Today, I am committed to talking about some "inner work" that can benefit you in your own growth and, ultimately, assist you in becoming the partner that you want to be. In short, it's thinking about how we're thinking, and then doing something to enhance how we think. Awareness of your thoughts is vitally important, and then changing the ones that are not serving you or your relationship.
It can seem like everywhere we look, this advice: Focus on the Positive is screaming for us to pay attention. Recently, I have seen this idea in "women's" magazines, business journals, books, Instagram, Pinterest, on bracelets for men and women, and on the television.
When you hear the advice to Focus on the Positive, do you immediately have any of these questions?
Does it mean I must forget negative experiences or events? No, just to experience it, learn from it and use that knowledge to move forward in your life.
Does it mean my partner shouldn't be accountable for mistakes? No. But it does point out that if we dwell on our partner's mistakes, it will make you both unhappy. It's preferable to see the problem, acknowledge it, figure out what to do about it, then move past it.
Does it mean I should emotionally push down difficult or sad events or situations? No. Knowing and understanding what happened is powerful. And so, it learning from it and then letting it go.
What if my partner doesn't focus on the positive? Will I be left always being wrong? This is a tough situation at first. But it's not important to model your own behavior on the behavior that you don't like. You might be a model of more accountability and your partner might make movement too. But even if that doesn't happen, if you continue to think the way that makes you happy, then you are living according to what you think is right.
Is it wrong to be angry? No, it's natural to be angry at times. That said, it's not helpful to keep running the angry thoughts though your mind over and over, making yourself more angry and miserable.
These are all good questions that definitely need some additional clarification. Otherwise, the "positive" just seems like the next self-help fad. It probably is a self-help strategy, but it's not a fad, exactly.
The benefits of focusing on positive thoughts have been proven through brain research to help people feel calm, happier, more productive and more effective at leading their families and at work. That's a lot of benefit from positive thinking.
Before we get deeper into the idea, it's important to dispel some of the myths and misunderstandings about the idea. First, what it means: focusing on positive thoughts is a choice. In any event, we can look at the negative or positive aspects. We can pay attention to either; our choice. Let's say that one of you loses your job in a lay-off.
There are several possibilities of how to think about this, some of them negative and fear-based: "Oh no! No money." "I bet they got rid of me because the boss didn't like me." "I bet they laid me off because I spoke up at the last meeting about my concern about the company's direction." "What if I never find another job."
Any or all of these may be true, but they also may not be true, or not completely true. It's certain that dwelling on any of these thoughts will cause you to feel more and more unhappy, disappointed, angry, unvalued, bad about yourself and a victim of unfair treatment.
On the other hand, there might be some positive things that you could consider thinking about, such as: "I didn't like the job very much so maybe I can find a better one." "We have enough savings to carry us for 6 months, so I have a little time." "What possibilities does this open up for me. I could take some time and consider what job I could get that aligns better with what I like to do and feel good about doing." "I always pick myself up, dust myself off, and move forward. I can to that now."
These thoughts lead to feeling empowered, good about yourself, calmer, more at peace and more confident. Also, happier.
Most people, when a disturbing event happens, swing back and forth between the negative and the positive thoughts, or just get stuck in the negative. The point I want to make is that when you choose the positive, you are telling the truth, while also choosing to focus on the positive truth. It's not that the negative thoughts are completely false, but getting stuck thinking about them too much diminishes our power to take positive action to get past the unfortunate event.
The idea of choosing what you think may be a new idea, but one that has been proven to increase our happiness and our ability to make good decisions, take powerful action and learn from our experiences. It's a highly effective technique and I hope that you give it a try.
If you would like help with finding your balance, we could explore that together in a complimentary “Discover Next Steps” Zoom call with me.
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