and trust destiny.
The other type, however, is “rational optimism”. This is when a person is aware that positivity, by itself, will not produce changes. To be optimistic is basically to have perspective and not be discouraged by failure or thoughts of defeat that tend to emanate from it.
Likewise, it’s important to realize that optimism is an attitude you build. In fact, our brain has a natural tendency to focus on potential external threats that may endanger our lives. Optimism, therefore, is something you train every day by strengthening your character, learning from setbacks and managing your emotions in tough times that, really, are inevitable for us all.
How optimistic people are optimistic in tough times
Optimistic people are not necessarily naive. It’s true that many of them practice an empty positivity, where they just breathe deeply and trust. They’re mere spectators of their lives. However, other people transfer that positivity into action.
We say this because there’s a common myth about what optimism is and involves. In the second case, we’re talking about a psychological dimension that’s so valuable it’s worth almost any effort to grow in it.
The American Psychological Association conducted a survey a few years ago to assess how the current social and economic crisis was affecting the population in general. We learned interesting and useful data from it. It discovered that women were the most affected group. They are also the ones who experience the most psychological symptoms: stress, anxiety, headaches, fatigue, eating disorders…
In a world in crisis, pay inequality and job opportunities impact primarily the female gender, which is why it is necessary to address this problem in a multi-faceted way.
Secondly the American Psychological Association wanted to find out what strategies those women who had managed to cope with tough times used to position themselves, little by little, in positions of importance or power.
When these women explained all the daily coping mechanisms that they used, the psychologists labelled the group of dynamics under the term “resistant optimism”. It would no longer be the rational optimism that Seligman spoke of in his day.
In fact, now we’d have to go one step further. We are living in a time when we have to integrate new psychological strategies to keep us afloat in hardship. They are as follows:
- Remaining faithful to those ideas we have thought through and now believe.
- Accepting negative emotions: listen to their message and intelligently channel the energy they give us.
- Understand that life is made up of experiences, many of which are not going to be positive or pleasant.
- Difficult moments should be seen as challenges. They’re starting points for learning and growth.
- Unite tenacity with resistance, motivation with practicality, creativity with opportunity.
- Also, let’s take into account that many of us live in pessimistic environments. If we really want to people optimistic people with the resistant kind of optimism, we’ll sometimes have to change environments. Don’t let them affect you, and leave if you must.
Optimistic people, brave people
Having analyzed all the data, we’ve come to multiple conclusions. First, that the friends or relatives we consider optimistic by nature actually may not have been that way. Maybe they learned it and they fight daily to keep that perspective. Maybe the life approach we find so attractive and take for granted took work.
On the other hand, we need to realize that even the most logical, resistant, rational optimism also has its moments of weakness. In fact, many people have gone through depression because they believed themselves too strong. They thought that optimism gave them a cape of invulnerability, like a real-life superhero capable of handling every need and obligation. But even the bravest person has their weak point, their kryptonite.
Therefore, let’s try to have a more practical view of positivity. Understand that optimistic people don’t hang onto grudges or resentment. They don’t skip over the challenges of the present. Instead, they accept that adversity exists and that they must face it.
Optimistic people surround themselves with good friends. They know how to be grateful and to forgive. Most of all, they make use of their brave, resistant attitude like a kaleidoscope painting a beautiful confidence in the future.
Images courtesy of Nadia Chersakova