You’ve probably heard plenty about positive thinking, but does it work?
Positive thinking and having a positive mindset is all the rage right now. It’s also at the heart of a lot of shaming.
Just thinking positively will NOT cure your cancer. Just thinking positively will NOT get you pregnant, land you the job you always wanted, find you the partner you’ve been looking for, make you rich, or help you to never be sad again…
Telling yourself or someone you know who is struggling to “think positive” is HURTING them.
That’s right, you’re not only not helping them by telling them how to think, you’re shaming them for feeling/thinking whatever it is that they are thinking and feeling.
Positive thinking is *not* the antidote to pain, suffering, and life challenges.
Positivity isn’t a cure-all, just as negativity isn’t the root cause of all personal challenges.
I’m frequently saddened when I witness people shaming themselves (and others) for having raw and sometimes “ugly” feelings versus having shiny-happy-rainbow feelings.
Let’s get back to being real again!
“Emotions have helped us evolve as a species.” –Dr. Susan David
We are human, which means we feel a full range of emotions and have a full range of thoughts. Sometimes our feelings and thoughts are dark, negative, and sad. Sometimes our feelings and thoughts are hopeful, joyful and pleasant.
Positivity isn’t the new healthy. It’s a shield from being real.
What’s also NOT healthy: shaming yourself about having negative thoughts and telling yourself that things would be completely different if you “just think positive” or you always have to think positive and happy thoughts.
Let’s stop making ourselves and other people feel bad for feeling bad. You don’t have to overcome negative thinking patterns because everyone wants you to. Instead, feel what you feel and support others to do the same. Be who you are.
Instead of shaming yourself for
not feeling or thinking a certain way,
work on cultivating compassion for who you are.
How? Try some of these…
1) Name one thing you love about who you are, every day for a week.
2) Think of one way you can be more self-caring or gentle with yourself, then try it out for the week.
3) Close your eyes and feel the power of your whole body working for you. Breathe into 3 separate parts of your body that feel strong, healthy or loving. Notice what it feels like to be connected to yourself in this way.
4) Try something new and no matter how it turns out, write yourself a congratulatory letter about going for it.
5) At the end of each day, write down one thing you did really well.
6) When you notice yourself going into critical self-talk, consider how you would talk to someone you love and reframe the conversation with yourself as if you’re talking with them.
While optimism has some proven benefits (but only for those who are in the 20% who already are “emotionally positive” to begin with), feeling your true feelings and being authentically you has many more positive effects!
P.S. A balance between optimism and space for your full range of feelings has the biggest benefits of all.
P.P.S. Take the MindBody IQ Quiz here. It’s fun and informative!