Over the weekend I met with a friend of mine to have drinks. It’s one of those experiences where you start to realize how long it’s really been since you’ve been out of your house. It was nice, enjoyable. We talked mostly about helping her through a weight loss program she was on.
For her first 30 days she had been doing well, and we started seeing progress in her weight loss. For her second 30 days I sat with her and explained something very important. I told her, “You would expect that your second 30 days would be much easier than your first wouldn’t you? But that’s not the case. Truth is it’s going to be harder. Why? Because you’ve tasted progress and your brain will try to convince you that you’ve got this, and so will begin to slowly slip back into old bad habits.”
Exactly what I said would happen did. That was expected, because I know the patterns of trying to change. I let her know that it’s okay if she messed up, just stay on track checking in with me every day and I can help you work through it. Problem was she didn’t, and I realized though I stressed the importance of checking in with me every day, and she agreed to, still she didn’t.
That’s when I invited her out to drinks to talk, just so I could really figure out what was going on with her.
As we began talking I noticed something, I noticed why it had been so difficult for her to stick with the program put together. More so, why she struggled to check in with me, even when I stressed the importance of it. Among other things, one of the main reasons was that she is someone who is very positive, and incredibly enthusiastic.
Now you may ask what’s wrong with that, isn’t that a good thing? My answer to that is Yes and No.
Yes, in the sense that It’s good to see your less than desirable situation and circumstances as merely a temporary experience, and live in the hope that things will eventually get better. However, it’s bad (like really bad) if you become so positive that you fail to realize the seriousness of your situation, which causes you to take a casual approach to change, and become complacent about how things are.
Here’s the Problem with Positive Thinking
I use to buy into the whole idea of positive thinking as well. The idea that you should always look on the positive outlook of things, and always have an upbeat attitude about life.
Problem is that doesn’t work in helping you make real change and get real results.
I remember being really into all the books of those that preached positive thinking. Norman Vincent Peale’s Power of Positive Thinking, Les Brown, Napoleon Hill, and just for the record nothing is wrong with being into these authors and speakers. They were helpful during specific points of my growth. The problem is how positive thinking is being promoted today. The idea that all you need to change your life is to think positive, and your life will change positively.
For about 5-7 years I bought into this idea that being positive was all I really needed to turn my life around. Thing is I’d been positive for almost 10 years and nothing happened. No change in my life circumstance or any tangible results I could point to. Sure, I was a better person, I was feeling better about myself, but I wasn’t looking to feel better, I was looking for life to be better.
Now take my friend for example. Through the entire process of going through the program she was enormously positive. This constant state of positivity caused her to passively ignore the reality and seriousness of her situation, which caused her to continuously slip up, and even worse convince herself that it wasn’t as a big a deal if she did.
How Positive Thinking Is Causing You to Fail:
- Causes you to be delusional to the reality of your situation. In other words you ignore the seriousness of the situation, which causes you to not act with a sense of urgency to change things. Therefore, the longer you take to change the harder change becomes
- Prevents you from facing things as they are versus how you fantasize them to be. One of the disasters to positive thinking is it makes you suppress what’s holding you back from changing your life. What I mean by that is it’s easier to think positive and think things will eventually change for the better without any real effort on your part, rather than actually facing the pain of what is preventing change. It’s easier to deny the pain exists because facing that pain makes us feel uncomfortable and vulnerable, and 99% of people don’t know how to handle that
- Makes you feel good, but doesn’t create real and lasting change. The great thing about positive thinking is that it makes you feel good, the worst thing about positive thinking is that it makes you feel good. The problem lies in the fact that it will allow you to feel good about yourself, and creates the delusional that you are changing. However, real and lasting change means that you have to face your demons, and facing your demons means you no longer get to feel good. Positive thinking creates a blanket of comfort that fools us into believing that we can change without going through pain
Stop Thinking So Positive if You Want to Create Change
I’ve told you why positive thinking doesn’t work in helping you make real and lasting change, let’s actually talk about what does.
The first step to change is to stop thinking so positive, as a matter of fact do the positive…think negative.
People see negative emotions as a bad thing. However, if you know how to channel negative emotions to create a positive outcome then you can take any bad circumstance and create a meaningful life out of it.
So how do you do that? It’s something I call the Pain Pressure Release TechniqueTM. I spoke about it in detail in a post I did earlier this year. You can click to check it out.
To give you a brief run through of how it works:
- Pain– thinking about the thing that’s causing you pain in your life or situation, this could be the very thing you are afraid to face
- Pressure– internalize it, allow the intensity of the pain you feel to increase. The more pain or the severity of the pain you feel, the more effective it will be
- Release– now take the intensity of the pain you feel and use it as a driving force to push you to take action consistently to create the change you want to see in your life
The formula is simple: if Pain of Inaction (being positive and things staying the same) is greater than Pain of Action (take action to change things) then you’re more likely to take action and do something about it. You’re going to try to rid yourself of the thing that causes more pain, which in this case it’s life remaining the same. Think of it as dealing with the lesser of the two evils. In this cause the lesser evil is just to take action.
This is why positive thinking can be a bad thing, it dampens or lessens the pain you feel. When this happens it takes away the urgency to change, and it takes away that intense push that forces you to take action to change. Furthermore, it makes the act of changing seem more painful than remaining the same (I hope I’m not losing you here).
If you understand most of what I just explained in this article then you’ll begin to get a clear picture why being obsessed with positive thinking actually hurts you than helps you. It causes you to be delusional, and prevents you from facing the reality of what you really need to do to change. Feeling positive about changing is not the same as taking action to change.
Nothing is wrong with being positive, but you need to know when to apply it. Being positive blindly will cause you to fail. Doing so when you feel discouraged and when nothing is working out how you want after taking action is good. It maintains hope, and keeps you pushing just long enough to see the light at the end of your dark tunnel.
Take life’s lemons to make lemonade, rather than sitting down thinking that if you’re optimistic enough the lemons will turn into oranges.
To your success my friend!
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