Did you read it?
If you haven’t, you might want to take a few moments to look now.
But it doesn’t matter if you don’t.
Even though I think you’ll enjoy it.
See how bossy I’m not being? It’s because I want to talk about the positivity movement, and how bossy it is.
Because seriously, have you ever noticed how pushy the THINK POSITIVE crowd is?
Do this. Think that. And whatever you do, don’t think that!
It’s a lot of work.
It feels like there’s always something we should be doing.
To “help ourself. ”
And some of the messages are frightening.
At the end of the day, it’s easy to think that feeling non-chipper is wrong.
As if we’ve failed in some way.
As if we should be doing better.
Positive psychology is swaggy right now
Everyone’s doing it.
(Swaggy means dope. Cool. Popular. I Googled hip words and this was number 3. Just trying to stay current, you know.)
But just because everyone else leaps onto a water-slide filled with alligators doesn’t mean you have to. If it works for you, fine. But for some people, like me, it doesn’t.
Here are 5 common but flawed positivity beliefs that can make you feel worse, not better. Plus a fresh way of seeing things for genuine ease and contentment:
FAULTY BELIEF #1: POSITIVE THOUGHTS ARE BETTER THAN NEGATIVE ONES
As the author of a sort-of-spirituality blog, I am, as you would expect:
Fearless. But also relaxed.
Highly skilled in social situations.
And like any respectable goddess, I dance like an angel (as long as it’s 1990, The Dance Exponents are playing, and I’ve had 2 jugs of beer).
My friend just saw what I wrote and asked who I was talking about.
When I said, me, she laughed.
She said, “What about how you get depressed?”
Alright. Since we’re going there. I do get depressed sometimes.
Even about small things.
And sometimes, I have loads of critical thoughts.
I mean, I have gentle and contented ones too. But I also have those, you are an idiot ones.
Like the time I walked through a crowded restaurant with the zip of my skirt undone while wearing a thong. (The skirt was tight. I was young. There was a lot of bum.)
And I worry.
I worry that I left the stove on.
I worry that I’ll accidentally do something to ruin my marriage.
I even worry about writing emails. If you emailed me about a serious matter and didn’t receive an answer, I probably spent half an hour writing a reply then felt too shy to send it.
And I often feel awkward and uncool.
Like when the cashier at the French cafe forgot to give me my change.
And I was too nervous to tell her.
You may be more screwy than me. But I suspect you’re not.
My biggest problem with the think positive movement is the assumption that there’s something wrong with our lunatic thoughts. That there’s something wrong with us for having them.
But there’s not.
Your mind is just being a mind. And having a mind is called being human.
Once you realize this
Strange or anxious thoughts are not nearly so unpleasant.
We can do battle with our thoughts.
Or we can see them as just thoughts.
We don’t have to try and notice them. But when we do, we can choose to engage them or simply wait for them to pass.
But don’t negative thoughts cause our life to be bad?
If you read Part One of this article, you’ll know that the evidence about the benefits of positive thinking is sketchy at best. In fact, trying to perk yourself up with positive self talk—unless you’re already feeling awesome—makes a lot of people feel worse.
Sometimes it can be helpful to challenge a thought. To ask, is this really true?
But even still.
Having grumpy, whiny or insecure thoughts doesn’t make us flawed. It makes us human.
Denying our grumpy, insecure side. Judging our self for failing to be upbeat, and just generally wishing we were other than we are, is far more negative than just saying, ah, so yeah, I have negative thoughts.
Accept your negative thoughts, and you start to genuinely feel better about yourself.
This might not happen immediately.
But the more you remind yourself that you’re O.K., even though you’re breaking every get positive rule in the “Be Chirpy or Die” rulebook, the more you genuinely start to feel O.K.
Then you don’t have to try to be anything. You just are.
FAULTY BELIEF #2: WE MUST LEARN TO CONTROL OUR THOUGHTS
Trying to control our thoughts is like lassoing a bucking bronco made of jelly.
Sure we can learn to control them somewhat, through meditation practice or white knuckle determination. But it’s also missing the point.
Thoughts roll in from who knows where.
They roll out again.
And this happens all day, every day.
One minute we’re thinking about the sad state of public health care in the US and the next we’re counting how many days we ate watermelon and mint salad this summer.
(About 150. We like it.)
It can feel overwhelming when we’re beset by an angry, negative bunch of thoughts.
They seem solid.
As if our whole entire head is filled with the horrible thought.
But here’s the irony.
Trying to change our thoughts, especially when they’re gnarly, is often the MOST DIFFICULT WAY to have them leave.
We might be able to manage it for a short time.
But trying to feel optimistic and happy all the time?
If we don’t feel like it?
Seconds later, our crappy thoughts are back.
What can be more effective is to see them as just thoughts.
Separate from us.
Our annoying thoughts are like an annoying dinner guest who talks loudly and annoyingly all evening.
But they do eventually leave.
And the sooner we ignore them, and stop trying to control them …
the sooner they do.
