• Tracy Rappold

Feeling Not-So-Positive?

I am a therapist. As a therapist, I have to be willing to be flexible and “read the room”, if you will. Every intervention works until it doesn’t. Then I have to listen to our client instead of my concepts of “right” and “wrong”. An intervention’s usefulness is not determined by the therapist but by the patient’s response. I ask: did this intervention help the patient? If not, I will assess the patient’s response to find out what her need is in this moment, then intervene again to see if we are on track. I also use interventions that I am willing to work on for myself; I try my best not to be a hypocrite.

But what helps in everyday living? What about when you are not actively needing day treatment or twice a week therapy? How do we get by when normal life gets in our way? What about the simple but common belief “I can’t do this”. Whatever “this” is; “I can’t do that, or I’m not smart enough, confident enough, or lovable enough.”

First of all, feel your feelings. Experience life, all of life. The poet Keats referred to “negative capability”, the capacity to tolerate the unknown, and dwell in it. Allow our feelings and experience to bring up the not yet known. Strength to face adversity comes from embracing, experiencing, and feeling.

Recognize thought distortions. Our minds can convince us of something that isn’t really true. These inaccurate thoughts reinforce negative thinking. If you can realize the thought is not truth, you can learn to challenge those thoughts.

Challenge negative thoughts. Think about how you would respond if a friend, spouse, child spoke about herself that way. You would probably offer a good rebuttal to his or her negative view. Apply the same kindness to yourself; you deserve the same.

Release judgement. Constantly comparing ourselves to other people contributes to dissatisfaction. Theodore Roosevelt said “Comparison is the thief of joy”. If we compare ourselves to others we may be left with feelings of inferiority.

Practice gratitude. Research shows that feeling grateful has a big impact on your levels of positivity and happiness. Noticing the things that are going well and making you feel happy gives a certain strength and power to them. It makes those things stand out.

Lastly, I like Mantras. “I will continue to learn and grow.” “I deserve to be happy and successful”. “Mistakes are a stepping stone to success”. These help me get out of negative self-talk. "Now I will have my feet planted firmly on the ground and I can learn." Mantras feel like a first step to be taken. Find the first step for you.

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