All my career I heard that phrase. In advertising, they practically force fed it.
When did we become so fake that anything other than bliss was off limits? There are times when a warped or dark point of view is funny.
One time, we did an ad for Ethyl (now under another name.) It was for a fireproof suit. We featured a photo of a guy walking through fire with the suit on and the headline was something like, “Our guys walk through hell to test our suits.” The client loved it. Except for one thing. Could we make it more “positive?” Remove that client trigger word “hell” and the headline was perfect to them. “Our guys walk to test our suits?” That sucked all the life out of the headline.
After Charles suicide, it wasn’t said literally but implied. Why can’t I look at the bright side? People wanted to move me from sad like it was their duty to make me happy again when all I really needed was someone to listen and let me talk about Charles for a few minutes. I managed to find joy again but not before being very sad for a long time. That’s grief. It doesn’t mean something is wrong with me or that I needed a cure. Sadness is natural after a soul-crushing loss.
I can look on the bright side. But it doesn’t mean I can live there nonstop. Feelings are temporary and I often slap myself in the face with positive when I start to get negative. Usually, giving myself grief.
“Oh so you think you’ve not heard back because it’s some personal vendetta? They don’t even know you so you have not even surfaced on their radar. People are just busy! Keep trying.” So I do use positive self talk when I get ridiculous.
Then I occasionally get someone who asks me if I can keep the story of my son’s suicide positive. Like a tear shed by someone in the audience is a trophy that signifies event failure. When I present, people laugh, they cry, they feel! Because what I’m about is keeping it real. None of that fake attitude. It’s never hopeless.
I do believe in positive thinking but not invalidating someone’s feelings of being in a different mood because it’s uncomfortable for me. If being positive means being fake, I’m not doing it.
I regret telling Charles to look for the silver lining all the time. What was I thinking? I could drag him out of the darkness and into the light with my stupid parental advice? Like he’d just lap it up and say, “Oh my gosh, mom, thank you for that wisdom! I’ll tattoo that on my ass so I remember it always.”
I know how much I hated the positive phrase. How was the silver lining one different? Nothing I can do about that now. At least I know it inspired a song he wrote that I really love.