Tuesday, June 15, 2010

If Positive Thinking Isn’t the Antidote to Negative Thinking, What Is?

But First — A Quiz!

Identify which of the following statements or questions are examples of negative thoughts, positive thoughts, or some other kind of thinking. Answers below.*

1.    What’s wrong with me?
2.    Get a grip, girl!
3.    Just keep breathing.
4.    My dreams will come true.
5.    I can’t handle this.
6.    He must think I’m an idiot.
7.    Next time, I’ll be assertive.
8.    I’m a lovable person.
9.    I can attract love that will solve my problems.
10.    I’m going to avoid this discussion now.

Some of these examples of self-talk are based on judgments, neither with concrete evidence, whether they are negative or positive. The negative self-talk lowers self-esteem, decreases future performance, and keeps women stuck in a rut. The positive self-talk may boost self-esteem momentarily by increasing hope that the good stuff will happen, but it also keeps people stuck in wishing, hoping, believing, without taking solid steps towards a goal.

“Some other kind of thinking”, which I refer to above, is what I call realistic thinking: it is instructional, rather than judgmental. It is neutral, rather than overly positive or overly negative. It moves you forward.
Here’s an example:

Negative self-talk:  “I’ll never be an A tennis player. I just don’t have what it takes.”
Positive self-talk:    “I can do it. Yes I can. Next year I’ll be the club A tennis champion.”
Realistic self-talk:    “I’m going to get coaching on my backhand to strengthen my game."
It can be tricky. What is your take on realistic thinking?

*Answers: N, R, R, P, N, N, R, P, P, R.


When positive thinking is used as an antidote to negative thinking, when they coexist, the negative thinking wins out most of the time. If there's no negative self-talk that you're trying to counter, then positive thinking won't hurt you. Realistic thinking never hurts! It may not give you a quick high. It won't give you a bummer low. But it will move you to choices, decisions, actions to solve problems.
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