Ever get the feeling that despite all your efforts to try and think more positive, you actually end up feeling worse, like you’re a failure for not ‘getting it’? Read on to see why you are not alone and what to do when the bubble of positive thinking bursts…
The positive psychology movement has been growing in popularity over recent years, providing endless inspiring quotes and memes that bombard our social media pages. Generally always coupled with a perfectly posed picture of happiness.
Maybe we’re feeling a bit out of sorts, we’re going through a hard time or just looking for that extra thing that will give us a boost…
So we try and follow all the ‘rules’. We say affirmations each morning in the mirror, we smile at everyone we meet, we put all of our energy into only thinking ‘good’ thoughts.
And at the end of the day we feel strangely tired and still somewhat empty inside…
Well I’m here to tell you, you’re not alone.
Whilst I do advocate much of what positive psychology promotes, after all, I too am concerned with people living their best fulfilled life, I believe it’s just been somewhat skewed and this can have a negative impact on people’s well-being. Let’s explore some more shall we..?
- There’s no such thing as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ emotions
The whole spectrum of feelings and emotions are a valuable part of the human experience. Anger can show us where we believe there is an injustice and prompt us to take action, sadness can guide us to a part of us that maybe feels unloved or neglected, hurt can reveal a part of us that needs some healing and nurturing.
The point is, they all reveal something if only we take some time to tune in and ask. If we’re too busy trying to stay happy all of the time, we miss out on truly valuable and life changing wisdom held within ourselves.
2. The energy deficit
It takes a huge amount of energy to try and re-program our thoughts. Think of your normal ways of thinking like driving down a motorway you drive every day. You can chug along almost on autopilot. Compare that to when there is a sudden accident and you need to divert off onto another unknown road. Suddenly you have to concentrate so much more, leaving you feeling much more tired at the end of your journey. Now you might discover that the diverted route was a pleasant one and you’ll use that in the future. It will still take a few journeys for that one to become your default autopilot route.
And the same is true for our thoughts. They become ingrained pathways and we have to ‘rewire’ them. Using this method alone takes a lot of energy, and if we’re already struggling, it can feel like hiking up a hill with a lead weight on our feet.
3. The failure cycle
So you’ve read some quotes and you’re feeling inspired. You wake up, listen to some affirmations and repeat them in the mirror. You don’t believe them but you do it anyway. You smile at yourself, you don’t believe that either but hey ho, nothing ventured, nothing gained. A colleague at work confides in you about a recent struggle in their family, they are clearly upset and you can feel that, but you encourage them to be positive. They nod, and you know deep down it’s not what they needed to hear. You get home and your partner isn’t in the least bit helpful, you feel resentful, but you put a smile on and remember your affirmations ‘I’m strong and independent’.
By the time you get to bed, you’re recounting all of the ways you’ve tried to be positive today and it hasn’t worked. You feel like a failure. ‘It must be me, I must be broken somehow.’
All of which only adds to everything you’re already feeling.
So what’s the answer?
- Get real with ourselves
The second we dare to embrace all of ourselves; the light, the dark, the strengths, the weaknesses, the pain and the pleasure, we discover its there to help us, to guide us, to heal us.
We are so often conditioned to look to the external world for answers, when so much of what we need is accessed within. But not just in our minds, within our bodies.
It’s vital that we learn to ‘tune in’ to ourselves and get curious. Ask our body a question and listen to what it has to say. You’ll be surprised, I promise.
2. Thinking Vs doing
Our mind is a powerful thing no doubt. But we so often get locked in it. We allow our thoughts to take over and dictate our lives. So yes 100% there is a need to take back control of these thoughts but ‘doing’ rather than ‘thinking’ will always lead to quicker, more transformational results.
Let’s use an example; you’re afraid of public speaking but you dream of one day doing a Ted talk. Whenever you think about being on stage in front of others you are consumed by negative thoughts and anxiety. You watch videos on delivering a good talk, you read books on building your self confidence, you watch countless other speakers and marvel at how they do it.
These are all commendable actions, but the quickest route to doing a talk, is doing a talk.
Start small, start with your pets in the kitchen as an audience, but start. Allow yourself to fail and falter and feel afraid, but do it regardless, and watch as your neural pathways miraculously rewire themselves.
3. The success cycle
So it’s likely you’re very familiar with the failure cycle, well it’s more of a downward spiral isn’t it? So let’s work on a success cycle. Rather than being consumed with what are the ‘right’ thoughts or actions to do today, decide which action is going to help you right now in this moment. Don’t be quick to answer, breathe into your body wisdom and hear what it has to say. It might be ‘put down that burger and grab a smoothie’, ‘wow your eyes are sparkling today, go spread some good vibes’ ‘I’m frustrated today, let’s go for a walk and get some fresh air’.
With every action you take from that place, you are building success. And that becomes its own life force, like a snowball gathering momentum rolling down a hill.
And it feels sooo good because it’s coming from you. You are honouring yourself time after time and guess what? The more you do it, the more that neural pathway is used, and the easier it becomes.
This is the key that unlocks our true potential. It’s not forced, it doesn’t require all our energy, it just requires a different approach.
There’s lots of help and resources to help you deepen your relationship with yourself in my Inner Circle Membership program.