Why Positive Thinking Doesn’t Work for You and How to Fix it

By Sarah Jeanne Browne

“See the positive side, the potential, and make an effort.” – Dalai Lama

You’ve heard about the power of positivity. What happens when it doesn’t work? You can! You can! You tell yourself this enough; magic will occur. But not always.

This isn’t to give into the self-defeatist in you. It’s to help you lead a transparent, honest life where you take off the mask. Rays of light shine through the cracks of any broken heart. Reality – is not always positive. However, I will positively point out a couple of things. YOU can handle this. Your gifts are unique to the world. They can’t be replaced. You are unique. You are special.

Why Positive Thinking Doesn’t Work for You and How to Fix it

1. Sit with your feelings

You may be feeling down or upset. Rather than try to put a mask over these feelings, accept them. Acceptance is where change begins. You have to sit with your feelings and find out what they are trying to say. Meditate on the emotion and find the emotion’s source. Is it annoyance at that girl at work or is there something deeper going on? A feeling of inadequacy being covered up?

Your emotions matter. They tell a story. You must dig deep to find the source of them. It’s not about aligning your chakras, repeating mantras or thinking more positively. It’s about acknowledging that you are human, opening up your vulnerabilities and plunging forward with them.

Sitting with your feelings means to recognize that they exist. YOU exist. That anger, hurt, pain, trauma, disappointment need to be let out. Accept them. If you’re tired, be tired. You wouldn’t tell someone to start running if they needed to relax. So, rest. Taking time for yourself is okay.

For example, a fiancé broke off an engagement with me when I was 21. This seemed traumatic, but I went straight into a graduate school, never feeling it. I ran from it until I was about 26. And it all came crashing down when that person viewed my LinkedIn. Suddenly, I was faced with the loss and that they were experiencing regret or remorse.

But you know what? I won. I realized by facing my feelings I was never truly treated right and that I deserved better. I became ready to date again, transparent as ever after living a feminist 20s.

2. Remove the mask

Become transparent and tell your story. That is the start of strength. Express what is going on to someone or through creativity. Creativity is the way out. Be creative in your choices. You will be celebrated for your authenticity. You’ve been playing a part. Instead, plan to live with purpose.

Purpose gives us power. If there is an answer to your struggle, it is your destiny to find it. That problem is your purpose. Being productive or positive isn’t always effective. Slowing down and surrendering shows us how to be human. Let others in on your journey. Healing happens when loneliness does not take our life story for itself.

It is a breath of fresh air to live authentically.

Often, we hear, “Me too.”

I ran a summer camp program where teens had to cross the line (a rope in the middle of the grass) if they could relate to something. All questions were challenge by choice. And you could interpret it anyway you wanted. So we would start by asking simple things like, “Do you wear glasses or contacts?” Then it got deeper.

“Have you ever had a sexual experience that you regret.” Both males and females crossed the line at this.

“Have you ever felt depressed?”

This time everyone crossed the line.

It was powerful, ending in hugs and tears.

That’s the difference being open and honest can make. It can create connections that were not otherwise there. It can be cathartic and freeing, captivating and can create new feelings.

3. Remember it doesn’t matter

You may be giving problem more power over you than they are worth. So you lost that job, didn’t get that raise, went bankrupt, experienced a divorce, struggled with an addiction or lost a loved one. That problem does not define you.

You don’t have to control your thoughts. You just have to stop letting them control you

I once was having trouble with wanting to leave a prestigious graduate program, and I looked outside. It was raining. I put down the phone with my mom as we were discussing it and walked outside. I let the rain hit me. All that mattered was being alive. And that is when I realized the rest of it doesn’t matter.

Being happy mattered more. I left my graduate program to pursue other dreams. And I was happier for it. I had to accept what I was feeling, remembering to take off the mask and discover what was actually important to break free.

Final Thoughts

Simply being positive would have led me astray, had me hold onto things that weren’t working. It would have caused me to mask my struggles, bottle my feelings and keep them to myself and think that everything that happened matter or should be equally prioritized.

Sure, being positive can bring you many benefits, but sometimes, life is simply too unfair, and it can take strength to smile. When you learn to sit with your feelings, remove the mask and remember it doesn’t matter, you’ll heal.

photo source

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