I err on the optimistic side – arguably, to a fault – consistently attempting to see the good in everyone and the positive outcomes in every situation. Moreover, I tend to express more than the average intensity of spirit or enthusiasm. And I’ve been known to shout out in glee for seemingly no reason at all. At times, my positiveness is tested during everyday affairs such as promoting new initiatives to disgruntled colleagues or during much more significant transitions such as my father’s unexpected death and my divorce. As I blogged a few days ago on my One Cannot Earn an F in Life post, life is full of lessons large and small in which we may stumble but always learn from and become a better, stronger person for it. That’s why it can be difficult for me to understand consistently pessimistic people. Why choose to be sad or mad or resentful? Yes, it is a choice.
As Iyanla Vanzant describes in her book Until Today! Daily Devotionals for Spiritual Growth and Peace of Mind, someone with a “goodness allergy” finds something wrong when things are going well. Undoubtedly, as you read this, someone you know is coming to mind. Every one of us knows someone like this. A person such as this tends to focus upon what happened yesterday rather than on the good he is experiencing today. Just as a person allergic to cats tries to stay away from the little critters, a person allergic to good shuns happiness by believing nothing good will occur. Believing begets reality.
A diagnosis for a goodness allergy includes relying on the past. It’s safer because the past is familiar and doesn’t require doing something scary or taking a risk – in fact, it doesn’t require doing anything at all except pining. A goodness allergic stays mad about what happened in the past, keeping the argument going. When the allergy really flares up, this person finds something wrong with how good came or who brought the good. This person questions why he is receiving the good and how much it is going to cost.
A goodness allergy is caused by fear. Fear of getting hurt. Fear of losing what one has. Fear that one doesn’t deserve good because of something done in the past. Fear that if one opens up his heart and mind to receive good, he will have nothing to complain about. At the very, very heart of a goodness allergy is the fear that if nothing is wrong, then one must be all right – and that would be just too good to be true.
True to my optimism, I believe there is a cure. It may not occur right away, the “medicine” may take some time to take effect, but anyone can curtail the symptoms if not erase the allergy altogether. First, acknowledge the allergy. All too often those with the strongest allergies deny it. Second, write it down. I’m a firm believer in the power of writing, and writing it down can be one way to diminish the allergic symptoms. If one spends time writing down all the good things that have happened in a given day (for oneself and because of oneself), it may be easier to concretely see all the good that is truly happening. Ponder over the list and reflect on how you really feel about all the good that you’ve received and have done. The “itch” of the allergy will dissipate soon and be replaced with the contagious feeling of peace and joy. And when all else fails, never underestimate the power of a smile. 🙂