I Don’t Believe My Positive Thoughts

As a generally negative thinker, I have been fighting a life-long battle with myself to think positively.  I have tried positive self-talk, daily affirmations, writing, catch it-check it-change it, the law of positive attraction, and other forms of changing my brain.  I have not tried yoga or meditation yet.  Perhaps those are on the horizon.

What I find is that I don’t believe my own positive thoughts.  My brain finds itself in conflict with itself.  I struggle with the ideas I think about and find myself reverting back to my old way of thinking.  I think optimistic thoughts but my pessimistic side wins out.

  • “I am a good person” results in thoughts about all of the bad things I have done or thought of doing.
  • “I am successful” results in thoughts about all of my failures and all of the things I may never try due to fear of failure.
  • “I am an optimistic person” – yeah right.

Maybe I am not thinking the right positive thoughts.  Or maybe, positive thinking is not for me.  Melody Wilding, LMSW, has written a thought-provoking article entitled When Positive Thinking Doesn’t Work, This Does.  She states “Unreasonably optimistic thinking can trigger a self-defeating spiral, particularly for those prone to anxiety and depression. Research shows that while repeating positive self-statements may benefit people with high self-regard, it can backfire for those lacking confidence”

Ms. Wilding cites a few re-framing strategies that may help self-talk work in your favor.

  • Dig Yourself Out from “Debbie-Downer” Thoughts by using statements such as “I forgive myself for procrastinating” or “It’s okay for me to be angry”.
  • Give Interrogative Self-Talk a Try
    • Turn self-critical statements into questions to explore possibilities
      • Am I willing to do what it takes?
      • When have I done this before?
      • What if the worst case scenario should happen?
  • Focus on Progress, Not Perfection
    • Consider who you are becoming
    • I am a work in progress and that’s okay

Perhaps I’m not a failure when it comes to positive thinking.  My core beliefs of who I am and my place in the world win every time.  Considering where I was 18 years ago, hospitalized twice with depression, suicidal, hopeless, I have made incredible progress.  I am a work in progress and that’s okay.  Thank you, Melody Wilding, LMSW.



1 thought on “I Don’t Believe My Positive Thoughts

  1. I totally relate to this. Positive thinking often seems to frustrate me more than it helps. That’s actually what drew me to yoga and meditation. Instead of trying to change my negative thoughts into positive ones, I try to not identify with those thoughts in the first place. I’ve noticed that positivity tends to become more natural when I’m not caught up in thinking. Much easier said than done, though.


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