One of the interesting things about reading blogs, especially the comments, and facebook stuff, too, is seeing how differently people do things. (It’s also why I liked Wife Swap back when we got ABC.)
One of my friends mentioned being discouraged about a project, and most of the commenters said things like “no, it’s going to be great.”
I already know I’m weird. One of the ways I’m weird is that this kind of encouragement can backfire for me. It sort of puts some pressure on reality, that it had better conform to everyone’s positive expectations or the world will end. Sometimes the way it’s phrased doesn’t help — “no negativity!” to me sounds like an order to deny, repress, or otherwise get rid of anything unpleasant, as if unpleasant things could be wished or willed away.
What works better for me, as I’ve mentioned here before, is to acknowledge first of all that what I fear may actually happen, and secondly to affirm that even the worst case scenario won’t destroy me. This approach allows me to fully feel my negative feelings — fear, anger, despair — and to face the specifics of the potential circumstances that provoke those feelings, without being overthrown by them. It encourages me to practice faith in a good and loving God who carries me through anything, rather than faith in a particular outcome God may or may not provide.
Sometimes I try to encourage my friends in the same way that works for me. Sometimes I wonder if they think I’m actually trying to discourage them, as if by acknowledging that the bad thing they fear may in fact happen, I’m wishing that it would. Or that such acknowledgment will open the door through which the bad thing can come. I hope that’s not how my efforts come across. And I need to remember that in the same way, other folks mean well when they try to tell me (or my friends) not to think negatively.