Last week, I talked about why it’s impossible to be Polly Positive all the time and that it’s normal and even healthy to be negative at times. It’s normal to allow yourself time to be sad or angry, just don’t move there permanently.
Knowing this and doing it are two different things though because you have to learn to respond to Polly in one way or another. So, what is the best way to respond to Polly Positive when she strikes? How you choose to respond is going to be different depending upon your personality, your mood, and what was said, but I do have some ideas. It’s best to have a few options in mind for when brain fog or anger sets in. Here are a few ideas for you.
My best advice for times when something is said in passing or it’s someone new is to ignore. Silence is a great option because it requires little effort. It also doesn’t require any thought on your part and is a fairly quick resolution. I let the other person think what they want as long as I don’t need to expend any effort. This is my go-to option for when I’m tired, frustrated, or don’t really care what the other person thinks of me because I’m probably never going to see them again anyway.
Method number two is to gently remind. If I have more time, Polly is really pushing the issue, or she’s doing it in front of friends who are of the same opinion that it’s possible to be positive every moment of your life no matter what. “Everyone gets frustrated (or angry or down or sad) once in a while.” is a great response because most people would have to agree. “I just need to vent.” is another great one because most have felt this way too. “It’s not being negative to feel down once in a while; it’s only negative if you live there.” is another great one. Find something you feel comfortable with and have that at the ready just in case you happen upon Polly at some point.
Sometimes this can lead to a more lengthy discussion of what negative really means and if you’ve got the time and inclination to get into this discussion, by all means, do! However, there are times when it’s too taxing to get into it, especially if the one you’re talking to is just not willing to listen. It’s in these situations that I say something like, “If you dealt with all of the issues I have to, you might feel differently, but I just don’t have the energy to discuss it with you right now.”
Whenever I see a person who is unwilling to listen to reason, I deem that person toxic to my well being and I walk away from the situation or the person for a while or for good. This is an extreme situation and I don’t find this often, but it is an option you have. You should never feel that you need to put up with the stress of someone who is constantly berating you for not living up to whatever perfection they require. I haven’t had to use this technique too often, but I give myself permission to do so, if necessary.
My only caveat here is if that toxic person is a close relative or lives in your home. If that is the case, I suggest you ask them to put themselves in your shoes and/or have them go with you to your doctor’s appointment and have your doctor explain it to them.
*I do understand that there are still some doctors who don’t believe their patients. If that is the case, my prayers are with you.
What are things Polly has said to you that were unhelpful? How did you respond? How would you wish you had responded? How can that help you in the future?