I don’t know about you.
But I find this reassuring.
FAULTY BELIEF #3: EASE DEPRESSION BY THINKING LESS NEGATIVE THOUGHTS
The advice to think positive is even more funny (stupid) when we’re feeling depressed.
Because depression IS a head full of crappy negative thoughts.
People often think that we feel depressed because we think negatively. And that if we could just change our thoughts, then the depression would lift.
But there’s more to it.
Depression is what it feels like when the warm, loving, and wise, part of us, quietens down. Let’s call it our heart. And as a result, all we’re left with is cantankerous thoughts.
So instead of this sort of balance
We have this
It’s like our negative thoughts have been given a megaphone, and the guy in the sound booth has left the building with the volume turned up high.
Our heart is still hundo P with us. It’s just taking a break.
(Hundo P means 100%. Cool word #18)
Depressed people are hilarious.
Have you ever been depressed?
Have you ever been with someone who’s depressed?
If you answered yes to either, you’ll know that depressed people are not hilarious to be around. It can be pretty challenging actually. But a depressed person’s thoughts are often so skewed and out of balance, they are ludicrous.
When I’m depressed, I feel listless. As if I’ve had cement poured into my blood.
Innocent comments feel like a right hook into my deepest insecurities.
I know that when I’m depressed my perception is faulty.
But when I’m in the middle of it, it seems like other people are being dickish.
Another thing that happens, is it feels like everyone talks more loudly. I feel like my personal space is being invaded.
I try and think, ah look at everyone having fun. Isn’t it great to see couples and families together. How cool is it that my backyard is like the United Nations.
But after about 10 seconds I’m back to wondering why all the annoying people in the world decided to hold a an Annoying Person’s Convention in Venice today.
In fact, trying to change my thoughts when I’m depressed is like asking a small kitten to direct traffic on the 405.
(The 405 is my favorite congested Los Angeles freeway. Franco and I spent an hour on the on-ramp around the time we got together. It always feels like returning to the scene of one of our first dates.)
The good news is. We don’t have to believe our thoughts. In fact, when we’re feeling like this, it’s a good idea to actively NOT believe them.
When mine get really bad, I think of it like I’m having a “thought cold.” A thought cold is like a flu of the mind. And like the flu, it feels crappy, but I know it will pass.
I just try and keep my germs to myself.
It’s not like I always stay in bed when I feel flat. Or have to be alone. Sometimes it’s really helpful to go to the movies or just carry on with my day.
The bottom line is that being depressed sucks. And when we’re depressed we aren’t ourselves.
But whether you decide to ride it out, talk to someone, take medication—know this:
Your heart, with all it’s warm feelings, is still there, it’s just being quiet at the moment. It will return, and with it, so will a sense of ease.
It doesn’t feel like you’re intact or that there’s love all around you. But you are. And there is.
(Read more about depression and depression and relationships)
FAULTY BELIEF #4: RESEARCH BASED HAPPINESS STRATEGIES WILL ENHANCE YOUR WELL-BEING
It’s easy to be swayed by professors and best selling authors who seem to have all the answers.
Don’t get me wrong, I love learning and reading and picking up new ideas.
I’ve tried plenty. And I’ll try more.
But in figuring out what to do, there really is only one thing to consider
For instance, I have no idea if reading my articles is helpful for you.
But you will.
And helpful doesn’t mean it always feels good. Learning new things can feel discombobulating. They might even make us feel sad or angry initially.
But we usually know when things are true and useful for us.
If something doesn’t gel—even though it appears to work for other people, and sounds logical—leave it be.
Some of the biggest knots we get ourselves into come from following the advice of others.
Dare to trust what feels right for you.
If you want to curl up in a ball and wait for your stupid thoughts to pass—do that.
If you feel like going outside to breath some outside air—do that.
If you want to call a friend for no other reason than to cry—do that.
If you want to challenge some of your thoughts—do that.
If you want to Google the latest in happiness research—do that.
If you want to send me a pair of size 10 red boots—do that. (That was sneaky)
If you want to talk to someone, professionally—do that.
If you feel like going to a bookstore—do that.
If you feel like writing—do that.
If you want to ditch every self help book you’ve ever bought and play badminton—do that.
And if you’re not guided one way or another, play around.
There’s no right or wrong.
FAULTY BELIEF #5: SELF IMPROVEMENT ALWAYS REQUIRES ACTION
Can I share one of my life changing moments?
A few years ago, I was talking with a friend of mine.
He said to me, “You’re know you always see the negative side of things, don’t you?”
I thought I was upbeat.
People thought I was pleasant to be around.
I couldn’t be one of those negative people.
I was worried.
What should I do? How do I fix myself?
Here’s the bit that changed everything. He said:
“You don’t have to do anything.”
He also told me that I probably wouldn’t always be this way. But that I was right now.
When I thought about it, my negativity made sense.
