By: Dr. Erica Wollerman
So I must truly be a grumpy person to have not just one, but two blogs dedicated to my concerns about the positive thinking movement! Kidding, sort of! I wanted to dedicate this blog to a discussion of what to do instead for those of you who agreed with my concerns about positive thinking – or who have had the experience so many have, which is for it to just not work for them. For example, you have a bad day and reach out to a trusted loved one who tells you, just think positive, after all it could be worse. And you then, well, continue to feel terrible about your bad day and then feel even worse because you logically know it could be worse, but you still feel terrible about the day you had. If you’ve ever been there, this blog is for you!
As I mentioned in the first blog on this series (if you want to read it, check it out here!) I'd like to propose something different and what I believe to be more effective than positive thinking, which is Realistic thinking. This is thinking that lives in the middle of completely negative thinking and completely positive thinking. Realistic thinking is a way of acknowledging that things might feel really hard, painful, or difficult but they won’t stay that way. It is a way of acknowledging the truth of your pain while also knowing that pain is temporary and will end sometime. Realistic thinking accepts that life has its’ ups and downs, but tries to help you ride those waves rather than getting stuck in the undertow. I believe that as a therapist, being a realist has been an incredible gift and one that I try to share with my clients.
What does realistic thinking look like in action?
If you notice that in the steps of realistic thinking, there is a lot of what I call, “holding space.” Just holding space for your emotions, struggle, thoughts, and experience and not in a critical or judgmental way, but in a curious way – wondering what is going on and allowing the experience to happen. “Holding space” is a big part of what we do in trusted and safe relationships, like in therapy, where we sit with difficult emotions together, just knowing that we are not alone. It is not fixing them. It is not problem solving. It is not positive thinking (which communicates, that feeling is too uncomfortable for me to feel with you). It is simply allowing someone to know, I am here and I care to share your pain with you. This is what I believe is the gift that the way I do therapy can bring to my clients. This is my goal as a therapist - that I help you know you are not alone in the struggle, that you are heard, understood, and on the way to growth. Even though it is painful and difficult. The path towards change and growth always is but we are on it together.
At Thrive, we take a positive, client centered approach to therapy that is focused on creating a genuine connection with our clients. We love being space holders for you! If you would like to talk with a Thrive Therapist about yourself, your child, or teen attending therapy, please reach out to us by phone at 858-342-1304.
As always, thanks for reading and comments are always welcome regarding any issues around child or teen psychotherapy services in San Diego by Thrive Therapy Studio.
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Blogs from the Thrive Family!
Musings from Erica, Jennifer, Maria, Kim, Andrea, Molly, Abbey, and Ying-Ying