I’m quite a sucker for “how to” posts about positive thinking. But sometimes the underlying tone seems more aggressive than positive. I don’t have a problem with being a winner in a genuinely competitive situation, but I don’t see my life as a war, either with myself or with the rest of the world!
I’m quite a sucker for “how to” posts about positive thinking. Sometimes something just strikes a chord, lightening the load I can make for myself when some old negative soundtrack kicks in. But very often their tone sounds far from positive, more aggressive, and combative. The underlying concept seems to be of life as a battle. Indeed, it is not always so underlying, with the phrase “you are a winner” sometimes liberally sprinkled through posts.
If we are all the winners, who are the losers? Are we fighting with life, or with ourselves? Are we really out to gain victory over our own minds, defeating what we find there in an aggressive and irrevocable way? “You are a tough opponent”, I read, once more, “you are a winner”. I don’t have a problem with being a winner in a genuinely competitive situation, but I don’t see my life as a war, either with myself or with the rest of the world.
I think that however reasonable the strategies may be — anyone who subtly primes themselves to fight against themselves and the world in this way, is setting themselves up for more conflict. There is also the danger, or rather the stupidity, of treating spiritual practices in an instrumental fashion, as no more or less than good techniques for attaining the ultimate goal of being a happy, successful winner.
It seems to me that the best ways to weed out negative thoughts are to work with awareness of them, working around them, accepting their existence, and ignoring them — fighting them head on tends to give them power. All the classic tips for building up positive thoughts are generally effective, if the motivation is there.
Sometimes the negative thoughts need to be understood before disappearing of their own accord, they maybe are part of a quite logical defensive pattern. Sometimes they do just need to be swept away by a breath of fresh air, and concentration on the positive. But surely the attitude of winning battles with yourself has to be counterproductive in the long run?
All clinical material on this site is peer reviewed by one or more clinical psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals. This specific article was originally published by Dr Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor on .on and was last reviewed or updated by