Do we really know what positive thinking is? We are assuming that it implies seeing the world through rose colored glasses by glossing over the negative aspects of life. However, Pawsitive thinking actually means approaching life’s challenges with a positive outlook. The constant pressure by emojis and inspirational quotes through Facebook, Instagram, twitter and other social networks to keep your chin up in the face of pain or adversity, can have the opposite effect on women going through breast cancer. The pressure to always look on the bright side can be isolating and depressing. This issue can also be true for the families supporting these women. Seems as though everyone feels the need to put on a happy face.
I have heard from women and families that they feel pressure to be positive. Well-meaning family and friends tell their loved ones to “look on the bright side, or be positive, or things will be better tomorrow.” Our unending need as a society to find the silver lining in a challenging diagnosis and treatment protocol can be hard to hear for people dealing with breast cancer who may just need for their pain and grief to be acknowledged. Some of this perpetual need comes from not being educated about the intricacies of a diagnosis. In my opinion this need comes straight out of our primal fear. Fear of not fully knowing our loved one’s treatment outcome, fear of watching our loved one suffer, the palpable physical, psychological and emotional pain you almost feel that you were the one diagnosed; And knowing there is little we can do to comfort them. Is it really possible to balance pawsitivity and negativity when it comes to breast cancer?
Being too positive can be stifling, so can being too negative. Living in depression and anxiety can be detrimental to a women’s treatment outcome, and dealing with these feelings can help her become more resilient in coping with treatment. Pawsitivity comes from recognizing and appreciating lunch with friends, the smell of fresh cut grass, fresh brewed coffee, puppy’s breath, or just putting on a favorite pair of Pajamas; but pawsitivity can also be learned by recognizing the shock, fear, desperation, and lack of control in this situation. Just being able to acknowledge these thoughts and feelings can be healing. Even if it is just for a moment. So, to answer the question can there be a balance of pawsitivity and negativity when diagnosed with breast cancer. I say NO. When facing a life or death diagnosis there are an array of emotions, which can change moment to moment, as I witnessed by watching my mother pass of pancreatic cancer. The balance is in acceptance of whatever the emotions are in that moment, not trying to change, alter or remove them. In acceptance comes change and change is pawsitive.
One final thought: Before we start Pawsitively trying to persuade our friend, family member or loved one that they will be okay, Maybe, we just need to acknowledge that they may not be, which might encourage more pawsitivity.