by Suzie Doscher
The reason "Just think positive" drives me crazy is that in order to really "think positive," a positive mind-set is necessary. Even naturally positive thinkers can have moments of drifting off into negative thoughts. But their strength is to return to a more positive approach rather than get trapped in the negative place of doom and gloom.
To 'just think positive' it is indeed necessary to have a positive mind-set.
When you are struggling to stay positive about something, you are probably feeling stressed. This might be the result of feeling uncertain or lacking clarity about the situation, person or project, or any number of other reasons. So when I hear that the advice given by a helpful, supportive friend or colleague is to just think positive, I usually will ask: “And exactly how do you suggest your friend or colleague does this while feeling stressed?”
Of course changing your mind-set or perspective from negative to positive is brilliant advice. It is the expectation that this can happen in a flash that drives me crazy. It is not as if you can flick a switch in your mind.
Based on research in the field of neuroscience, stress activates a stress response in the body. One of these responses is that cognitive resources, such as focus and clear, rational thinking, are depleted. It is a fact that when stressful emotions kick in, cognitive resources are the first to be disrupted. Emotions overpower thinking in that moment.
Without creating a safer, calmer environment, your thinking will stay limited. You can switch to feeling and being able to think more positively, by initially breaking the energy of that very moment.
The fastest way to take charge of stress, i.e., negative thoughts, is by involving your senses. Take a walk, listen to music, be creative, cook something, bake a cake...do anything that you find soothing that will distract you from your thoughts right now. As my mother always told me, “Busy hands are happy hands.” If you are at work, allow yourself a short break away from your desk, take a couple of deep breaths and interrupt the energy of your mood in that moment. You can always get something to drink, have a bathroom break or any other short break away you can consider appropriate. Then return to the situation and take another look at it.
This practice applies to life at work, as well as your personal life.
Helpful guidance tips on the type of questions you can ask yourself to feel more positive:
Here are some ideas:
Here are some ideas:
If there is an action you can take, follow through with that.
Sometimes accepting that you cannot do anything to change the situation is the most helpful step. To me, this falls under the heading “You cannot change people, but you can change how you react.” In other words, acceptance might be the most empowering step you can take right now.
This is a skill -- a life skill -- well worth acquiring. It will help you feel stronger, more secure, and more confident. Practice this approach over and over; soon you will be thinking more positively because you know that you can turn things around.
Page 82 in BALANCE - A Practical Handbook and Workbook for Life's Difficult Moments by Suzie Doscher, available in Paperback on Kindle or Audiobook
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