There is a lot of talk and hype around positive thinking, and while it can be helpful at times, I have to say that I’m not a fan of how it is regularly used.
Sound a bit controversial?
How can a therapist not be into positive thinking?
Let me explain…
The way I often see positive thinking used is as a way to disallow and shame how we feel about things that are happening or have happened in our lives. I regularly have clients who have been through or are going through seriously challenging times, tell me things like,
‘It will make me stronger’
‘It’s all part of my journey’
‘Everything happens for a reason’
Don’t get me wrong I am a great believer in these phrases, but, and this is a huge but… when we have emotionally processed what we have been or are going through!
When we allow ourselves to feel how utterly shit and hard something is, process it, grieve it, cry it out, rage about it we then organically come to a place of peace around it where we can say ‘everything happens for a reason’ and mean it.
Unfortunately, I see many people trying to positive their way out of their trauma and difficult times without the emotional processing, they beat down their feelings with these positive thoughts.
This is exhausting and long term will not lead to happiness, sure we can push away how we feel for a while with our affirmations and positive quotes, but for real lasting, deep healing we need to feel it.
So if we have something difficult going on can we own that, can we be with how hard it is and the emotions and feelings that come with that?
Can we speak to others about how we really feel?
Be careful though, others may try to put a positive spin on what we are going through so think about who you choose to speak to.
Positive thinking and affirmations can absolutely have a place but it cannot replace the deeper emotional work. This is the foundation for our positive thinking to build upon, without them it can all fall down so easily.
As with all my blogs this is written from my personal and professional experience and if I’m honest feeling what’s really there can be hard, the easier route is to cover over it with positivity. It is truly courageous to be fully present with how hard some things are and so be kind to yourself in this, know that it can take practice and can be easier done with a professional.
If this is resonating with you and you want to try to feel what is there but have no idea where to start please reach out to me or another therapist, I offer a free no obligation 30 minute chat for anyone who wants to explore this as an option.
I offer some thoughts on getting started with feeling in my past blog 'Numbing out or feeling, which is more painful?' if you want to check it out (and yes positivity can be another way of numbing out our feelings).
As always send me any thoughts or questions either as a public comment or as a private message to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.