I’d been sick for years. None of my plans had eventuated. It probably wasn’t surprising I’d got into the habit of expecting things not to work out.
I love the idea that it’s okay to be how we are.
It’s the quickest way to move forward anyway. Especially once we stop judging whatever grizzly insecurity we have.
We ALL feel insecure. Even people who look like they don’t, do.
Feeling at ease is about connecting with our sense of self love. We all have it. It just gets covered over by our finicky mind obsessing over how we’re not good enough.
We think feeling confident, calm and contented comes from taking action. But teeny shifts—uncoverings—happen constantly. Without us realizing.
While we’re working at the job we hate but that feeds the family. While we’re rubbing our husband’s feet. While we’re walking the dog. While we’re reading another rejection letter. While we’re curled in a ball wondering how long this can go on for.
Things are shifting. And over time it accumulates and we feel it.
I’m sure that one day, just naturally, I will have less critical thoughts.
But for now, sometimes—not always—this is how I am.
And it’s O.K.
It has to be.
Because this is all I got.
PS: Love to hear your thoughts ideas and experiences if you want to say hi below 🙂
Your awesome, and you help me feel better. =D keep on!
Oh good! Thanks for stopping by 🙂 Have a great day.
I will use the brain and heart on the see-saw to help me keep things in perspective!
It does feel like that, doesn’t it. Kind of like, where did all my normal feelings go? Ha. Cool that the image helped! Nice to hear from you:-)
Lisa, what can I say? This is fantastic. It’s all about don’t judging, and accepting. These are the keys to happy living. And you write so well, and the drawings really add up. You are an inspiration 🙂
They are the keys, aren’t they. It’s just so easy to forget sometimes! But then, we can accept that we forget, and everything’s better again. Thanks for saying hi, Thais:-)
I think discombobulated should be counted as a cool word. Thanks for the bit about crashing your car, I have done that, and also wonder what was wrong with me.
It is a cool word isn’t it. Was delighted to be able to plop it in! And yeah, the car things sucks. I used to feel like that a lot. Silly old thoughts.
Not at all sure how you do it but you have a uncanny way of knowing the exact thing that will
make people feel right with themselves. Self love is a tall order for many. Your wisdoms are
so fun and enjoyable you even make feeling depressed okay and acceptable. Almost to the
point of being enjoyable. That is where the magic lies… acceptance for being human. Vulnerable
real, authentic and lovable just as we are. Thank you again for bringing so much humor
while sharing such important information. Your perspectives are so refreshing.
Sending enormous amounts of peace, love, light and harmony.
Funny you should say that I make depression seem almost enjoyable. I feel like that too, I mean, when I think of depression it doesn’t seem THAT bad, but then when I’m in it again, I’m thinking, oh yeah, so it really does suck! Happy Halloween and thanks for saying hi!
Thank you Lisa for the reminder to trust what it feels right for me 🙂
Sometimes I think we get stuck trying to figure what is the best answer, the best decision, the best of the best, but we forget to think about what feels right.
You’re very welcome, Luah. It is easy to forget isn’t it. I don’t know about you but I can over think pretty much anything!
Lisa you are amazing! Your little cartoons crack me up, I can totally relate
As always, amazing! Love your writing AND even more, your guidance. Especially about depression which is very helpful. I have dealt with it for years, even as a child. Over time I have seen the ridiculousness of the thoughts that crowd in at the dark times. Not to belittle it or those who are challenged by it, but to say that looking back once on the other side, the thoughts are INSANELY silly.
Your wisdom is appreciated. Thanks for sharing it, Joan
(already posted it on FB)
Hi Joan, They are ridiculous aren’t they. And they are really NOT funny in the moment. When someone else is having a crazy thought spell, I would never say they’re ludicrous to them, I just remind myself they’re still in there and that they’ll be back to their non weird thinking soon. It’s challenging isn’t it. For both parties. Big Halloween hug. And thanks so much for saying hi and taking the time to write. And for sharing!
Lisa I love your writing, and there is so much common sense(which is missing these days) advice. There are so many people who feel superior by telling others how they “should” be. (Like them:))))
I think you’re brilliant!!!!
Thanks Chris =)
hundo P agree! As always I love your writing, and the pictures. …
BTW, your cards have help get me through some incredible life challenges over the last 2 years. Thank You. I am hugely in your debt. Where do I send the red boots? 🙂
That’s so cool to hear the cards have been useful. They helped me so much too. Before I made them into cards I was carrying around the pile of raw watercolor images. Ha ha. Anyway, thanks for saying! Many ease-ful wishes to you. (I giggled re the boots. Funny!)
Thank you for this wonderful blog! Yes, it is wonderful for me to hear this right now … I love that your give permission to be in any mood that one might be in … up, down or in the middle! I am human too … go figure!?!
