Positive thinking

If you have been following the series – Why Positive Thinking is S.H.I.T, then you will know we covered S last week – which stands for (false) sense of Security. If you haven’t read that yet – you can catch it here.  So this week we are going to talk about the H.

Have you ever told someone what they want to hear?  Be honest now.  You know – your best friend asks if her bum looks big in this dress she is trying on, and it SOOO does, but you say “Babe, you look fabulous”.  Or your Mum calls you to ask why you didn’t return her call last night and rather than tell her – it was because you rushed one of the kids to A & E because you thought they had meningitis, which turned out to be a virus / eating too much sugar – you don’t want to worry her about nothing so you say your phone was on silent?

Well this is a bit like that.  But worse.  Because the person you are lying to is …..YOU

You see positive thinking can lead to all sorts of problems with handling your own state and your own emotions.  If you think that Positive Thinking means being happy all the time for example, you are on a ‘hiding to nowhere’ as my Gran used to say.  Which means that – it’s never going to work and what is worse – you are going to actually make things worse for yourself.

If you think ‘Positive Thinking’ means being happy all the time, then you are likely going to HIDE your negative emotions.  Many of us hide our emotions anyway, for various reasons – perhaps we were told as a kid to ‘toughen up’, or ‘get on with it’.  Have you ever been told ‘stop crying or I will give you something to cry about?’ Brilliant logic!  Or perhaps someone made fun of you at school for being sad, or worried or upset?   For some people it is just cultural.  In the past century and probably longer, stoicism was seen as a great thing.

For whatever reason you might hide your emotions – and in this case we are talking about hiding them because it doesn’t seem to fit with ‘Positive Thinking’ – I can tell you – its shit.  Hiding your emotions is bad for you in many ways.

Physically it is really bad for you.  Emotions create chemicals.  Those chemicals are released through tears.   According to Joseph Stromberg, there are 3 types of tears – basal (those created by the body to lubricate the eye), reflex tears (reactions to onions for example), and psychic tears (caused by emotions).  Emotional tears have protein-based hormones including the neurotransmitter leucine enkephalin, which is a natural painkiller that is released when we are stressed.

Rose Lynn Fisher, a photographer, has taken photographs of over 100 tears and the results are astounding.  Have a look at her work here.  

If your emotions are not expressed, it can make you ill.  Lets explore this a bit further.  When someone has a trauma – sudden illness, death of a loved one, witnessing something traumatic – often the brain will turn off emotions.  This is a protection mechanism to allow space and time to process what has happened before starting to feel the emotions that go with it.  That is normal.  However when people deliberately suppress their emotions, it is damaging as not only is the emotion still there, it grows.  And then it comes out in an inappropriate way.  Something minor happens and there is an explosion of emotion.  This is also the body’s way of protecting itself but releasing the emotion that was building.

The link between suppression of emotion and illness is strong.  Suppressed emotions cause the body stress.  A body that is stressed can develop heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and all sorts of auto-immune diseases, anxiety and depression.

‘Hiding’ emotions can also be very damaging to relationships.  Emotions are fast.  It takes about 100 milliseconds for your brain to react emotionally and about 600 milliseconds for our thinking brain, to register this reaction. By the time you’ve decided not to get mad or sad, your face has been expressing it for 500 milliseconds. Too late! The emotional signal has been sent. And whoever you are with will know ‘something is wrong’.  If that person is your partner they will feel shut out, if it is your child they will feel unworthy!  And if that person is YOU, well that’s just confusing.

You ‘should’ be happy, but you feel sad, so you must be bad!

What you need to know here and now is that hiding your emotions needs to stop.  Emotions are natural.  They have to be expressed for you to be healthy – body and mind.  You don’t need to be ashamed of your emotions and if other people don’t like it, well that is frankly THEIR issue and not yours.  They clearly have ‘hiding emotion’ issues of their own.  Let them get on with it, and just be true to yourself.

Because the thing is….. positive thinking is not about denying bad things happen, it is not about hiding your real emotions. It is about dealing with the reality of life and then – when the time is right for you – choosing to get into action and making positive choices.

So when I say positive thinking is S.H.I.T. – there is a reason for the full stops.   It is an acronym (meaning each letter stands for something) today we have covered the H, Hiding (your emotions).  Next week we will be talking about “I”.  No not me, “I”.  If you want to know more about how to create real positive change in your life visit our FB page #FindYourWhy and learn more about how you can Live, Love and Laugh more everyday!

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