Today I’d like to clear something up. I am not positive! Stop calling me positive! I’ve been accused of this for years now, and it’s gotten worse since I declared 2016 to be The Year of the Happy Train. We must stop this madness. Because you know what? I’m not really that positive. I’m realistic. That’s what I’m going for, anyway, and life is so much smoother that way, at least for me and for most of the people that I know and that I see in my office. Relax as best you can and just stick to the facts. “What’s going on right now? What’s the situation? What am I reacting to? Is there anything that can be done? What’s the first step?” Most people are just so negative, though, that in comparison I look like Mr. Sunshine.
I’m making light of this, but there’s an important point to it. People come into my office all the time assuming they should “be more positive.” And then they crucify themselves when they’re not. Pretty clever mind trick, huh? Nobody can say we aren’t brilliant, even in our madness. Especially in our madness… That’s why I’m not so into this positivity stuff; it ends up being just another opportunity for us to fail and then beat ourselves up. If I notice I’m thinking that same old negative chatter, but I’ve learned that I should be thinking more positively, what do you think the next thoughts might be? It might sound something like this: “You suck! You’re supposed to be thinking more positively now! You’re failing at this, too!” Nice. And I’m talking this way to myself??
So here’s the difference. Positive thinking is oftentimes unrealistic. Let’s say we want to tell ourselves that it’ll all be fine. Well, the problem is that we know it might not all be fine. The outcome that I don’t want to happen totally might happen, and I know this deep down. So my attempt at positive thinking sounds sort of like this, with the chatterbox giving its commentary in bold: “It’ll all be fine… BS… It’ll all be fine… BS… It’ll all be fine… BS…”
What, then, does the reality version look like? Maybe something like this. And read it s-l-o-w-l-y, because that’s how our built-in intelligence talks. “Wow, I notice I’m really hoping this certain outcome happens [relaxing, loving breath]. I sure hope it does; that would be awesome [relaxing, loving breath]. What if it doesn’t, though? [relaxing, loving breath]. If it doesn’t, then I’ll have to do deal with it; but by doing one thing at a time, of course [relaxing, loving breath, while maybe thinking through the scenario slowly]. But I’ll do my best regardless. In the meantime, is there anything I can do now? Let me think about that for a minute [relaxing, loving breath].” And now you’re in a totally different place; you feel different. And there’s more space in your mind for inspired ideas and solutions to pop right in, just like that. And it doesn’t take much effort; it’s actually the opposite of efforting.
Can you feel the difference? And we’re talking about the same exact situation. One has potential failure built in and the other doesn’t. One has thinking that we might not fully believe and the other doesn’t. One needs a certain outcome to happen, which we’re usually not in control of anyway, and the other gets cool with whatever happens. “I know I’ll be okay, even if the worst can scenario happens. I might not want it, but I’ll be okay; I’ll make it. I’ll thrive anyway.” And then allow yourself to feel that okay-ness, that safety. Breathe that feeling in, all the way down to your toes, basking in it for several seconds. The cells of your body just love this, and they will really sing. This feeling component so important; it really speeds things up. It anchors that feeling of safety in your body. And over time, your peace will become less and less dependent on outcomes that are not totally in your control. Instead, it’ll be known as something that’s inside of you. Wow, what a better plan. What a better plan. And it just takes some learning and then some gentle, loving practice. And by reading this, you’ve already learned it! Also let me say that if positive thinking works for you, go for it! You are the expert of you. This forced version is what most people are trying to do, though, and it really doesn’t work long-term. So that’s why I’m writing about it here.
So the next time somebody calls you positive, feel free to smack them in the face and tell them, “Stop calling me that! I’m realistic!” Just kidding… But do think about this some if it resonates. This way of thinking works much better because it feels much better to most of us. All that pressure to “think positive” or “think right” or “do it right” is GONE. And you have a source of intelligence built in that you can ask what you should do in any given moment. Call it wisdom or common sense, intuition or instinct, it’s really all the same. And it came with the package. And it usually doesn’t have a whole lot to say. Just the facts. And that beats positive thinking any day of the week. And after living this way for a while, you’ll probably have more of a glow. You’ll be more relaxed. And your friends might even start calling you positive…