Podcast Episode 77 – Trying to Think Positive

Jul 2, 2023 | Podcast

I’m Diana SwIllinger, and you’re listening to the Renew Your Mind podcast. Episode 77 Trying to Think Positive. 

DIANA: Hey. Hey, everybody. I hope you’re all doing really well today. And if not, I’m hoping you’re going to be doing really well after listening to another episode with strategies to renew your mind. Because today I’m going to give you something pretty practical that you can try. But before we dive in, first, it’s been a while. I’m going to share a review from itunes and another thank you to each of you who has left a review there or if it’s not on itunes, you know you can still subscribe and that helps other people find the podcast easier. But for those of you who have thought about subscribing or leaving a rating or review but you haven’t yet, just go do it. It means a lot to me. And, you know, it’s actually one of the best ways you can let me know that the podcast is helping you because I do look and read every single review. So I hope you’ll go do that and, um, I’ll take the encouragement. I love feeling encouraged. 

So I’m going to share one with you today, though, and if you leave one, I just might share it here online on the podcast. This review says so on point. Diana has a way of getting to the point in a compassionate and empowering way. I always love it when she shares her own journey of mindset, discovery and the transformations she’s experienced. Well, thank you, North Yo. And on, um, that note, I’m going to get right to the point. 

Everyone else is telling you that all you need to do to have an amazing life is to think positive. But I am telling you that doesn’t work. At least it didn’t work for me or it might have worked temporarily if I gritted my teeth and white knuckled it and thought positive for just a little while. It might give me some good results, but I couldn’t sustain it. It took too much energy. And we hear things from other people about thinking positive all the time, like just go into that interview believing you’re awesome and you’ll get the job. Or just think your relationship with that person will get better. If you love them and they’ll respond with love and then they’ll start treating you differently, or just think you can do it and you’ll be able to do it. I don’t know if you’ve tried some of this stuff or you come across those think positive memes on instagram and Facebook and whatever. Uh, when I try them, they don’t work. Have you noticed that? Like, maybe this time if I just think positive, I’ll feel better. Maybe this time if I just think positive, everything will turn out okay? It doesn’t happen for me anyway. It doesn’t work. And in the examples I just gave, if you’ve noticed, there’s a common denominator okay, I was working on fractions with my daughter last week. 

There’s a common denominator in all of those positive thinking examples I just gave you. And it’s that the thing we hope will happen if we think positive is out of our control. It’s that the thing that we hope will happen if we just think positive is out of our control. You can go into a job interview and be super confident and think you’re awesome. And the hiring team still has their own brains and they’re going to make their own decision. Can thinking you’re awesome help you perform better in an interview? Yeah, of course it can. That part’s in your control. But getting the job is not in your control. No amount of positive thinking is going to suddenly give you control over someone else’s brain. They still get to choose their own thoughts and their own behavior and their own choices. 

You can think really hard and think only positive thoughts and repeat them all day long, and you still will never have control over another person’s brain. So what about in relationships? Well, I do happen to believe that one person can improve any relationship. I can even teach you how to improve any relationship you’re in. I believe wholeheartedly that that can happen. Because for you, you’ll be changing your experience, you’ll be changing your thoughts. You can change the emotions that you feel in your body. That will change how you act, how you respond, and you can have more peace, more satisfaction, more contentment, whatever. In any relationship you can. That’s possible. But one person cannot with positive thinking ever change what the other person thinks, feels, or does. 

So your positive thinking might not work to fix that relationship. And then there’s, uh, that old adage, you can do anything you put your mind to. We hear this more if you start noticing it. Just like if you go out and buy a certain car, you’ll start seeing all the cars just like yours on the street. If you start noticing all the times people say you can do anything you put your mind to. Whatever you want. Just put your mind to it and you can do it. Well, uh, I guess it’s true, as long as you pick something that you’re physically able to do. But I don’t care how much I think I can beat Michael Jordan in a one on one pickup game and think really positively about it, it’s never going to happen. I can think every single positive thought I can come up with and think it all day long. Like, I can do it. I’m amazing. 

I’ve made hoops before, so I’ll just make enough now, and I can beat them. It’s not going to happen. I’m never going to beat MJ. M at the hoop. Positive thinking won’t do it. So I’d imagine some of you might be thinking right about now. Like, okay, Diana, I hear you. But don’t worry. I’m not delusional. I know I can’t think my way to control other people, but I can just use positive thinking in the areas I can control. What about that? All right, I hear you. Let’s take a look at that. Let’s just say you want to go for a promotion, but you have this nagging thought that you don’t deserve a promotion. Well, this nagging thought you have, that you don’t deserve a promotion puts your brain to work to go find all the evidence it can to reinforce that thought. And then it becomes an ingrained belief and kind of an ingrained belief that might even be happening on the down low. You might not notice it’s in there. Your brain starts looking for evidence to prove that belief true. Like, see, that person over there has more degrees than me. That person has been here longer. Oh, and I made a mistake in that last project. The boss noticed it too. Or, that new position will have more responsibility, and I already don’t finish my work on any given day. 

