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  • suzjennifer62

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot (sniff) paint,’ then by all means (sniff) paint, and that voice will be silenced." - Vincent Van Gogh

Springtime in the desert, a time for basking in the warming sun. A time to savor the many smells of blooming flora, and a time to say hello to the awakening fauna. The prime season when winter loosens its icy grip and our hearts are colored by the promise of brighter days.

So why am I feeling so dreary? A perpetually positive person, I am usually gleaming with enthusiasm. To bolster someone’s spirit, I tried give positive energy, and I was told sometimes I am too positive. I was called “toxically positive,” to use the popular term. Quoting, their definition is “toxic positivity rejects all difficult emotions in favor of a cheerful and often falsely-positive façade.”

That does not describe me. Offering positive vibes doesn’t mean ignoring anyone’s negative feelings, including my own. Acknowledging and sharing in someone’s feelings can be beneficial for healing. It can seem patronizing when someone offers comfort. You may think someone couldn’t possibly know what you are going through, but that doesn’t make it toxic. In order to support my integrity, here’s a recent example of me not rejecting “all difficult emotions.”

Over the past year, I have had an increase in inadequate feelings as a handler. I have used those feelings to become better. Seeking information, I have gained knowledge, accepted advice, learned from feedback. Not that it helps, but I realize that feelings of inadequacy are the single most consistent thing that ails us all.

We know nose work is an emotional sport. We have an emotional bond with our dogs. Our need to succeed makes us vulnerable to an outcome, and the vulnerability opens us up to being hurt. Known as “the looking-glass effect”, we place too much importance on the opinions of our peers and feel it deeply if we interpret their feedback from a negative perspective. Maybe what comes across as toxic positivity is a defensive position we take to battle our own insecurities.

Even with all the support, the learning, and my consistently cheerful outlook, I feel as though there is still much I lack in my handling skills. Moving forward into accepting the reality, I choose to think positively. Focusing on that which is good, I do things that are fun and rewarding. I look for things outside the parameters of that which leaves me feeling insecure. I change the perspective.

Even when it rained on our plans, we reveled in the beauty and felt the healing vibes by changing our perspective. Sedona, AZ 3-13-24

“The dispute between perception and perspective is settled by reality.”
― Eduvie Donald

The truth is, each of us has our own perspective based on the reality we perceive. Misunderstanding happens in our own mind when we perceive what is unreal or unintended. No matter how much perspective you have, if it’s not tethered to reality, it can leave you with difficult, negative emotions. That is where ‘non-toxic’ positivity comes in and this describes me.

I choose to see things in a positive light. That doesn’t mean I don’t see negativity. To ignore that there is bleakness out there is not healthy. Seeing a person who appears perpetually positive as toxic without knowing the complete story perpetuates the negativity you perceive. As always, accusing someone of something reflects on you.

The red of an apple and the green of a tree are the color you see because the object reflects it. Everything is all the colors except the ones you see. If you see me rejecting negativity, it means I am not that color. Look closer and you will see all the colors of positivity I hold inside. That is me.

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