Today was a good day. I left the house on time, having done all of the little jobs I had planned to do. I arrived too early for my meeting, allowing a little time to let my daughter play on the swings she so dearly loves. Of the row of four swings, two were hanging as they should and the other two had been coiled around the pole and were way out of even my reach. I am quite tall.
Sitting watching my daughter swing higher than high, it occurred to me that this is one of those ‘glass half full’ things people seem to go on about. Had I had a bad morning, I may have focused upon the two swings that were so out of reach and the impact upon child’s play that this may have had. Those two imaginary children stood impatiently queuing needlessly for a turn on the functioning swings. The frustration as parents try to free them from above their heads, to no avail. The prejudices and stereotypes that flow through the mind as you try to imagine just WHO would have done such a thing.
Instead, it was a good day.
The glass was half full. There were two swings still in perfect working order. I sat upon the bench and focused upon the smiles and gleeful cries from my daughter as she kicked up higher and higher. I took in the sunshine, the greenery, the smiles from passers by. I felt grateful for this little bit of stolen play that I could witness in a day all too often filled with rushing from one task to another.
Positive thinking. Described by Remez Sasson as “a mental and emotional attitude that focuses on the bright side of life and expects positive results.”. Well, that is all very well, but it is a difficult attitude to maintain when you are having a bad run of luck, you are feeling unwell or when things just aren’t going right. I think that quite often, just thinking positively is not going to help. Sometimes, it needs to be a little bit deeper than that.
In my experience, negative thoughts are deeply connected to experiences, feelings, behaviours and the rest of the stuff that makes us complex creatures tick. It has taken me two rounds of cognitive behavioural therapy to even begin to understand where my negative thought patterns may have come from, let alone how to challenge them. The beginning of my journey into understanding the way my brain works has enabled me to deal a little more effectively, with my issues. It has grounded my sense of self and given me a deeper understanding of how certain situations affect me and how to deal with them. In times like this, where I feel elated and grateful for what the world has to offer, this is something to be proud of. Something to share with others. Something to say.
On the days where the disabled swings are at the forefront, the achievements I have made reduce in size and become diminished by the insurmountable challenges ahead. What good is positive thinking then? What good is putting a positive slant on something when you are defeated, exhausted and irritable? Those are the days when sometimes, it’s okay to acknowledge that there may be a hole in the glass. It just isn’t going to go well. There may well be frustration, needless queuing and interrupted child’s play. You may feel furious, dejected, defeated or any of the multitude of negative emotions that we possess the keys to. This is okay. It is okay to feel negative emotions, some of the time. To appreciate and acknowledge them. To understand them and piece them into their place in your journey.
Read the full book here. <—- The Velveteen Rabbit.
Read about Positive Thinking here. <—- Why Positivity isn’t always a good thing.
Read about CBT here. <—- Mind Website with plenty of info about CBT.
An Interactive exhibition exploring the themes
surrounding mental health, at more than face value.
Saturday 10th October 9.30am – 5.30pm
The Institute of Mental Health, Triumph Road