Addicted to Affirmation
A Fringe Disgruntlement Special Report
Oh, how I long for the day when a person could bitch and moan about the realities of life without being smothered by someone out to make the world a more cheerful place.
I’d like to rag for awhile on the hopeful and up beat.
It seems that some people love hard times, and the worse things get the more cheerful and positive they become. For awhile, when I met someone who was positive about the negative I’d think “the poor dummy clearly doesn’t understand what’s going on” or perhaps “fear of reality has driven this poor dummy to believe in fairies.” Currently, I hold the opinion that both of those things are true, and there is something even more sinister afoot: these ninnies are addicted to the “feel-good” properties of endorphins produced when we feel good. These people are hope junkies, getting high on rainbows and happy thoughts and plush puppies.
I will be the first to admit that “positive thinking” has its place. Denial and self-deceit are vital tools in carrying on even though life is going to kill us all sooner or later. Most true happiness comes from ignoring what sucks and focusing on what shines about life. If young people didn’t have hope and determination beyond all reason none of them would ever have a kid or get a job. As “affirmation heads” would be quick to point out, life is a mix and you can decide what things mean; why not decide to make them the best you can?
The answer is simple: it ignores too much of the grit of reality, it allows us to accept too much we should rebel against. It engenders a kind of euphoria for that which hasn’t arrived and likely won’t. The louder we speak our affirmations, the more we secretly fear what they compensate for.
It’s classic addictive behavior. Giving up endless positive affirmations means going through a cold turkey phase where you admit to and deal with all the irrational and rational fears the positive affirmations were there to mask. We’re flawed; the world is brutal and uncaring; death is always just around the corner. Facing reality without the bottle, needle or daily affirmation can make any of us sweat ice water in the dark of the night. It’s a big drop from the rainbow euphoria of endless possibilities to the lightless pit of limited probability.
That is not to say that positive affirmation doesn’t have a place for those of us who can handle it. Used occasionally, like strong drink or joy riding or shooting inside the house, it can be beneficial to our mental health. After all, things often work out better than they should have. Life is full of surprises, and some of them have to be good. We do only get one shot at life, and if we don’t bullshit ourselves a little to make things smoother, we rush ourselves to the grave.
So, use positive affirmation modestly, and watch for these warning signs in yourself or those you love or even your enemies, which can signal affirmation addiction:
- Cheerfulness, energy, health consciousness.
- The irrepressible impulse to say “awwwwww” when presented with a puppy or kitty.
- A child-like oblivion to the plummeting cliffs and eager shards of the rocks of reality.
- A tendency toward veganism.
- A fascination with rainbows, hummingbirds, butterflies, sunsets, and beaches.