Can being positive thwart personal growth? - Suzanne Heyn

Can being positive thwart personal growth?

being positive thwart personal growth

Over the last two weeks, I spiraled in and out of sadness and stress.  Life seemed to come at me all at once and overwhelmed, I sought refuge underneath the cozy comforter in my bed. Numb. In times like this, I release my need for being positive. Excessive positivity can obliterate opportunities for growth.

I knew somewhere underneath that numbness was sadness, fear, probably a little anger, and a lot of resistance. I wanted to cry, but somehow everything was just so numb.

I let myself fall, wondering the whole time if it would be okay, if I would really come out of it, if the stuff I preach all the time really worked in practice. And thankfully, it did.

My inner light stayed lit the whole time, no matter how dim it became. Faith in the constant movement of life, in my own innate worthiness, lightened my load. And finally, on the other side, life has guided me into new, potentially more fulfilling directions.

How to let go of the need for being positive and grow from sad times


  1. Lean into the hard times

Ultimately, uncomfortable emotions like anger, sadness and fear help us learn more about ourselves. If we’re always convincing ourselves that everything is fine, how will we learn to dig deep for the spiritual wisdom that will help us find peace amid our greatest fears? How will we move from a life that’s fine to one overflowing with inspiration and connection?

Over the past two weeks, it seemed all the major issues of my life reared their heads. I was forced to find new solutions to old problems and recommit to my current path. Being positive would have prevented me from facing truths that I needed to face for growth.


2. Accept your true feelings

Acceptance is the first step towards navigating life challenges with authenticity. It’s only through acceptance that we can determine how to proceed, but acceptance requires a sense of harsh realness, a willingness to be honest about how you really feel.

The desire for being positive comes in different shades. One shade is healthy. It involves looking for the bright side and focusing on the good. But sometimes, positive thinking backfires and turns into delusion. When things don’t feel good, give yourself the freedom to look around and see what’s going on.


3. Grieve

During this fall season, many of us have leaves falling from the trees of our lives. We may grieve what never was, what’s gone, or what never will be. Whatever that looks like for you, it’s important to honor the process. After grief comes healing, and then we can move on in a way that’s authentic. Once you’ve fully healed, good feelings naturally arise.

This is the process of working through the layers that obstruct your inner light. Clinging to the need for being positive or happy all the time interferes with this important process.


4. After a breakdown, comes a breakthrough

During the past couple of weeks, I felt energetically spent. A health scare left me terrified of dying, which as a cancer survivor is always in the back of my mind. Looking deeply into my fear, I realized its brutality came from frustration because I’m not fully living.

Throughout life, we evolve. We reach breaking points that exist to further our growth. After evolving into the next level, it feels breezy, wonderful and expansive until it isn’t anymore. At the point of compression, we need to evolve into a larger way of living. Struggle forces us to grow.

In the struggle, I searched for answers and found that yoga philosophy isn’t giving me everything I need. I realized I’m spending too much time building my future instead of living in the now. And I realized that although I don’t need to travel all the time, I do need more adventure in my life.

Those realizations paved the way for new directions in my life. Letting go of being positive created space for change.


5. Ask for guidance

In my darkest times, I begged the universe to send me guidance. I asked to please be shown how to cope with my fear. Sometimes, guidance comes in the form of an idea, so be sure to look for signs after you’ve asked, with patience because it can take time.

Guidance soon came from a book on Kabbalah that, even in its opening pages, felt like coming home. I also plan to volunteer with hospice to get cozy with my fear of dying. And because I need to have more fun, I’m going to learn how to make pottery. A trip to Big Sur is also on the horizon!

I have hope that these changes will nurture a growing sense of inner fulfillment, just as honestly facing my discontent last summer paved the way to feelings of peace and lightness that I never dreamed possible. It also lead to this blog, my Instagram account as it is today, and glimpses of a new, sublimely gratifying career. It all happened from facing my true feelings and letting go of the need to be positive, which is sometimes more about pleasing others than being authentic to ourselves.


6. Find balance between sinking into discomfort and staying full of hope

Had I uttered positive thinking platitudes during my free fall without investigating the true source of my discomfort, my life would have remained unchanged, a shadow of what it could be.

The key is continuing to search for answers, and not languishing in a puddle of mush. That might be your reality for a day, or a week, but always look inside and ask yourself, “How am I feeling today? What do I need today?”

Don’t fear needing to rest and do nothing. Your body, mind and soul are processing. But when the day comes to move forward, you have to be brave enough to shed the cozy sheets and let the sun shine on your face. You have to continually remind yourself of your goodness, and that this too, shall pass. You have to believe that answers exist, and actively search for them.

As humans, we must keep evolving, questioning, and letting go of the desire to be happy all the time to instead be authentic. 


What is your relationship with being positive? Share your story in the comments below!

Image by Lies through a Lens via Flickr




Suzanne Heyn is a spiritual blogger and online course creator here to help soulful creatives live from the heart. If you're ready to discover your purpose, live in abundance and experience the freedom your heart longs for, you're in the right place. All the wisdom you need is right inside your soul, and I’m here to help you find it.

  • Sadia says:

    This is amazingly written, but I want to know how do you learn to accept? How do you begin the grieving process?

    • Modern Yogi says:

      Hi Sadia,

      Sorry to hear you’re having a rough time. Meditation, movement/yoga, journaling, these are all good ways to feel/process your emotions and sort through your thoughts. Here are some posts on the blog about healing Depending on what you’re grieving, there are also a ton of good books around. Pema Chodron is a wonderful Buddhist writer with healing perspectives about navigating difficult times. Feel free to email me if you’d like more personalized insights. Wishing you well.

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