Being positive

Many people with a serious illness feel that they should 'be positive'. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with an illness, you may be advised by other people to ‘think positively’. However, that’s not always easy – a lot of people have periods of feeling low at some time in their lives.

What is being positive?

Positive thinking means different things to different people. However, generally it is about facing up to the situation, and finding ways of coping with it. People do this in many ways. What works for one person may not work for another.

When you talk to people with a serious illness, even the most positive of them will admit to low times when they felt depressed and anxious. No one can be positive 100% of the time. It’s important that you don’t feel that you must always stay on top of things. Being positive doesn’t mean having to feel happy and cheerful all the time. It’s a positive thing to acknowledge and talk about your feelings – even when you’re feeling tired, worried, depressed or angry.

There may be times when you want to talk about a difficult topic like the chance of your illness being cured or making a will. Comments about being positive are then not always helpful – in fact, they can be very upsetting.

Last updated:
18 September 2019