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  1. #1
    Grand Jete's Avatar
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    Is the 'positive' approach not working for you?

    I'm very, very happy for all the people for whom positive psychology and affirmations have proven helpful. I really am. However, that stuff doesn't work well for everyone and I have definitely found that I actually feel worse when I utilize positive thinking techniques.

    I was listening to this radio show: http://www.wpr.org/cardin/index.cfm?...%3A00%3A00%2E0
    on which this guy was talking about alternatives to the positive thinking approach. Basically, his theory is that, for many people, our constant striving for happiness and our attempts to eliminate all negativity can have the opposite effect.

    I think I'm going to read his book one of these days. It's The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking for those of you who are interested. I'm guessing that some of it echoes what Barbara Ehrenreich talked about in her book Brightsided (I definitely recommend that book) but a little less of a critique on the positive psychology industry and a little more of advice for what us positive-averse people can do to improve our lives.

    Am I alone in this or has anyone else found themselves feeling worse after trying the positive affirmations and all that?

  2. #2
    anonymid's Avatar
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    I remember coming across a similar book in a bookstore a couple years ago. I never ended up reading it, but it seems to be in a similar vein to what you're talking about, and might be worth a look:



    http://www.amazon.com/Positive-Power...ative+thinking
    If you ever drop your keys into a river of molten lava, let 'em go, because man, they're gone.
    --Jack Handey

  3. #3
    CityofAngels's Avatar
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    When I was young I tried the Fake It Until You Can Make It method on my own without even knowing it had a name and it only made things worse. Exposure therapy, anything like that just makes things worse for me. Blocking out my negative thoughts makes me even more depersonalized and thats my main problem. So from experience I've learned to run from anything like this.

  4. #4
    Antidote's Avatar Rude & Shouty
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    Oh wow, my username is so apt.
    Positive thinking feels so forced and fake to me. I never took to it, it's just empty. I looked up defensive pessimism and did a short quiz which you might like: http://www.wellesley.edu/Psychology/...Quiz/quiz.html
    I scored as a defensive pessimist, so that's what I do naturally. It's basically - set standards low and and prepare yourself for the worst. But that way when things go well, you're pleasantly surprised. One article I read also said: "Research shows that if you pressure defensive pessimists into being optimistic, or try to manipulate their mood, their performance deteriorates,". That's probably why I never took to it, it's just a bad idea and doesn't work for some people.

  5. #5
    Trendsetter's Avatar
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    I spent most of my life in pessimissm, and that did nothing but make things worse

  6. #6
    Matty's Avatar
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    You have to believe in what you are thinking. So if you are a negative person trying to be positive, you need to do some internal work first, which I recommend.

    I think a lot of people need to spend a lot of time rebuilding themselves, myself included. We all want things to change without putting in the work required. I don't mean that we will be cured, just that we will have a much better base to work from and most likely be a lot happier.

  7. #7
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    I'm naturally more of a pessimist.

    Sometimes positive affirmations work for me, if they have some wisdom & truth to them, but for the most part they're ineffective.

    Rather than force positivity on myself, I try to reason things out, and use something called "negative visualization." When facing an unpleasant task, I go through all the possible negative outcomes and their solutions so that I am prepared should they happen. That way I can lessen their impact because they were expected.

    Negative visualization can also help you appreciate what you have - f/e, if you take a moment to imagine what it would be like not to own a car, and being forced to take public transportation everyday (or even spend a day doing it for real), you'll appreciate having one more, even when it has its numerous and expensive mechanical problems!

    Such thinking can help you find more satisfaction in life, even when things don't seem like they're going your way.

  8. #8
    Grand Jete's Avatar
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    I should add that I'm not necessarily advocating pessimism. Although, if that works for you, go for it. I think everyone is different and different methods work for different people. There is no one-size-fits-all approach -- of that much, I'm convinced.

    I wasn't saying that always being negative is the ideal. Just that affirmations and positivity doesn't always work. In fact, that's based on research. I'll have to hunt up the link, but I read somewhere that positive psychology does in fact have the opposite effect on people who are diagnosed with depression. What I'm talking about (and what the author I mentioned in the OP is talking about) is more of a mindfulness approach. Noticing and acknowledging the bad feelings instead of automatically replacing them.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that everyone is different and each person will need to manage the symptoms of anxiety and depression in a different way. That's why there are so many different therapeutic approaches. And that's why I'm trying to find an alternative solution -- because the overwhelmingly prevalent positive psychology just isn't doing it for me.

