I’m a big fan of positive thinking. Why? It feels good. It’s as simple as that. However, I’m only a fan of teaching others about positive thinking if it’s done the right way. Unfortunately, I don’t consider most of what I see these days as teaching it the right way. So let me give it a shot. After hearing this explanation, I haven’t had one person say they used positive thinking less or less effectively, and the majority of people have actually been relieved to hear this view of positive thinking.
There is no doubt in my mind that positive thinking feels good; however, there is one catch. We aren’t always capable of it. Sometimes we seem to be tethered to a type of low mood or mindset. This is inevitable and not to be feared. Momentarily being incapable of positive thinking is a completely normal, natural state.
Now, I hope you are asking a question: Why wouldn’t we be capable of it? Two reasons. One, positive thinking simply isn’t in our thoughts all the time. Occasionally, we are preoccupied with something else. It’s inevitable. Two, sometimes we can think of something positive, but we have a hard time believing it. In other words, we don’t trust the positive thought or we are momentarily trusting a negative one more.
For many people, they hear about the power of positive thinking, and they go out and try it. Sometimes it works great right off the start, and other times it doesn’t work for people. For those who find it works right off the start, they are often let down later and become confused when it doesn’t always work. I have found that this is especially true if they’ve been taught, “It’s really easy. All you have to do is think positively, and all your dreams will come true!”
Often when people believe the power of positive thinking is always supposed to work they believe they are broken or weak if they can’t use it all the time. This belief that they are broken or weak feels terrible, and they often resort to what I call kicking their own ass for being weak or broken. Kicking ones own ass for believing oneself weak or broken feels even worse than just being weak or broken.
Now, in future posts and (hopefully) videos I want to explain more about why the power of positive thinking is variable, but for now, I hope it is enough to say we aren’t always at our best mentally. This is normal. The up and down ebb and flow of thought is completely normal and inevitable.
Sometimes a good positive thought simply won’t occur to you (just as sometimes you lose your keys, forget a name, etc.). When the capability returns, and it will return, you will be back to feeling better.
Other times, you will simply be down and won’t even believe the positive thoughts that appears in your thoughts. Some people have learned to stick with it in this situation and fake it until they make it, but I have found that for me the best I can do is to understand that the down period of my thinking won’t last. It never does. My capability to put positive thoughts in my head and believe them always returns. Always. Knowing that the power of positive thinking will return is freeing and reassuring even in my lowest moments.
Finally, one last observation on positive thinking. You do not need to be capable of your best thinking to be an excellent performer, and this is true even for mental tasks. Performance is deeper than positive thinking alone, and if you understand that you can perform excellently under less than optimal positivity, you will gravitate toward higher levels of consistent excellence. If you doubt that you can perform excellently even when experiencing negativity, keep this in mind: Because we are all susceptible to the ebb and flow of thought, the only alternative to this belief (that you can perform excellently even when experiencing negativity) is to spend time believing, “I can’t do it now. I really can’t.” I doubt if too many high performers spend much time dancing with this thought. High performers understand that they are truly capable of greatness even if it doesn’t seem like it in the moment.
Keep in mind, I’m not suggesting you turn toward chronic negativity, just don’t sweat it when you aren’t momentarily thinking at your best. You can still be great.
In summary, use the power of positive thinking when you can, and don’t kick your own ass when it momentarily doesn’t occur to you or doesn’t work for you. Trust that it will return. It always does. And trust that you can be great even when momentarily down. If you understand this, you will maximize the effectiveness of your possible positive thinking.