Wait…What Did I Just Think?
I woke up feeling like crap. One of those depressive days that arrive unannounced, bringing joint aches and other friends along with it. “Today is a bad day”, was the very first thought that surfaced in my mind. Quite the positive thinker, as you can tell.
And then, I paused to think about what I had just thought about without even thinking about it. You know, a subconscious reflexive thought that we often accept as truth without even questioning it.
I Hate to be a ‘Positive Thinker’
To clarify, I hate unicorn rainbow thinking that ignores root causes, covering problems up rather than dealing with them. It is a form of escapism and idealism to me. It’s worse when other people use it as a “I don’t want to hear anymore of your boring topic, let’s end it” catch-all phrase. (P.s. This also applies to situations where they cut you off mid-sentence to say, “let’s pray”. A post for another time.)
That is not to say you aren’t allowed to be a positive thinker in this manner. If it helps you deal with your situation, then that’s a good thing. What nourishes one type of personality is destructive to another, and I believe that the definition of what a ‘positive thinker’ entails is different for us all.
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The Frequent Battle Within Me
This leads to a frequent battle of body and mind within me. “Today is a bad day.” I lie in bed feeling awful, then I start to feel guilty about all the tasks on my todo list that I won’t be able to accomplish, and feel even more miserable. It is a vicious and stupid cycle, because it isn’t my fault, and beating myself up about it is only going to turn the bad day into a worse one.
It also sets up the framework of how I will be approaching the rest of my day, whether I’m aware of it or not. I will probably end up sick on the sofa, feeling useless and frustrated. Then I might reach out to junk food for lunch, and contribute to the neverending pile of household chores.
I don’t want to force myself to be a positive thinker and go, “Today is a good day! Yay!”, because it feels self-deceptive and shallow. (Once again, if it actually motivates you – go for it. I am just sharing my thoughts and personal methods of coping here.)
So what ends up happening is that I allow “today is a bad day” to be the bad day that I had assumed it would be. I know, I’m so ‘real’ and ‘human’ 😉
Looking at Things from a Different Perspective
So here’s a little trick I’ve learned. I can take that sentence and turn it into another truth, simply by changing my perspective on it. I can take “today is a bad day” and look at it as “today is a good day for resting”. Or “today is a good day for reading that book I keep neglecting as I always want to ‘do’ stuff”. Or “today is a good day to have a party in bed”. Or even “today is a great day to do nothing. Sometimes that’s good for the soul, right?”.
Once I reframe my thought, I immediately feel lighter. The weight of guilt, frustration, anger and blame lifts. I set myself free from the trappings of my own thoughts. It is another complimentary, if unasked for, practice session on genuine positive thinking. Positive in the sense of addition, a plus, an accumulation. Not to run from a problem, but to rise above it. To exercise our ability to adapt, which is after all, how human beings have survived since the beginning of time.
*Note: This article is meant for educational purposes and is based on the author’s personal experiences. It is not to be substituted for medical advice. Please consult your own doctor before changing or adding any new treatment protocols.
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This article was first published to Thrive Global on October 11, 2017.
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