  9. #9
    JustGaara's Avatar Hurt Good.
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    Thank you for this! One thing I really hate about therapy or confiding in others is that they always try to push positivity on you. For me, it just feels unnatural and does not align with reality or my experience of life. I think I would benefit more from trying to be less negative and more realistic than from trying to be positive. The book sounds really interesting, I'm definitely going to check it out.
    I'm in love with the world through the eyes of a girl who's still around the morning after...

  10. #10
    takethebiscuit's Avatar
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    Everyone is different.

    There's a difference between "positive psychology": the study of how happy people got and stayed happy and the sometimes rather aggressive advocates of extreme positive thinking.

    The trouble with expecting the worst is that expectation has power. That's scientifically proven. In one experiment those who expected to be lucky were much more likely to notice a ten pound note lying on the ground. Those who expected to be unlucky were more likely to not notice the note on the ground. Expectations and beliefs have the power to influence how we see reality. And we are more likely to defend our belief that change to a new way of thinking, even if the belief we are defending actually hurts us.

    As a therapist and coach is not my job to encourage you to think positively. It is certainly my job to believe in you until you can believe in yourself again. It's my job to see things from your perspective and see if I can guide you towards the changes you want to make. Not guide you to the changes I think would be right for you or that I want you to make. The changes you want to make.

    That's what really like about the Clean Language approach: it's an exploration of what's going on for you in your world. It's not asking you to think anything you don't want to think. It's there to help you make the changes you want to make. Just as the ACT/Mindfulness stuff, hypnosis and NLP related stuff is.

    As therapists we are mainly not interested in making you think anything. I've used the Gandalf/Lord of the Rings metaphor before but I feel it's true. We are the ones who stand in between you and your problems and tell your problems that they shall not pass.

    If you've never read Lord of the Rings I appreciate that that metaphor makes no sense.

  11. #11
    i just want luv's Avatar
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    I'm more accepting things for the way they are and move from there. It has helped me I feel become a free'er person.
    More of nuetral'ality on both sides of the spectrum. Which brings the next of my meditation method's seeing from all angles.
    Tho when I see the positive going about on its errings I just say I'm rooting for you. Even though lifes not fair I do unto other's how Id' want to be treated.

    If nothing else I can head to the next mark after I'm done on Earth, and say I got to be myself fully

    "I was a good person, after all."
    And that'll be fuel for the ages'.
    Meditation can really help you love nothing, in turn help you love something / everything that much' mor'e.

  12. #12
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    In the past I've had a ton of trouble with black and white extremes. If I was feeling depressed, and someone told me to be "more positive" I would hit the roof and that would make me even more determined to be negative. Then I swung the other way and everything was peachy keen and rosy, so when life took a turn for the worst, I was angry and resentful. I believe even thinking about negative and positive therefore is not helpful. I'm learning to live in the gray area of a little negative and a little positive.

    Negativity is surely needed when coming up with new ideas so the bad consequences can be seen. A purely positive person runs the risk of ignoring the worst that could happen and not be ready for it. But the purely negative person will not take risks and therefore change doesn't take place.

    But to balance the two, even in relationships, hope, dreams has been helpful to me. I know that if I smile at others, they tend to smile back at me. That makes both of us feel good. But I keep in my mind that their smile might be fake. I'm not saying be paranoid with everyone you meet. But to balance it somehow. With hope. I can hope to have all my dreams of being a writer and to travel come true. It might. I hang on to that because it lifts me up. But I also have to remember that I must go to work every week and pay my bills and do the responsible things also because that dream just might not happen.

    Does that make sense?
    The Hokey Pokey IS what it's all about

  13. #13
    Frogger's Avatar
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    Nope

  14. #14
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    I've spent so much time being negative. I might as well try being positive.

  15. #15
    jsgt's Avatar
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    I use to be a very negative person, because all I ever saw in life and in my past...was negativity. The thing is, I was focusing on the negative so much...that it prevented me from seeing the positives. I really got tired of feeling this way towards everything and everybody, so I made a change in the way I see life. I know there's 2 sides of the coin, but I try to look at the brighter side. It's helped me to be more accepting and more understanding. Those two things can create a lot of stress if not managed...so learning to go with the flow as opposed to fighting everything, has done well for me and I feel more mature for adapting to this new mindset. It's still new to me, because I'm still working on it.
    Be yourself, everyone else is taken. -Oscar Wilde

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