I was recently diagnosed with Trigeminal Neuralgia. Having lived a pretty healthy life, having given up smoking cigarettes just about a year ago, changed my eating habits to eating healthy and been exercising regularly for the last few years and getting back in the pool swimming just a few weeks ago … I was feeling on top of the world! Suddenly, this crazy pain … A bit depressing, to put it mildly. I am a senior woman … very happy to be so too! Suddenly those negative thoughts are swimming in my head like sharks after blood in the water. Your post has lifted my spirits by reminding me that “normal” is quite ok … if not a hundo p ok! So, this coming Tuesday I see a neurologist. Hopefully she will have some fabulous magic to take this pain!
Thank you for your words here today … I have renewed hope and know that feeling a bit down about this pain … is ok!
BTW – your art work is marvelous and really sets off your thoughts in words. Thank you for being YOU! Wishes to you for love, light and size 10 red boots! ~ Sarah
Hi Sarah, Sorry to hear of your recent diagnosis. I hadn’t heard of trigeminal Neuralgia, but a quick Google and now I know a bit about it. Sounds really unpleasant and painful. Hoping your doctor has some fabulous magic when you see them too=) Thank you for reaching out and saying hi (and for saying nice things about my wee drawings!) XX
You’re amazing! Thank you for this blog and all the other blogs you’ve written. You’ll never know how much good you’ve done in my life.
That’s so wonderful to hear that my articles have been useful. Thank you, Herb.
Hi. Never sand hi before. But thank you. I like what you write, makes me smile. I feel good now, so good, compared with a few years ago. Just finished my science bachelor, but my dream lies in another direction. I want to teach. But I don’t want to study education-related anything. I don’t want to keep studying, actually (happy parents with my decision (not really, they both have a PhD)). And so, I have a dream, but I don’t know where to start. But I do feel that studying mainstream psychology or education practices is not my path. I don’t feel they do any good. Not that there are no good or excellent psychologists or teachers, but I feel that they are good because they listen to their heart and to their students/”patients” heart, not because they listen 100% to theory. I feel more love and acceptance is needed with children, better listening and new ideas. If children don’t like school, maybe it’s about time we seriously think why. (And emotions and how to live with them should also be taught in school). And I don’t like the idea that “adults” know better, and are the authority. I feel it’s what you mention about people telling you what to do and what not to do because they “know better”. Including psychologists, that have studied so hard, that they can look down on you. No one should do that. Not even to kids. They need guidance, yes, but I believe that the guide (or teacher, or parent) should acknowledge that they make mistakes, too, and they are learning (yes, the adults are still learning and making mistakes, and many just think that letting it be known to little ones is dangerous; I think it more dangerous to tell them such awful lies). I believe that the belief that we know better, is very dangerous, and trickles down into young minds, making them believe that they will know better, when grown up.
Well, thank you for sharing your thoughts with all of us.
And let us all keep growing and learning.
PS. Ohh, the e-mails… They are so hard to me. Sometimes I do not even answer, for months, even, and then feel like crap every day, for now being able to answer, for taking too long. 🙂
Oh that’s such an important message isn’t it—that adults don’t automatically know better. Like you say, so often children know better. When I look at my nephews and nieces they have so much insight and creativity. Watching them grow up is like holding my breath hoping their innate belief in themselves doesn’t get too squashed out of them. Thank you so much for saying hi. Wishing you every bit of love and luck with your dreams and ventures.
Yes, I always enjoy your posts and try to incorporate your philosophy so life doesn’t seem so difficult. But what can one do when self-love is impossible to achieve? If I were someone on the other side of the table of me, I would not care for me, so how can I possibly like myself? Personally I don’t like people who are self-absorbed, apathetic and don’t care about much about anything if it doesn’t relate to them. I’m talking about narcissistic personality disorder and nobody likes a narcissist. Do you understand my dilemma? People who think they know me don’t really know how shallow I am because they themselves aren’t. If you have some words of wisdom here, please share them with me.
Here’s how I see it… We are all trying, in one way or another. And this, I find, deeply lovable. So even if we are self absorbed, or whatever, we are trying to feel things. We are trying to experience love and satisfaction. You, are reading my emails. And my posts. And this is deeply lovable. Not because they are my posts, they could be anyone’s. All of us here, are trying. We are trying to feel good. We are trying to feel calm. We are trying to feel self assured and confident. To feel loved. To walk easily over this planet. To look at those gnarly bits of ourselves which don’t seem so easy, and learning how to live with them. You may be more prone to thinking of your own pleasure first, or whatever it is (I’m just guessing from what you’ve said). I wonder if learning to love and accept that side of you—without judging it—might be your gift. You assume other people won’t like it if they see it, but I’m not so sure. In your honesty and vulnerability I feel a connection. As I’m sure everyone does who reads this. I am sorry if this answer to your question is inadequate. But I am deeply grateful that you asked it.
