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Is this just "positive thinking"?

If you're like me, when you hear about changing your negative thoughts to positive ones, it sounds like a superficial fix. As if you just need to write out an affirmation and stick it to your cabinet and you'll be all better. I'm all for bringing positivity into your life, but what I'm offering through therapy goes deeper than that.

For millennia, philosophers, psychologists and religions around the world have asserted that we feel the way we think.

I'll give you an example. Let's say you have a meeting with your boss to go over your performance evaluation.

  • If you're thinking, "This is going to be terrible. I know she hates me. I didn't meet enough of my goals this quarter. I'm not going to get that raise I need. My family will be disappointed in me." Well then, you're probably going to feel depressed, worried, nervous, discouraged, incompetent, frustrated, embarrassed, guilty and alone.

  • If you're thinking, "I can't wait to go over my evaluation and hear what she thinks I've done well and areas I can improve. I'm looking forward to growing so I can earn more or find a better paying job. I know my family will support me." Then you're feeling excited, eager, curious, confident, motivated, loved.

  • If that's too Pollyanna-ish for you, here's another example in this scenario. "I haven't met all my goals for this quarter but I have had some successes. My boss isn't my b.f.f., but I can work with her and learn from her until I'm ready to move on. There are many areas I can work on and improve and it will feel good to see my progress. I can be open with my spouse about how I'm doing and ask for support." This would have you feeling realistically hopeful, motivated and connected.

However, this all hinges on which thoughts you believe. You may tell a friend scenario #2, but not believe it for yourself. You'll have to come up with replacement thoughts that are undeniable to you. (This is why we need some many techniques) Once you have "positive" or "realistic" thoughts you fully believe and that prove the negative thoughts to be false, then you will feel better.

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