Not long ago I was accused of being a Polyanna. It was not meant as a compliment.
As a family member proclaimed a litany of complaints about a recent event in his life, I piped up with a positive spin on the situation. He glared as he fussed, “There you go, always looking for something good. You’re just a Polyanna.” I managed to throttle my laughter.
Though not intended as such, I accepted the accusation as a compliment. For years I lived with a lot of fear disguised as anger. Anger isn’t as uncomfortable as fear. It feels more powerful and righteous. One day I decided I was tired of living and feeling angry all the time. I asked a dear Friend to help me. He knows me inside and out.
I dissected my anger and discovered it was mostly a cover-up for fear. It took a while, but I finally figured out where most of the fear/anger came from and the ridiculousness of it. Misinterpretations of life from my childhood perspective, lies I’d believed, unrealistic expectations I’d conjured up from who knows where, feelings of inadequacy and rejection… all the usual that most of us deal with. After getting my thinking straightened out and accepting the fact that we humans make mistakes even when we’re doing what we think is best, I recognized the illogic of anger and worry. Things happen whether or not I worry. The only control I really have is over my own thoughts/attitudes.
These later years of my life have been, and still are, far happier since my angry, worried, fearful years. Sure, excavating those deeply hidden thoughts and memories hurt, all that shame and grief exposed. Like excising a golf ball-size boil on the battle field with no anesthesia. But it was time to take off the band aid of anger and gouge out those painful, infectious thought patterns. It was time to graft in healthy thinking so I could really live. I’ll forever be grateful to my faithful Friend who guided the process and encouraged me along the way, assuring me it would be worth it.
Definition of Pollyanna https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Pollyanna
: a person characterized by irrepressible optimism and a tendency to find good in everything
I happily accept the Merriam-Webster definition of Pollyanna, but not the verb form from the Urban Dictionary. I focus on the good, but I don’t deny or refuse to see the bad. I acknowledge fearful things, but also remind myself I can’t control them. I do what I can do, but refuse to worry. I think about good things. I do things I like to do. I interact with other people and enjoy life. Of course, I have my moments when I begin to slide back into the mental mire. It doesn’t last long, however. That dark cloud over my head is miserable, so I boomerang back to my joy and revel in my freedom.
Yes, I’m a Pollyanna, and I’m pleased if someone else thinks so.
Image from https://faceabookinfo.wordpress.com/2015/04/30/pollyanna-by-eleanor-h-porter/