Positive thinking – what’s that all about?
You feel rubbish, and someone comes along telling you to think about three good things about your life. Even better, they suggest, write them down in a nice shiny notebook.
Well you’ve got nothing to lose. It might even help. So you try it, and it’s not too difficult. You have food on the table, a roof over your head, clean water, a flush toilet, a few friends, and you can just about pay your bills.
It doesn’t stop you feeling rubbish though – now you feel guilty too. What right have you got to feel like that when there are so many good things in your life? You see news reports about children dying from starvation or disease in the Third World. People closer to home are queuing at foodbanks. Someone on Facebook tells you that you’re better off than 99% of the world’s population.
You must be selfish to still feel rubbish after all that.
But that’s not how it works. You don’t feel bad because of what you don’t have your life. You feel bad because of something that you do have in yourself. And that’s not your fault – whatever it is, you didn’t choose to put it there.
Maybe you’re clinically depressed and there’s something wrong with the chemicals in your brain. Perhaps your most vivid childhood memories are of arguments, anger and distress, so now you’re too scared of emotion to really feel anything. Maybe someone bullied you at school and now you’re stuck with low self-esteem and no confidence.
Whatever it is, the good things in your life won’t make it go away. What they can do is make it feel a bit better, a bit more bearable. In the darkness of despair those few positive thoughts can be like little flickering candle flames offering you light and hope.
So think about those good things in your life. Collect them, keep them safe and use them to help you feel better.
Because that’s what positive thinking is supposed to do. Not make you feel guilty.