So evidence, evidence, evidence. And that reinforced belief is set in place. I don’t deserve the promotion. But you really want the promotion, so you know you can’t keep thinking that way, or you won’t even try for it, right? So let’s just imagine you check in with your closest friend at work, like, m, I really want this promotion, but I don’t think I deserve it. And she says, Come on, you’re totally capable of that job, and you do deserve it. Stop telling yourself you don’t deserve it and tell yourself that you do. So you try and you tell yourself over and over, I do deserve the promotion, and I’m capable. And you think it day after day, yet you’re still not applying for the promotion. You still have this weird feeling like you’re trapped in your current job. And that thought that you don’t deserve it, you’re really trying to ignore it, but it’s like quietly nagging at you buried underneath all of your positive thinking doesn’t work. But why? Why can’t we just retrain the brain, think the new thought? Like, just tell the brain, think the new thought? Well, we m can change our brain to think new thoughts, but it’s just not as easy as we think. We can’t just slap on a new positive thought, because the problem is the unconscious beliefs that we have, that our brain has found so much evidence to support, that we’ve practiced thinking. 

All of that is just happening in the background of our brain, and often at an unconscious level, then the conscious part of your brain is working hard to find evidence to the contrary to support your new positive belief. But all you’ve done in this situation is you’ve had the conscious level of your brain start thinking positive and put it in a power struggle with the unconscious level of your brain. Just like two opposing views. They’re both there simultaneously. Duking it out. It doesn’t work. It’s kind of like a stalemate. This kind of battle is sometimes portrayed in TV and the movies where there’s a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. And they’ve got opposing thoughts and they argue with each other. And the poor person’s heads in the middle, like, I don’t know what to think. Usually they’re arguing about the devil’s, like, do this feel good thing. Do it for me. Do what feels good. Do what’s easy. Don’t worry about rules and stuff like that. And the angel version is like, no, let’s think about our future. Let’s think about our consequences. 

Let’s think about other people. How will this affect you? How will this affect others? Is this moral? So the devil is and I don’t know if this is a stretch, but this is how I’m thinking of it. So go with me. The devil is representing the unconscious. Easy road. Quick answer. I don’t want to work hard. It’s just giving. It’s like our primitive brain stepping up, wanting us to avoid pain, pursue pleasure, save energy. Like, don’t go for that promotion that’s going to cause pain because you’re going to have to work for it. And it’s not as pleasurable as just staying where you are. And it’s going to take energy. So don’t do it. The angel is like the conscious side of our brain. It knows it takes effort to do things the way we want to. If we want to contemplate something or consider something or think differently, it’s going to take energy. If we want to pursue the benefits and we want to employ our critical thinking brain, it’s going to take energy. But it knows it’s worth it. But again, if you, um, just take a positive thought, that’s like an opposing view of that unconscious belief. It’s just a back and forth struggle. Now that you’ve created in your brain, the internalized belief feels easier to think. It requires less of you in life, and it’s trying to resist the new positive thought that will help you get what you want in your life more growth, more goodness, more love and all of that. 

So basically, most of the time, if you just slap some positive thinking on top of that negative belief, all you’re doing is creating an inner struggle and cognitive dissonance. It’s why some days some moments we feel like we can conquer the world, and other days and other moments, we just want to hide in our bedroom and retreat. It’s, uh, a back and forth inner struggle. It’s exhausting doesn’t work. So if positive thinking doesn’t work, now what? What are we going to do? I propose that the key to moving off negative thinking, the kind of negative thinking that sabotaging you from the life you want, is to take a step back and ask yourself what is true? We are thinking thoughts on default all the time, and we’re not even asking what’s actually true. Every thought we have, every belief that we have, there’s some truth to it. Like I said, our brain will go searching for evidence to prove it’s true. It just forgets to look for all the other evidence to consider that maybe it’s not true, or maybe there’s something better to think. But we can start here. Okay? What is true? The most common thing that comes up with basically everyone I coach is some version of I’m not enough, I’m not good enough. Something’s wrong with me. I keep screwing up. So I want to take one of those I want to take one of those thoughts and show you how you can start to move out of that belief. And by the way, it’s normal for us to have these beliefs. Like I said, every time I coach somebody, it comes up at one of our sessions. We all think some version of this. 