Thanks Lisa! Great stuff! It’s nice to read your stuff because it’s helpful to know there is someone else out there who deals with this crap like me! But who’s also not going down without a fight! Sometimes I think we’re depressed because we’re so good at it! I mean I’ve met people who wallow in their depression, those who just give up completely and fall apart then there are those of us who are fixers. Who know that they can fix this if only they can just figure it out! Yet I don’t think depression is something that can be ‘fixed’ it must be accepted and you must become Ok with it and let it be, give up trying to fix it and let go. I think part of the problem is even thinking that there is a problem! You see fixers must fix everything even their own thoughts their own feelings so if there’s a thought or feeling that’s not what we want then we must fix it! Instead of just letting them pass through like clouds in the sky. Yes some are rain clouds and some are white and fluffy. Yet we fixers tend to ignore the white fluffy ones and hone in on the rainy ones! But that’s not how the brain works it just gives us more of whatever we give attention to. If we’re giving lots of attention to our rainy clouds then it just creates more for us to ‘fix’! Lol… Something that we need to realize is that thoughts and feelings are just abilities….our brain is just a computer that kicks out information we’re searching for.. kind of like Google. Sometimes it’s right on and other times it’s just a bunch of crap. Yet we tend to focus in on the crap then wonder why we feel like crap! Lol. For whatever reason we’ve trained our computer that we’re interested in all this crap so we can try to fix it! So it’s just doing what we’ve trained it to do. It doles out this stuff left and right. The ‘fix’ is just to step back from it all and let it all float past like clouds in the sky. If there’s a cloud you can use then great if all you see is rainy ones just leave them alone! The fix is to quit trying to fix it and Do Nothing about it. Accept that you have these rainy clouds! It’s Ok to have them! It’s even NORMAL! What’s not normal is to try to ‘fix’ them. They don’t need to be fixed. They need to be left alone. Do Nothing. Doing nothing is a lot easier too… Do nothing with the rainy clouds. Starve them of your attention! Let go of trying to fix them! Do nothing. Then just wait and let them pass and the rainy clouds will soon all clear and lo and behold all you’ll see is big fat puffy white ones full of peace and joy. Which has been there all along waiting for you. Waiting for you to quit trying to ‘fix’ something that isn’t broke! 🙂
The clouds are such a good analogy aren’t they? I remember the first time I realized that the sun is always shining behind them.The clouds are so dark it’s hard to imagine. It’s as if a new sky came down and replaced the old on. But it didn’t. Thanks som uch for saying hi!!
Thanks for the fun reminders that I am OK the way I am. I have a cool book from before the days of many think positive preachers called “I’m OK, you’re OK” – as I recall – it says similar things. Luv yr humor and the drawings 😉
I think there’s a larger perspective though – on our soul journey and purpose this life-time – which is back of some negative thoughts – sure the negative thoughts are ‘OK’ to have and just allow them – but also ‘notice’ them and see if they may be actually there to jog your memory of your soul and what IT truly wants for you to be doing and experiencing this time around.
Also – we always have a choice. And we can choose to just have a great depression and really get into it – climb under the bed-sheets, not cook proper meals for a few days and really indulge in the depression. (probably easier when you live alone like I have a lot 🙂 and – sure enough sooner or later, the depression passes and some new inspiration happens. A little Guarana (pure) in your tea/coffee (organic of course!) – helps…:-) I thinj of it as my daily Guru-ana….
I vaguely remember that book. I don’t know that I ever read it, but I’ve heard of the title. Will keep my eye out for it. And yes, to the larger perspective. For me, sometimes it has clearly been the larger perspective at work and other times it feels more like a side effect of a hormonal imbalance or something. I used to try and figure out which one it was. Tho I do that less now. Anyway. Thanks for saying hi!! Sounds like you’re found some peace within it. Which is what it’s all about i reckon. (Love the Guru-ana!)
This is probably my favourite of your articles so far, Lisa! So so so relatable! (When I feel down and walk around in public, I see everyone’s facial features as exaggerated and most people look like 1920s ‘Carnie’ folk. Weird.) I love that you mentioned the brain making little changes when we take so much of our focus of it. A quote that I often remember (from “Postcards from the edge” – Go Meryl!) was about how we can have a realisation and expect it to change our lives immediately – but sometimes it takes days, weeks, months to solidify and become part of how we see the world.
P.s. The illustrations where the brain made an appearance had me laughing out loud! Such a character.
Ooh, that’s interesting about people looking like “1920’s Carnie folk.” Aren’t our brains funny. It makes sense tho—another exaggeration—like what I feel. I’m going to look more closely next time it happens! (Anyone else want to weight in with their experience??) And gosh I love that movie quote:-)
Your wonderfully simple and wise words sre so very helpful. Thank you so much.
You’re so welcome, Suzanne. Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to write and say hi!
, FINALY someone who’s mind works like mine!! Thanks so much Lisa, life is so much easier now that I just let things be as they are!!
Ha ha! Yes, your mind is not alone! Nice to hear from you:-)
Very well written…simple facts and brilliantly put. Thanks for wording it. Remember to remember these things…so a timely one for me.
Also made me crack up on the second last one – I did it! Rowed around the world…SOLO…record time… will my parents approve of me now?
