pollyanna is passive aggressive


Why is it when you have a complaint about the world, governmental ineptitude, hair, academic insularity, overcooked spaghetti, other people, xmas glut, phones, public toilets, the arts industries, parties, dumb guy movies, vampires, the patriarchal paradigm or religion some people feel compelled to nullify it by shoving the “bright side” in your face? Or dismiss your “sad, cynical state” with a gentle-yet-smug head shake.

Pollyannas aren’t interested in profound darker truths about life; just light ones. It seems that a day without nighttime is fine with them, and maybe they only prefer inhaling. But, realistically, that isn’t the full, round ambiance of our planet. Shadows materialize and are more “lustrous” in the sun, yet the pollyanna seems blind.

The problem is not just that pollyannas excrete a positive viscosity over life but that they’re illogically optimistic; you can’t discuss serious issues or philosophies and opinions that might touch those nasty banished parts of themselves. They get visibly anxious, start projecting and see you as Debbie Downer. No resolutions can be found to most of life’s events from large to small except: “it’s meant to be” “is god’s plan” or “it all happens for a reason.”

I, too, believe things happen for a reason but not from denial of what is. Contrarily, engaging in what is—be it deemed “negative” or “positive” by the pollyanna—helps me make rational sense of that reason. BTW, my definition of good and bad: what wakes me up is good, regardless of whether or not it feels good, and what’s bad is what puts me ‘to sleep’ even if it feels great.

Pollyannas take genuine truths but twist them into sappy sentiments because they’re not infused with living pain. I didn’t say pollyannas don’t have pain, they’re just so afraid of and powerless in the face of their anguish—apparently never having been taught how to be with it—that they cage it in the cellar and have Golum feed it saccharine: I am the master of my fate! It takes 17 muscles to smile and 43 to frown! Chin up! It’s not happy people who’re thankful but thankful people who’re happy!

I’m sorry for children who aren’t taught to embrace all of their emotions with compassion and I’m sorry for all the rest of us who are judged as being too intense, sad or—heaven forbid—negative. But mostly, I feel sorry for pollyannas and their delusional half-lived state. We can’t really touch them because they’re not yet fully formed.

You can only participate in life’s bliss—which often feels few and far between—if you willingly cuddle with your shadows. Pollyannas seem a long way away from this acceptance as they ‘bright-side-of-life’ their suffering away and discount anyone who reminds them of their ostracized despair.

Let Monty Python take it from here: always look on the bright side of life.

4 thoughts on “pollyanna is passive aggressive

  1. To call those of us who believe in meliorism “Polyannas” is a slur, a reducing of complex belief systems to something simple (and sexist).

    The phrase “the best of all possible worlds” (French: le meilleur des mondes possibles; German: Die beste aller möglichen Welten) was coined by the German polymath Gottfried Leibniz in his 1710 work Essais de Théodicée sur la bonté de Dieu, la liberté de l’homme et l’origine du mal (Essays on the Goodness of God, the Freedom of Man and the Origin of Evil). The claim that the actual world is the best of all possible worlds is the central argument in Leibniz’s theodicy, or his attempt to solve the problem of evil.


  2. Paul, you have to remember that these are mini-rants, not perfectly balanced essays. You know who I am, know that I take balm in nature and beauty and poetry and art…all lovely things. Your defensiveness is not very attractive.

    There is nothing sexist about “Pollyanna”; it’s a literary allusion which was and is completely genderless in intent. Did I hit a nerve? Please reread with an open mind and you’ll see I have nothing against meliorism which IMHO Pollyannas have no effect on doing because one can’t make a better society without accepting “what is.”


  3. No worries. You’re essay makes perfect sense. I’m a passive-aggressive Pollyanna myself and so is the other individual bringing Leibniz into this, I believe. What does Leibniz have to do with your essay on the Pollyanna syndrome? I’m still struggling with passive-aggressive and ultimately, I end up making others feel as negatively as I am. I was the child taught that I had to calm down even when I was being calm. I was raised by a mother who was a more extreme Pollyanna herself (she’s one of those highly manipulative ‘self-sacrificial’ parents, so I’ve always felt emotionally neglected by her and others who exhibit such ‘holier-than-thus’ attitudes moreover, I adopted them because I thought it was effective to feign optimism albeit, it is more effective to be allowing of negative emotion. I was completely wrong and therefore, I’m so angry at myself and my whilom attitudes and beliefs, but I’m glad I know better. Have you ever heard of the spiritual luminary of Teal Swan? She helped me realize that I’m just nothing more than a passive-aggressive Pollyanna. Her videos are helpful.


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