When Not To Use Positive Thinking


 

Abstract:
 

What? After all, you’ve heard me say numerous times that a focus on the positive makes for a happier, more productive life.
 

I still stand by this. But I’d like to once again fight the mistaken belief that in order to be successful or achieve anything, you have to be relentlessly positive. Apart from the fact that it’s impossible, it’s also not healthy or conducive to happiness.
 

Your mission is to learn where and how to use positive thinking.
 
 

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Task 1: Learn when not to use positive thinking

 

Here are two examples of situations where trying to force positivity does more harm than good.
 

  1. Calamities. Someone you love has died. An earthquake has destroyed your home. When life throws shit at you, don’t “keep smiling”. Suppressing emotions is damaging for your psychological health, so allow your feelings. All of them. Get help if needed.
  2. Mental illness. You can’t use positive thinking to overcome depression. Depression is not just a bad mood you need to “get over”, and neither are other mental illnesses or remnants of trauma. Give yourself the time and space to heal, and again, get the help you need.

 

positive thinking

Photo by Simone Viani on unsplash.com


 

Task 2: Develop a positive attitude

 

The realm of positive thinking is in your everyday life, and around everyday challenges. It takes time to develop an attitude that’ll have you habitually look on the bright side, but it’s not something you’re either born with or not – you can learn this. Here are three ways to get started.
 

  1. Gratitude: Every day, take a few minutes to feel gratitude.
  2. Mind the gap: Use the famous gap between what happens and your reaction (I’ve found it! It was Viktor Frankl), to consciously choose a positive approach.
  3. 3. The big picture: A situation might seem overwhelming now, but think how you’ll see it a year from now.

 

Habits take time to form. Stay committed, and your life and happiness will transform.

Why Positive Thinking Doesn’t Work

Positive Thinking, Wild Spirits Coaching

Wait, what? Isn’t positive thinking the cure-all prescribed by countless self-help books and Coaches, including myself?
 

Not quite. Focusing on the positive is indeed beneficial. However, it can be actively harmful to believe that you can change your life by positive thinking only. If you’ve ever done any Coaching with me, you’ll know that mindset is just one of the factors which need to be in place. The same goes for all areas of life.
 

I see the attraction of a formula like: “All it takes is positive thinking”. Humans like simple truths. It’s like someone is offering to solve all your problems at the push of a button.
 

What if I showed you a slightly more complex, but still simple formula that actually works, instead?
 
 

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1. The framework

 

Many people either don’t bother with this step, because they think it’s not important, or they get stuck in doing this but nothing else. I challenge you to fall into neither of these groups and realise that this is a critical step – there’s a reason why it comes first – but it’ll only give you the results you wish for if you continue with the next steps afterwards.
 

The framework is what you could call the mind’s work. You need to get clear on what it is you want, and put your intention into writing. It’s where goals come into play.
 

Say you need more money. Your goal will be a certain amount of extra cash earned by a certain date (it’s important to give specifics. Vague goals like “more money” don’t work). It might also be to save a particular amount each month.
 

If your goal is to attract the partner of your dreams, state what you want from the relationship. I don’t recommend describing your ideal partner beyond a few general characteristics like kindness and honesty, because love famously often looks quite different from what we were expecting.
 

The most important part of this step is to put your goal into writing. Be as specific as you can and add a deadline to it.
 
 

2. Lighting the fuse

 

Now that you know exactly what it is you’re striving for, you’ve got to kindle a flame underneath your goal. This is where emotions come in. If your goal is only rational and resides in your brain, it won’t do you much good. Incidentally, this is why positive thinking alone doesn’t do much good! If it’s only in your head, you’ll have trouble manifesting your goal in the real world, because the world consists of more than just your rational mind.
 

Ways of getting excited about your goal include to daydream about it, share it with your best friend, go and look at the end result (for instance, if you want a house, you could drive around and look for houses which match your dream, or browse real-estate websites).
 

Infuse some fun and passion into this; the idea is to get fired up whenever you think of your goal! Don’t think that this is silly or inappropriate; emotion is what manifests things. If you are looking for a new job, you may not want to arrive at the interview giggling, but you do want to have a good laugh beforehand so you’ll arrive looking happy, relaxed, and confident.
 

Be playful and creative with this. Whatever you can think of – as long as it works, go for it! And if you have trouble coming up with anything, you may want to consider some Passions Priority Coaching.
 
 

3. Buckling down

 

This is the part most people don’t want to do. It’s what suspiciously looks like work, and often is. You could call it the physical part of making things happen.
 

Quite simply, you need to take action, and it should be focused and consistent. It may seem obvious, but think about it: How many people fall down here? How many times have you made plans in your mind and not followed through? Everyone is guilty of this every now and then.
 

The way to avoid your goals dissolving into thin air here, is to keep working on the first two areas, in the shape of regularly reviewing your goals and making adjustments where needed, and finding your joy and passion for them. This will keep you motivated to put in the actual work.
 

It might not be as easy as simple positive thinking, but it’s definitely not complicated! If you keep the three steps in mind, you’ll be able to pinpoint any issues faster and move past them.