You are about to read the confessions and thoughts of a not-always positive person. In the interests of total honesty, I need to reveal that being positive doesn’t come naturally to me. Frankly, it wasn’t what I was always taught, and sometimes being positive even wars with my worrying nature. Am I a coaching heretic?
Indeed, I have practiced being positive as much as possible, in spite of what a couple of my adult kids might think, mostly when I disagree with them. There are times when I do have an underlying, nagging feeling that it is baloney to work so hard to turn our innate feelings around and shape them into something other than what we initially feel. It’s not that I don’t want to be positive but I also want to be authentic and honest with myself and others. To me that means accepting a lot of things as “just what is in this life”, then experiencing the pain, and figuring out ways to go on from there. I don’t know if it is possible to put a positive spin on certain things, but I think it does depend on your conditioning and the labels you choose to place on those things.
When I have found myself being negative in the past, I have sometimes berated myself for not automatically putting into practice what I preach (the positive thinking). I have tried my best, and you may too, but I believe we may be placing a big burden on ourselves, and perhaps are setting ourselves up for failure by buying into this all the time.
Not everyone happens to agree that positive thinking is such a great thing, or at least what we now label in this 21st Century culture, as positive thinking. It has become almost sacrilegious, though, to suggest that maybe training ourselves to be so positive isn’t always the best thing to do.
An interesting read is an article by Srikumar Rao, Ph.D.-Specializing in Creativity and Personal Mastery.
He says we get into trouble more because we label things as good and bad because of our life conditioning, and if we didn’t label them in the first place, we wouldn’t have to try so hard to think positively or to make lemonade from lemons.
Dr. Rao says, “…And if you never label something as bad, then you don’t need positive thinking and all of the stress associated with getting something bad and experiencing it as such till you figure out how to make lemonade out of it, simply goes away.
That is the huge pebble in the positive thinking shoe. ‘This is bad. Really bad. It’s a lemon. But somehow I will make some lemonade out of it and then perhaps it won’t be so bad.’ First you think its bad and then you think you will somehow make it less bad and there is a strong undercurrent that you are playing games and kidding yourself. Some people succeed. Many don’t. And those who don’t are devastated that the model they were trying so hard to build caved in on them. (The underlining is mine!) That’s why positive thinking can sometimes be harmful…”
He goes on to state, “...Can you actually go through life without labeling what happens to you as good or bad? Sure you can. You have to train yourself to do this. You have been conditioned to think of things as bad or good. You can de-condition yourself. It is neither easy nor fast but it is possible…”
I find it mighty hard (and you probably do too) to find a way to put a positive spin on an occurrence such as losing a loved one, or the true stories of some people I meet who have one terrible thing happen after another. Yet, our thinking about loss and other tragedies is based on our social conditioning., and how we label.
Here’s another interesting viewpoint to consider.
Steve Pavlina, a great personal development blogger, and an untraditional one, says,
“…Instead of viewing certain events as tragic, why not choose a context in which they become transformational? Change is a natural part of human existence. Perhaps instead of resisting change, we can learn to embrace it… in all its various forms. Instead of labeling events as good or bad, we can withhold judgment and simply accept them for what they are: the ever-unfolding dance of consciousness…”
Pavlina also says, “…Our social conditioning frames our lives within a context whereby certain events are labeled as tragic. But there’s nothing inherently tragic about those events. They are what they are. We have plenty of other viable interpretations available. We need not remain loyal to a context that creates unnecessary pain and robs us of joy. The dead do not require that we suffer upon their departure. All the pain we create is our own — by allowing ourselves to adopt a disempowering, fear-based context.
So what do you think?
Questions for Self-Reflection:
Does it come naturally to you to place a positive spin on most occurrences?
How has positive thinking helped you?
Has it impeded you in some way?
Is there something that has happened in your own life that you have labeled as good, or bad, that might be looked at in a different way?
Do you think that seeing those things in a new way could help you find more peace or joy in your own life journey?
Iris Arenson-Fuller is a life coach, mom, grandma, former adoption agency founder and director, poet/writer. She helps people with grief, loss, tough life changes and adoption loss issues too. Watch for the new section coming soon on Writing to Help Healing from Grief and Loss.
Iris does private coaching by phone, and runs low-cost groups, via phone and Internet.
She can be found on Facebook (facebook.com/visionpoweredcoaching), Twitter and at her web site. If you would like access to free reports on Loss and Grief, or on Adoption Loss, click here: http://eepurl.com/M7BJH
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