Ask any man and his dog about positive thinking and they’ll extol the virtues of it. Ok, well maybe the dog won’t , which is a shame, because dogs are generally a lot more positive than humans! Seriously though, the importance of positive thinking is well known. However, knowledge and implementation are two different things. A common assumption is that we are to think positive, not negative. Seriously? Show me one person on the planet that is able to do that!
The fact is, the expectation of avoiding all negative thinking is ludicrous, have you every tried it? Let’s face it, failure is often a very real possibility. Take sports for example, there can only be one winner in a competition. A competitor can think as positively as they want, but it doesn’t guarantee success. Obviously they’re going to experience a certain amount of nervousness. How about if you’re giving a presentation to clinch a deal and a lot is riding on how you deliver it? Maybe your business is going under, and you’ve got a pile of bank statements and bills in front of you making that fact pretty clear. Can you be expected to eliminate all negative thoughts in these situations? Definitely not.
At end of the day, it’s taking the necessary action that gets us the results we want. It’s our performance that we have to focus on and the compulsion to think positively can actually just add an extra burden. Sometimes shit is going down, the outlook is grim and you have to take decisive action. Spending time gritting your teeth and straining your brain trying to be positive ain’t gonna cut it.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying positive thinking doesn’t work, if you can do it, do it! I’m just saying it’s not possible to do it all the time. In fact, it’s probably a good thing we don’t. Being too positive can actually be detrimental. How? Let’s go back to the example of someone whose business is struggling. Just thinking positive about the situation and saying something like “I’m sure things will pick up soon” can actually breed complacency and cause someone to defer on taking affirmation action to remedy the situation. Or how about an athlete who decides the event is “in the bag” and lets up on their training and/or performance on the field? Get what I’m saying?
So while we can’t avoid all negative thinking, what is in our control is how we deal with it. And I’ll tell you what, when it comes down to dealing with negative thoughts, a lot of people give Nostradamus a friggin’ run for his money . “I’m filing for bankruptcy , my life is over. ” “Now that this relationship has ended, there’s nothing else to live for “. Really? In each of those statements there is a fact and an interpretation. The first half is the fact, such as “I’m filing for bankruptcy”. Their life is over though? So they’re going to keel over and die the minute the papers are submitted?
In any given situation, you can play the victim or you can take control. Analyse what you’re saying. Is there any legitimacy to it? It is provable beyond a shadow of a doubt? Oftentimes not. Here’s a tip. When you hear yourself catastrophizing, seperate yourself from that thought. Instead say something like, “I feel like my life is over”. That causes a transition from something you “are” to something you’re just thinking. That will put you in a better position to deal with it. It allows you to be more objective.
We don’t have to take action on every thought. God help us if we did! I probably wouldn’t be here writing this if I had, I can tell ya! If a thought doesn’t work for you, ditch it. If it does, meaning acting on it will take you where you want to go, then do so.
The conclusion. Take control of your thoughts, don’t let them control you!