Have you ever thought that positive thinking is really a form of brainwashing? That it’s just a fancy world for some sort of mind control that turns us into happy zombies, mindlessly marching towards imaginary sunset? For all the cynics out there, no it’s not. However, it can become a little bit like it if you go overboard and force yourself to wear rose colored glasses every minute of the day without regard for your feelings and emotions. Been there; done that.
So you’ve heard about benefits of being an optimist. After all they live longer, are healthier, have better social lives, make more money and bounce back faster after experiencing hardship. Who would not want all those things? I do.
So you start “letting go” of all the things that have been bothering you, you repeat positive affirmations into oblivion, you “forgive” everyone who has ever wronged you. After all every single annoyance can be seen in a positive light. Right? Isn’t it what positive thinking is about? And so you go on; for days or maybe even for weeks, and then it happens. Suddenly one day you just snap. You just can’t bear being “positive” anymore. You hate your boss, your coworkers are annoying, traffic sucks and economy is in the dumps. How could you be so naive to think that ignoring all that and covering it up with “positive affirmations” could change anything? You slip into a funk and are done with all that positive thinking nonsense. After all you are who you are, and you are a realist. Thank you.
So what’s happened here? It’s easy after a steady diet of “positive thinking” to slip into a place where all your negative emotions come to the surface and envelop you like a wet blanket. Why? It’s because you were suppressing and repressing your negative feelings. It’s not about chocking in a straitjacket of self-imposed “happiness”, you have to feel your emotions and release them in a healthy way in order to restore healthy balance while still embracing positive focus:
- Let yourself feel the emotion. If you feel sad, anxious, angry – feel it. Get curious about your emotion. Where is it in your body, what is it trying to tell you? Just take few deep breaths and feel it. Let it wash over you. It’s ok to feel. Realize that we all experience negative emotions including happy people.
- Karla McLaren has a great tools for connecting and expressing your emotions and her main message is that emotions should be treated as our guides, and that neither repressing or over-expressing is beneficial. Try her guided meditations and visualizations to help you process your emotions. I highly recommend her book ” The Language of Emotions”
- Talk to a trusted friend about it. Allow yourself to vent with the intention of clearing negativity and not getting into a dark place and staying there.
- Journal about it. Writing about what’s bothering you and getting things of your chest is as beneficial as talking to a trusted friend, therapist or a coach. That’s what studies show, and from personal experience I can tell you that it works.
- Express it in a visual way. Just draw what you feel. If you feel sad draw your sadness. If you feel angry, draw your anger. We all doodle. You can even do it in a meeting or by your desk. A few minutes and you are done. It’s like clearing toxins out of your body.
- Listen to guided mediation on your iPod. You can do it when you are at work, on the go, or in your car. Gabrielle Bernstein has a great feeling mediation you can get on iTunes.
- Say a prayer. Close your eyes take a deep breath and say “Please take this (fill in the blanks) from me”, for example ” Please lift this fear from me.”
Have you ever used any of those techniques? Have you found them helpful? I’d love for you to share your experiences.