My pleasure, Bhakti! It is a funny idea about the rower isn’t it. But so true. I’ve done it too. Not row around the world. But looked for approval as an adult. Ugh. Do you know what helped me the most … their disapproval. Was super painful at first, and then I started to genuinely not need it so much. Ha ha. Thanks for saying hi! have a good week.
Lisa, you are wonderful. I’m reading, smiling and even laughing from the deep of my heart, because what you are saying is light, right and funny in the same time. A delicious mix. It also feels so good to know that we are not alone, that others are finding it difficult to be all the time ok and positive, and that you’re going beyond that and questioning it. I love all your thoughts and artistic drawing. You rock!
Omar, your big fan from Tunisia
Hey Omar in Tunisia! (I have just looked on a map to see where that is—my geography isn’t very good—and I see that you’re very close to Sicily, where my husband’s family is from.) Thanks for saying hi. Isn’t the internet amazing the way we can all meet up like this. Thank you Internet! And thanks for your kind words, Omar! I really appreciate it.
Lisa, thank you! I’m one of those “be positive” types who hasn’t been giving off much positively lately. Thank you for reminding us that this is ok, too. Sometimes we’ve just got to “be!”
Ha, yes, totally OK! I was one of those “be positive” types too for many years. I was also a “yes I’ll do anything anyone asks me too” girl. Exhausting! Nice to meet you, Chrissy!
I enjoy your writings. Your words help me remember that there are many perspectives to situations. The pictures of the heart and brain are awesome! They made me laugh. I like reading that our thoughts are just thoughts from our brain, not “who we are”. Thank you for the emails; they are my positive reminders:)
You’re so welcome, Karina. Thanks for the feedback re the brain drawings, that’s good to know they worked. There were lots more in the original draft but I wasn’t sure how well they worked. Maybe I will include a few more next time!
I was always one of those people that thought there was something wrong if i was not always happy. I have found peace finally by being OK with not being happy at least 50% of the time and expecting it. I think that is just part of being human. You speak it and draw that message with so much humor and grace it makes it feel normal. I look forward to your insights, your honesty and your sweet humor!
With appreciation, Wendy
Thanks Wendy. I know what you mean about being one of those people. I was too. Challenging all right. Really touched to hear you enjoyed the article. Thank you so much for saying!
I have finally gotten to the point that I don’t beat myself up for not handling things “well” when I’m not positive when things fall apart around me. I have multiple chronic illnesses and I’m often told how well I handle it and how positive I am. when I’m not so positive people think something is wrong with me. Well there isn’t. If I were positive all the time something would be wrong with me!
I can now accept my feelings and look at them non judgmentally. I can just be with them. sometimes just acknowledging them is enough. I realize that it is just an emotion and I can let it go. Sometimes I need to live with it for a while. But always I know it is simply a part if me, not all of me. I can let it go. Simply accepting it and not judging it has helped me so much. Not judging my feelings as either good or bad has been so important to me. It makes me sad that others expect me to be positive and upbeat all the time. When I mention that I’m down people simply are not there. I’ve lost so many friends since I got sick. I’m alone and isolated. If I ever mention I’m down, people disappear.
I’m fine with it, but I feel I can’t be honest with many people.
I am very open and honest on my blog. I’ve gone through the whole feeling positive part on there, and it just doesn’t work. However, I do feel you need to accept things. Accept your emotions. Accept your illness. accept things about you…but don’t judge. don’t judge your emotions as good or bad. don’t judge your illness as good or bad. make sense? from reading your book I think you send the same message.
I like what you say.
and how you say it.
Thanks so much for saying hi, Wendy=) This funny ol’ “be positive” thing is strange all right. Much peace and love to you.
I love your illustrations! Even if I couldn’t read, I would get the message and feel better. I especially like the teeter totter with mind and heart, and the watering can with I’m ok juice! You really get depression, keep up the good work, I know it helps other people as much as it does me.
I am SOOOO glad I waited til this morning to read this.
I spent Friday helping an in – law ( not really an in-law because her son & I aren’t married but have lived together for 5 years) move boxes out of a spare bedroom.
I swore after my last visit 6 months ago I would NEVER go back because she is an energy vampire & I need my positive energy
Anyway I was so disappointed that I allowed myself to get guilt tripped into helping that I spent all day Sunday with a fake sore hip trying to decide if I should end my relationship.
I read your email first thing this morning & think I will ride it out for bit.
You are awesome Lisa :):):)
Good idea on riding it out until you feel better. Bad time to make big decisions when we’re feeling super grumpy. Even though it really feels like it’s the best time to make them. Ha ha. And it sounds like a sucky day moving boxes. Never a fun job anyway in itself. My husband and I have this large storage filled with so much stuff (mostly work tools). It’s his, who am I kidding, I own about 2 suitcases worth of stuff. But as I was saying, whenever we go there I feel grumpy. I don’t really know why. Maybe dust makes me grumpy. Usually helped by chilling at a cheap taco joint and watching Spanish TV on way home.XX
Great stuff you’ve got here. I’ve read so many self help books and been to so many seminars about ‘positive thinking’. Still not any closer to the the elusive ‘mind mastery’. Your articles and book are my pick me ups. I can’t believe you’re giving it away for free! Though I can’t shake this fear of when my next downward spiral is. I’m afraid I only read your article when I’m down in the dumps :p but hey that’s what makes them super useful! Keep it going! Thanks so much!
