The True Power of Positivity
“A world of positivity starts by seeing the world with positive vision” unknown
We’ve all heard the term innocent until proven guilty. Lately, I’ve been trying something new. I’ve been attempting the theory of “positive until proven negative”. When I interact with other people I assume that they have positive intentions until they prove to me otherwise. The cool thing with that is that MOST people do. You truly can rewire your brain towards positive thinking.
As a child and in my early twenties I was definitely an optimist. Then, for many years, life got in the way. One step at a time I became increasingly jaded. It got to the point where my brain was trapped in a cycle of recurring negative thought patterns. I was forced to change this way of thinking out of necessity. For many reasons, I purchased the book The Brain That Changes Itself By Norman Doidge, started following positive influencers on social media and started the tough work of trying to rewire my brain.
One of many powerful quotes from Norman Doidge’s book is, “We see with our brains, not with our eyes,” I’m a firm believer in this. So much of how we see the world has to do with our own perceptions of it.
Approaching people with a positive mindset gets more difficult when we have a history with that person who might not be as positive. I’m in the middle of a divorce at the moment. We fought very hard for our marriage for many, many years. We both really wanted to keep the family together for the sake of the kids. We have been on and off for a very long time and everyone who knows us, knows that we gave everything we could to trying to make our marriage work.
Several months ago, my husband looked at me after an argument and said to me, “why do we keep fighting for this when we know it just isn’t right? We are such different people and we aren’t going to change that.”
When he said those words it was like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. A heavy weight that I had been carrying for far too long. We mutually agreed that we wouldn’t fight to remain married any longer but we would fight for a common cause…our two incredible children.
This was easier said than done. Due to our history together, we both approached each other with negative mindsets. Although we both truly do want what is best for our children, our hurt and negativity towards each other was preventing us from doing just that. The holidays were really tough on our whole family because of this. So, in the New Year, I decided to approach him with a new mindset. I reminded myself of what an amazing dad he is and gave him a call with the goal of wanting to figure some things out for the sake of our children.
The conversation went so well and I’m so happy to say that, where I had no hope just last week, I have a much better hope of us being able to be awesome co-parents. There will be moments of difficulty but I truly believe that, even in the process of divorcing, this can be a positive year for both of us and most importantly for our children.
The positive until proven negative theory can sometimes be disappointing when you realize that someone you care about is hurting and in a negative headspace. I was shocked last week when I met up with an old friend for a coffee only to have multiple negative assumptions and judgements thrown at me while she verbally kept saying, “no judgement”. I was especially surprised because I previously thought that this friend knew me really well and these judgements were shocking coming from her.
This friend had always been a very positive person but is going through a really difficult time right now. As I held back tears and defended myself in the best way I could I was reminded of a skill that I learned in therapy called Radical Acceptance.
Marsha Linehan says it like this, “Radical acceptance means complete and total openness to the facts of reality, as they are, without throwing a tantrum.”
We left our conversation on great terms; this may not have happened if I had been in my previous mindset of believing and internalizing the judgements of others. Since I was able to clearly explain my reality and my core values, I left the conversation with my head held high and an important friendship still in place.
I have been working hard to radically accept the realities of my life because when it comes down to it denying reality doesn’t change anything so it’s easier to accept it and move on.
Having a positive mindset doesn’t mean that pain will be avoided. It just means that during the hard times you believe that better things are coming. For those of you who are stuck in a negative thought cycle I challenge you to try and write down three things each day that you are grateful for. Before long your thoughts patterns will change from negative to positive. This makes life much more enjoyable.
If everyone can love more and judge less the world will be a happier place.