I just read a research article1 that critiqued positive thinking for patients with cancer. The authors said that there is very little evidence to support positive thinking as a coping strategy to improve survival or coping. They also said that people with cancer might feel pressured to “do” positive thinking just right, which added to their stress instead of helping them cope. Well it got me to thinking about positive thinking and I want to be clear that sometimes I just don’t feel positive. Sometimes I just need to wallow in self-pity for a few minutes or maybe a few days. And I don’t beat myself up about it. It is important to identify and own negative thoughts because we know that holding in negative feelings is not healthy. But once I have taken a good look and really felt the negative stuff, I know it’s time to get back on the positive thinking train. Even if the scientific research isn’t solid on this, I just feel better when I think positively. So here’s a tip if you are ready to switch from negative to positive thinking, especially if you just can’t seem to force yourself into the positive side: Grab a paper and pen or get on your computer and WRITE DOWN YOUR POSITIVE THOUGHTS. This has worked great for me. When I doodle or take notes, I write a positive affirmation. Start out simple – just write YES. When I am feeling blue, I write down something like, “I feel fabulous!” Pretty soon, I am able to say it out loud, and the positive feelings follow those positive thoughts, and guess what? I feel fabulous!
1Tod A et al (2011) A critique of positive thinking for patients with cancer. Nursing Standard. 25, 39, 43-47.