A few weeks ago, we discussed toxic positivity. Toxic positivity is when we conceal or minimize sadness, anxiety, or stress with positivity. We learned that this isn’t really positivity, but an inauthentic attempt to mimic positivity. We may even search for “silver linings” or reasons to justify our suffering.
What we’re talking about today isn’t any of that. Rather, it’s the simple fact that you do come out on the other side of hard times with more than you came in with. That’s why it’s worth admitting and fully experiencing your feelings.
Here are a few good things we get from feeling bad.
Compassion for others who feel the same.
In the past, there may have been someone in your life who irritated you with their anxious behaviors or worried you with the way they disconnected when sad. After you’ve been through these things yourself you come away with empathy. Empathy is the seed from which compassion grows. So ultimately, you become a better friend and partner by struggling on your own.
Compassion is something that is magically given back to you when you yourself give it freely. Over time, you’ll notice that you feel less alone during your low points.
Healthy coping techniques.
At the end of dark days - or at least days that are slightly brighter - you understand what works and what doesn’t. Maybe you found that pushing people away and poor eating habits only made things worse. But on the other hand, you see that journaling, acceptance, and singing bowls made a difference here and there.
Now you know what to do the next time things go south. And that can change how long or severely a stressful time impacts you.
Learning how resilient you are.
You thought you couldn’t do it, but you did. In fact, we’re often thinking, “I can’t do this,” at the precise times we’re already doing it. Even if you’re currently under quite a bit of stress, you haven’t caved.
We’re built to survive negative emotions. It feels intolerable, but you always manage to withstand them, no matter how terrible it feels, because you are resilient. The bad things we’re waiting for seldom happen.
Capitalizing on your strengths.
People who grew up poor or oppressed have something incredible in common - they’re resourceful. They know how to do amazing things with what they’re given. When a tough situation arises, which of your strengths do you call on? You won’t know unless you put it to the test.
Maybe you’re good at soothing yourself with compassionate self-talk, or your creativity is at an all-time high when you’re pressed for time. No matter the situation, it’s safe to say that challenges highlight something you’re good at.
On a piece of paper, in your head, or in the comments of this post, answer these questions and see what you already know from times of struggle:
- When was the last time you felt compassion for someone else and why?
- What is your best coping technique?
- What is the hardest thing you’ve ever gotten through?
- In your opinion only, what are your two biggest strengths?