Oh if we would like to, how do we give back to you?
Oh i saw your shop section but international delivery cost is as much as the magnets!!
Yes. It shouldn’t be though. I need to do some technical whizzy things and fix that. It’s really only a dollar within the US or $2 internationally. thanks for reminding me.
By all means just read me when you’re down in the dumps.Happy to be that blogger! (I’m like that with my “Calm Cards.” I only ever use them when I need help! That sounds way more salesy than I meant. But they’re unavailable at the moment anyway as they’re being printed). You know, your interest and support here IS giving back to me. Thank you.
Thanks for your insights into your thoughts, and the mind in general. I love this stuff. In fact, when I coach people we look at how the mind is because that’s what it is supposed to do! You remind me of what Byron Katie says! Anyway, I am going to send my clients a link to your blog, because it’s just what we are talking about in the workshop I’m giving!! And I agree with Susie, your illustrations are priceless.
Hi Pam! Well, firstly thank you for sharing my blog with your clients. And for saying nice things about my drawings. I haven’t read much Byron Katie, but the one book I did read, I thought, oh, it’s the same sort of stuff. Really nice to connect=)
“For instance, I have no idea if reading my articles is helpful for you.” Well, after reading several of the replies (above) I’d say you must have some idea now. I think many of us feel you are talking directly to us because you know us so well. BTW I have many size 10 footwear options to offer, just no red boots…sorry. ; )
Hi Debbie/fellow size 10–er! I’m pleased that you feel like I’m talking directly to you. Maybe it’s because I’m also talking to myself a lot of the time. As in, I think about this stuff because I need it too. I am, as Marc, so awesomely put it below, a “beautiful complicated mess of a human being.” I reckon we all are.
I love Marc’s line: “Have whatever kind of day you feel like having today” would LOVE to wear that on a T-Shirt.
BTW Bravo on the slide show.
I agree—what a great t-shirt—Marc, any plans re production? Nice to hear from you Debbie. And thanks, re the slideshow.
Lisa, you beautiful complicated mess of a human being. Thank you for this. I have been a positive thinking, daily affirmation junky for years. Sometimes it’s effective, other times, it’s more like a chore. You’ve opened my eyes to many things with this blog. I’m OK. I’m normal. I’m human. It’s all relative. Sure, I could drive off the cliff with a simple turn of the wheel. Who hasn’t had that though at one point? So what, it’s just a fleeting though. You’re the best. Have whatever kind of day you feel like having today. It’s all good. 🙂
Hi Marc! Ha ha. … a beautiful complicated mess of a human being. What a fantastic phrase. Thanks for being here Marc, you beautiful human being, you.
I re-read this post, and I laughed again. But something stuck out to me this time. The driving off the road part. You say it’s just the mind being a mind. I agree with that. But I feel it goes even deeper (I mean, the mind does some funny things, at least mine). To let you know, sometimes I kill ants and spiders. Sometimes spiders seem quite scary (too bright or too knoby). But at times even that makes me feel bad, and I try to take them to other place (spiders) or just send them flying (usually nothing happens to poor ants). I have even tried to drown an ant, and then I feel remorse and let her walk free. But (here comes the good part) sometimes I imagine killing people. It’s not that I want to, even that I think myself capable. It’s just, for example, that I notice I have a dangerous object in hand, like a big knife (me chopping food) and it just crosses my mind that if I became mometarily mad and lost control of myself (sort of possessed, I don’t even believe in that), I could damage someone else. I mean, I couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t even want to. But I’m scared because my mind just gets this image of the strange possibilities, and I think (but I would never do that, and it’s kind of my mind saying: ohh, sorry. I got carried away… Just don’t leave me unattended). And I’m not even mad at anyone.
I feel it’s kind of like the driving off the road thing. I mean, you don’t even have to be depressed to think about it (though maybe you get depressed at your silly mind), your mind is just telling you the options, and then, as it’s being silly, thinks about the undies you’re wearing and how that would not be nice.
I don’t think its real. It just seems like the mind wants to be useful and lets you know of everything it can think of.
And I’m scared of walking around with a knife (it has to get from the sink to the table, doesn’t it), because my mind just lets me know what would happen if I were to trip (on myself) or someone were to trip on me (always carry the knife facing down, my mom said).
Well, and I also get the feeling I could die any time (well, we all can, we all will). But if I feel my feet slipping on a staircase, I get the image of me on the bottom. Or I imagine falling down on a banana and hitting myself in the head.
