Give me reality, not relentless positivity.

Riding horse - reality not relentless positivity - Petros - good mental health

I’ve never really been a fan of “looking on the bright side”! Don’t get me wrong, I am one of life’s eternal optimists, but for some people I work with, life really is shit, and suggesting they count their blessings, or think of three things they’re grateful for, seems belittling of their situation and, quite frankly, quite insulting.

Yet, there’s more to dislike of relentless positivity than that and I have had difficulty describing why I feel so ill at ease with ‘Mary Sunshine’ until now.

Yesterday, I fell off my horse.

She slipped on the road and we both came down with quite a thud.

She got up and trotted off and I slowly gathered myself up from the road, checking I could still move all my limbs, and immediately I am telling myself, “It could have been much worse!”

And BINGO – there is the issue with all the positivity! Because, for me, “worse” was:

  • A horse with a broken leg or hit by a passing car.
  • Being dragged along the road with my foot caught in the stirrup.
  • Being crushed on the tarmac under half a tonne of horse
  • Feeling the crack of a broken neck…  This list could be endless!

As soon as I engage with how lucky I am, by necessity, my brain is also busy with just how awful it could have been, unnecessarily raising my anxiety, which could potentially make riding out more stressful and less enjoyable in future…  All this kind of thinking can do is lead to misery.

So, for a situation like this here is the alternative, which actually bears the closest resemblance to reality.

I came off my horse and bruised my shoulder, butt (well padded), elbow and thumb (curious) and it hurt and was a bit of shock.

Today, both Ella and I are a bit stiff but we’re both fine. That’s life and that’s that!

Undaunted and a little wiser, we’re looking forward to our next ride together.

Read more about Professor Jo Clarke, founding and Director of Petros.