We’ve all heard of the phrase “Be realistic!”
It is not a foreign concept in today’s age to carry a healthy level of scepticism. We live in a society where evidence and concrete findings are favoured. Gone are the days where someone can simply sell us these amazing claims and we will blindly nod along. A lot of us have questions…we want proof…before we believe we are susceptible to doubt.
In this sense, many of us have heard about positive thinking before. We can all agree that adopting a positive frame of mind, adopting a positive attitude, and expecting good results in all we do sounds pleasant in theory.
But then in our personal lives and when applied to ourselves, the spark may fade after a while. We encounter obstacles, we may find it difficult, and we lose motivation. Certainly along our journeys we become increasingly sceptical.
The inner sceptic is revealed and asks:
“Does this really work?”
“Can I really do this?”“
Is this actually realistic?”
It is not shameful or embarrassing to admit that each of us has this inner sceptic. It is natural to ask questions when trying new things.
However our scepticism can prevent us from embracing positive thinking and the benefits it provides us altogether.
So how can we keep a balance and ensure that our scepticism does not shut us out from what we deserve?
Keeping a balance?
Clearly, dwelling in negative thoughts all the time is of no benefit whatsoever. For our health, outlook on life and our general well-being, a constant negative frame of mind is very damaging.
Yet is it possible to be too positive?
What comes to mind when we think of someone who is always so positive? Perhaps it is someone who is a bit naïve or someone who is a bit out of touch with reality.
Therefore our inner sceptic attempt to brings us some grounding. It balances out the pessimist in us but also stops us from being blindly optimistic.
In the abstract this balancing scale makes sense, but when applied to real life scenarios there are always exceptions that make us rethink the rule.
In ordinary life we can always think of someone who has defied the odds, or done the impossible. Using a few famous examples – Stephen King’s first novel was rejected by over 30 publishers but he is now one of the best selling authors of all time.
Oprah was fired from her job because she was ‘unfit for television’ and there are even claims that Einstein couldn’t talk properly until the age of 4. Would it have been realistic to think at that time that his name would be synonymous with the word genius, or that any of these people would have been successful at all?
Based on these examples and the countless others that are less documented, we cannot claim to know what is realistic in every given circumstance.
Positive thinking is freedom!
The desires, ambitions and positive outlook we wish to achieve by using positive thinking do not need to be modified simply because our inner sceptic does not understand how it can fit into our reality today.
This is because the joys and the benefits that are achieved by thinking positively are completely beyond the limitations that our inner sceptic may place on ourselves.
The inner sceptic may find it more appealing to rely solely on the intellect or our objective senses as a way of understanding ourselves and what is possible in the world today as this way of knowing is more widely accepted, is safer and tested.
But does this way of knowing actually give us infallible knowledge in the first place?
Even with our 5 senses we have not discovered everything about the universe – the periodic table still has unknown elements, “new” planets are discovered and we are constantly researching new ways to do things and new ways to understand the world around us.
Indeed relying purely on our intellect or on what we believe to be realistic has its limitations.
So when we choose to think positively we go beyond them.
We open ourselves up to another way of knowing that is not subject to the same constraints: an innate way of knowing that is deep within us waiting to be reclaimed.
It is the certainty that what is for us shall be ours, and that all that belongs to us is good. It is trusting that our needs will be wonderfully met in every single way and that they will continue to be met throughout our lives as long as we place ourselves in a position of receptivity to the universe and to life.
Placing ourselves in this position of receptivity means we need to loosen our grip of the limited ideas of what is ‘realistic’ in today’s world especially since we cannot claim to have an absolute understanding of the universe or of all that is possible.
This explanation may still be unsatisfactory to our inner sceptic. Yet we cannot deny that those who choose to adopt this positive frame of mind and who place themselves in this position of receptivity then find themselves doing the seemingly ‘impossible’ whilst us, who allow our inner sceptics free reign, will observe them and eventually concede that their actions were indeed ‘miracles’ or perhaps that they were just ‘lucky’.
The very things we would deem unrealistic are taking place in their lives before our eyes.
However this is not to say that the intellect and spirituality are at odds or that there is no place for the intellectual at all.
The human is multi-faceted; the fact that we have the capacity to rationalise and use our intellect means that it does have a place in our lives.
Positive thinking does not mean completely shutting away any rationality or intellect. This is not a question of being a hopeless optimist who ignores any science at all and abdicates all reasoning at all.
There are laws that science has revealed to us that positive thinking alone cannot bypass e.g. can’t ignore gravity and fly in the sky etc. can’t make a pot of gold appear out of nowhere
We are an evolved species and have discovered many laws of our universe that we should use to our benefit.
We can always find a way to compliment the different ways of knowing; we can use all tools of knowing to understand the world and ourselves. A builder for example does not rely only on one tool to create a house.
What is really holding you back?
It may be worth analysing what is really behind our scepticism when it comes to positive thinking.
How much of our scepticism is due to fear? Perhaps we are afraid of adopting a positive frame of mind because if we do, and then our ambitions fail or we face obstacles, it hurts us much more. We find it harder to try again or to stay motivated.
However we must understand that obstacles and so called failures are never the end of our journeys and are never fatal for our ambitions. Every so called failure holds within it a rich learning experience and can make us much more resilient in the process of attaining what we want.
How much of our scepticism is due to doubt? Can we really keep a positive frame of mind all the time? Even when it gets really tough? What is the point in starting a journey that may fail? Will positive thinking even really make that much of a difference to our lives?
The strongest way to appease our doubts surrounding positive thinking is to simply put into practice this powerful tool and see what difference it will make in helping us achieve what we want. The adage of “try it and see for yourself” truly resonates, as positive thinking is a practical exercise that requires real work and real commitment.
It in no way involves being disingenuous or dishonest with the way we are feeling. There will be days when we feel discouraged or find it hard to see a silver lining when obstacles come our way. But this does not mean we must give up, or even suppress any discontent at all.
Positive thinking involves adjusting our reaction to the setbacks. And in this way it involves being mindful of what our thoughts and reactions actually are to the circumstances and then choosing to mould them into more positive and constructive ones.
Therefore we examine how we truly feel about a situation and then like a loving friend, parent or partner we offer ourselves understanding, and love when it comes to negative thoughts in order to find what is genuinely causing us to feel this way and give ourselves the opportunity to truly heal instead of suppressing it inside.
Adopting a positive mind-frame can be a long and arduous task especially in a world that can be highly stressful and increasingly sceptical at the same time. Nonetheless it is truly rewarding. There is an underlying current in ourselves that wants us to find happiness. Nearly all we do in life is to secure happiness – the job we seek, the partner we seek, the environment we want to be in – we select many of those things based on what will make us happy.
Therefore with our mental, emotional health, in our own thoughts and mind why not strive to create a positive ambiance that can only work in our favour?