“Think positively!” many life coaches and spiritual teachers say today. In fact, it’s a good recommendation, but in case you don’t know how to follow it, it’s completely useless. If we perceive the principle of positive thinking too literally, most likely we face the following risks:
- Illusory perception: “I always feel good. No, not only good. Gosh, I feel great! Everything’s perfect!” Sounds nice, but can we tell it about any situation? For example, let’s imagine that there’s a person driving a car with broken brakes and it’s quickly approaching a precipice. Can one keep on telling that everything’s great in this situation? If this person has this kind of opinion about similar circumstances, they risk their own health and even life. For this reason, positive thinking also needs to be constructive and realistic. If you find yourself in a problematic or critical situation, you need to accept this fact and think how to solve the problem.
- Inaction: “Why should I do anything? Everything’s fine!” It’s another trap that catches those who stick to positive thinking principles. They’re sure that thinking positively is enough, and the rest will take care of itself. Because of it, these people remain stuck in their “happy” thoughts and do nothing in order to put their dreams into practice. Of course, positive thinking can serve as a great motivator, but it’s important to remember about the need to make efforts to realize your dreams. Dreaming while failing to act is a waste of time.
- Denial of feelings and events: “I always feel only positive emotions! I can never feel anything negative!” Let’s face the truth – it’s very unlikely. All of us feel sad from time to time, get angry and worried. Why should one deny these feelings? According to a world-known life coach Tony Robbins, if you close your eyes at the weeds in your garden, they won’t stop growing. You need to accept the fact that there are weeds and pull them out. Otherwise, sooner or later they’ll choke the plants you’re growing. Similarly, if you deny the presence of negative emotions, it won’t do you any good. For example, suppression of anger leads to its accumulation, which, in its turn, can be very harmful. A negative emotion won’t disappear by itself. You need to work with it, and to do it, you need to realize that it exists, instead of closing your eyes on it.
- Victim blaming: “Those who have problems just can’t think positively!” Perhaps, it’s the most unpleasant aspect of positive thinking, because it doesn’t concern the person who thinks it’s a good idea, but those people around this person. For example, if someone develops a serious disease or gets into an utterly unpleasant situation, a fanatic positive thinker will, most likely, blame this person for their inability to think positively. However, wouldn’t it be better to help this person, instead of demonstrating one’s arrogance?
Let’s recall several lines from Mikhail Bulgakov’s genius masterpiece “Master and Margarita”, “But would you kindly ponder this question: What would your good do if evil didn’t exist, and what would the earth look like if all the shadows disappeared? After all, shadows are cast by things and people. … Do you want to strip the earth of all trees and living things just because of your fantasy of enjoying naked light?”
If there was no evil, we wouldn’t understand the good things we have. Light and dark, male and female, hot and cold – everything in our world has two sides. And while there’re a lot of good in it, evil also is there. And if we deny its existence, it won’t disappear. It will only increase.
On the other hand, if we know and accept the fact that dozens of trees are being cut down all over the world, thus increasing the ozone hole in our atmosphere, we can work on stopping this disgraceful practice. If we know that some part of our world is at war, we may think about the contribution we can make into ceasing the conflicts on our planet. If we feel a negative emotion inside ourselves and accept that it exists, we can take necessary steps and turn it into a positive one. In any of these cases, denying a problem will only aggravate the situation and will never solve it.
“What does it mean?” you may ask. “Are you saying that positive thinking is complete nonsense?” Not at all. Keeping a positive mood is a good thing, because good mood gives energy to your body, clarity to your mind, and completeness to your heart. And when you’re in a bad mood, even the simplest thing can seem to be an unsolvable task. When you feel bad about yourself, you can’t be efficient and bring joy to yourself and others. In order to avoid the risks of superficial understanding of positive thinking, we suggest you to start thinking positively and constructively. Let’s see what it means:
- Thinking positively and constructively means being able to accept the fact that problems exist and, at the same time, knowing how to find the best solution to them as soon as possible, instead of fixating on them.
- It means knowing how to focus on the desirable outcome, even when it seems that everything goes against it.
- It means learning to work with one’s emotions and replacing negative emotions with positive and constructive ones.
- It means being able not only to dream, but also to act decisively.
- It means setting goals and working to attain them.
- It means being compassionate and helping others.
It’s worth noting that even the superficial understanding of positive thinking has a good side – it gives us hope. If we learn to see something good in every negative situation, we won’t feel despair. And if we add constructive thinking to it, we’ll know how to find a way out of any circumstances.
After you read this article, I suggest you to start using the term “constructive thinking” instead of “positive thinking”. If you do it, you will notice very soon that it has a large influence on your entire life.
Let’s all learn how to think positively and constructively, in order to ensure the best future possible for ourselves and the entire world!