The Power of Balanced Thinking
By: Christine Hammond, LMHC
As a natural optimist, I’m great at seeing the glass half full. However, life has taught me that there are times when positive thinking can do more harm than good. For it is through the pain, suffering, hurt, sadness, and discouragement that a person gains strength, character, courage, determination, and perseverance.
Optimists. It is natural for an optimist to overlook the negative. However, dismissing uncomfortable topics arbitrarily without allowing the opportunity for self-reflection, leads to a lack of awareness. This avoidance can prevent healing in the most inward parts of a person thereby creating an environment where the same root issue resurfaces over and over.
Pessimists. Likewise, it is natural for a pessimist to overlook the positive. But neglecting to embrace even the simple joys in life and feel the emotion can leave a person flat. This type of avoidance can also prevent healing because it seems like life will never get better again.
Balance. There are times when positive thinking is needed but there are also times when negative thinking is beneficial. The concept is to have a healthy weight of both so a person can continue to heal and grow. As with anything, the key is finding a balance between two extremes.
Thoughts. Creating a balance in thinking requires a person to analyze which beliefs are given more value and which are dismissed. The frequency of deliberations is not necessarily an indicator. Rather, it is the opinions that then turn into some emotional response or action that determine the weight. Try to spend just one ordinary day recording thoughts and then mark the ones that had some type of strong reaction. Then evaluate those few to see if there is a balance between positive and negative.
Promises. Throughout a person’s life, there are internal, sometimes external, promises a person makes. They come in the form of, “I will never do that again,” “I will always do that in the future,” or “I’m not going to be like that person.” These pledges are cemented into the subconscious causing a person to react a certain way as if on autopilot. This is especially true when a traumatic event generating an intense emotional response is attached to the phrase. Take some time to discover these promises and write them down. Again, a balance helps to maintain a healthy perspective.
Focus. Ever heard of the phrase, “You are what you eat?” Well, a person is also what they think. It takes mental discipline to put aside unproductive thoughts (these can be either positive or negative), and intentionally focus. Think of the brain as a muscle that needs to be worked on a regular basis. It is exercised through control of what is tossed around and what is tossed out. For some, this is a very difficult task due to attention-deficit, brain injuries, or chemical imbalances in the brain. So be patient if it takes a bit longer than expected.
Distractions. One of the best gifts a person can do is to allow some distractions to naturally happen. This can stop a thought train from going off the rails. Be flexible with simple interruptions as sometimes they are blessings in disguise. Have several intentional diversions available whenever needed to help keep the balance between the positive and negative.
There is great power when a person allows both the positive and negative to transform their thinking. It is like breaths of fresh air when then realize that life doesn’t need to be lived inside one extreme or another.
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