It’s a human struggle. That’s normal to think I’m not enough. I think everybody, every single person in your life, every single person you see in the neighborhood, every single person you see on TV, every person in our country, across the globe created by God, has this internal doubt about themselves. So I’m just saying you’re normal. Congratulations. You’re a normal human, okay? And even knowing that, I think, can give you some relief. But I still want to get a little more practical here. So let’s try the thought I keep screwing up. So if your thought is, I, uh, keep screwing up, what doesn’t work is slapping on a positive thought on top of it. Like, I’m doing great in the grand picture. My mistakes don’t matter. Everything’s great, okay? Doesn’t work. 

Because in your unconscious belief system, you think your mistakes do matter, and you have already compiled lots of evidence to prove it. And you’re not going to believe a positive thought like that. So I think the best way to move off a painful negative thought is to offer a different, non opposing true thought. Because this is an important reason the brain thinks it’s true that you keep screwing up. If that’s the thought you have, I promise you, if that thought’s in your brain, your brain thinks it’s true and it’s going to fight for it, so let’s just not argue with it. Maybe it is true, right? What’s true about this? Do we screw up? Do I screw up? Yeah, I do screw up sometimes. That is true. Fine. Okay. What else is true? Well, lots of people screw up. That’s true. Okay, great. I screw up. Lots of people screw up. That’s true. What else? Sometimes I don’t screw up. HM, true. That is true. What else is true? Sometimes people screw up and it affects our lives or the lives of others. Yep, that’s true. What else? Sometimes people screw up and it doesn’t affect their life or others. Yeah, that’s true too. And there’s times I don’t screw up. Huh? What’s true about those moments? Well, in those moments, I do things well and everything’s fine. All right, so what’s true is sometimes I screw things up and sometimes I don’t.

That is a believable new thought, is it not? Even in that simple. Um, basically we’re just adding, sometimes I screw up, sometimes I don’t. But even in that simple addition of admitting there’s sometimes I don’t screw up. Just by slowing it down, seeing what’s true, not trying to force the unconscious brain off its tightly held belief, we find some relief. So what is true is sometimes I screw up, sometimes I don’t. The truth is, I’m a human doing my best. Sometimes I screw up, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes other people screw up, sometimes they don’t. I bet there’s no person who never screws up. And our brain is willing to believe those things. It’s willing to believe, in addition to I keep screwing up is sometimes I don’t. And we take a baby step off of that thought. We can’t just slap on a positive thought, I’m doing great, everything’s fine. The unconscious brain will reject it, it’ll fight with it, and you’re just back to that internal battle. So we have to shift to a believable thought that we think has truth. When you do that, then you can spend some time practicing that new thought. It will feel lighter. It will feel believable. It will gently guide your brain to loosen up its grip on your deeply held, unconscious belief. And I am telling you, this process works. 

It works when we do it on ourselves, and it works when we’re encouraging other people too. I do this all the time with my kids and friends even. I don’t try to get them off their deeply held beliefs. They’re just like, oh, I hear you, but whatever, mom. So instead I’m like, yep, it’s true. You suck at math. What else is true? I don’t even argue with what they’re saying. But when I keep asking what else is true? What else is true? It’s amazing how their brains will open up and find different things that are true. And we take a baby step off of that deeply held, negative, self sabotaging belief and start down a different path. And then tomorrow, or next week, or next month, we can take another baby step out of that rut to a new way of thinking. Ways that feel less like a burden, less like doubt, less like overwhelm and more like hope, more like empowered, more like peace. And the cool thing is, if we do this enough. We will train our brain to know how to loosen up its grip on other negative, self sabotaging thoughts. Even on its own. 

We start giving our brain a new way to function. Are you with me? One thought at a time. We can teach ourselves new practices that renew the mind, that lighten the load, that create possibility. No positive thinking required. 

All right, y’all, that’s it for today. Actually, before I go, I’m having a free webinar on, um, September 24, 2021. If you would like to go to that free webinar, it’s about feeling joy no matter what situations going on in your life. If you’d like to go to that webinar, head on over to Rympodcast Um.com and look for the monthly webinar link and sign up, and I’ll see you there. All right, now that is it for today, so I’ll catch you next week. Take care of you. 

As an advanced certified life coach, I help Christian women trying to live their best lives, but they still feel unsatisfied and stuck. I teach thought management skills that work so you can enjoy life again and step into who God has created you to be. Don’t forget to head on over to Rympodcast.com to get my free resources or a free coaching call.

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