Mind you, the good thing is that my imagination does not have a lot of detail, so it can be funny. If I had a detailed imagination, maybe those strange episodes would be scarier.
But point is, I do think my mind is a bit silly sometimes, and let’s you know of the thing you could do (just for the silliness of it).
I hope you understand. (You do seem to be very understanding) but I mean, I hope you understand this as a mind being a mind, telling you things you don’t want to know and you don’t even want to think. That’s why even the driving off the road thing seems silly to me. And by the way, it might even be a safety mechanism to let you know you have to pay attention to dangerous things you do (like having a weapon in your hands, or driving a car). It’s just maybe a bit humorous, for which I think we should be grateful 🙂
Bye. And the thank you for everything. For replying to everyone and for writing such profound and lighhearting (makes your heart light) texts, all with images.
My mind does that thing with knives too. I wish it wouldn’t – I’m always like, really, you’re going there. But it does. So yes, you guessed right, I do understand that one too! We both have ‘silly at times” minds. Thank you so much for saying hi! Such an honor to have people read this articles and then take time to say hi. Thank YOU!
Thanx Lisa for another wonderful and Enlightening read .. Ur perspective resonates and u have a great way of helping us all to feel “ok”
You’re very welcome, Carol. Thanks so much for being here:-)
Great part 2! These are such great reminders for me… I really do love getting your emails and the chance to read your new stuff!
Oh good that you enjoyed it! I’ve got a bunch of new work in the pipeline so hopefully will have some more new things out soon=) Thanks for taking the time to say hi!! I really do enjoy it.
I keep a quote on my computer desktop by Tara Brach that reads “There is something wonderfully bold and liberating to saying yes to our imperfect and messy life.” (If you don’t know of Tara, I think you might like the way she thinks.) This post reminded me to remember that concept more often.
Ooh, that is nice. I haven’t heard of Tara. Thanks for the tip. It’s kind of like Marc said above, “You beautiful complicated mess of a human being.” That’s all of us, I reckon!
Your articles are so relatable and they are something I will try to remember to read at a later stage as needed, such as those times when my mind decides to wander down that negative path… So I have now created a Lisa folder for your emails, I hope you understand the enormity of this compliment, as ‘Eckhart’ is the only other writer who has his own folder in my email list.
Thanks for your honesty and humour,
You’re so welcome, Lee. And thank you so much for your email. Ticked I am! I use email folders for some of my favorite writers too—a great honor to think there’s a “Lisa” folder in your inbox=)
I totally relate to all of your crazy thoughts. I’ve wondered if others have them, too, but we just don’t talk about them. Thanks for sharing that with us. I’m wondering about #4, though. What about people who decide what’s right for them is destructive like get high, get drunk or cut themselves? Shouldn’t there be some sort of disclaimer or guidance about that?
My pleasure. Re your question, think of it like this … the article is not for “others” it’s for you. What I mean by this is that you don’t need to worry about what’s best for other people, just you. Tapping into YOUR wisdom and guidance. Thinking about others just gets us caught up in knots. And honestly, it’s a bit controlling. Not to mention judgmental. We are capable or deciding what we want to do, just as other people are. Does that help? It is such a great question, Karla. Thank you so much for asking. I really appreciate it!! Love and hot chocolate blessings to you!
I like the fact that you are warm, witty, erudite and deeply honest .
And you draw beautifully .
The combination is always so pleasing to me .
And thought provoking -even if the thought is umm -stop thinking..
I am beginning to understand that connections are wonderful -and that disconnections are empowering .
And that all of my life I have been afraid of being alone . By myself . Just me.
It’s why I was scared of the dark .. And scary movies .
Now I realise that me is a pretty good companion . And very reliable ( if outspoken)
Thank you for all sorts
Hi Jen! Thanks so much for your note. Yes being alone can be wonderful. Once you get used to it, it can become nourishing. Happy New Year. And happy exploring=)
I feel like you can read my mind. If I could stop worrying I would, but of course I can’t. The search for happiness could drive me crazy, but it won’t. I wouldn’t choose to bannish all negative thoughts because if they were all positive, I wouldn’t realize it, would I?
Keep writing, blogging or whatever!
I know. Imagine if we could stop worrying! But then again, like you point out with “positive/negative” thoughts, would we actually want to. Thanks so much for your note. I really appreciate it:)
I just bumped into you blog a few weeks ago, so it was a real treat to see this today, for the first time.
So nice to know that I’m not the only one in this boat, and that i9t’s all OK — no matter what boat that may be.
Ain’t that the truth. And nice to meet you, Judy. Sorry for the delay in responding. I missed this comment when it came through! Hope to see you here again!
Thank you for saving me. You helped me learn how to love myself.
I’m really touched to hear that. Thank you for saying hi:)
Hi Lisa, I have just ‘stumbled’ across you after googling what to do about my negative thoughts.. What a refreshing approach you take! I am so glad I stopped to read. I have forwarded a link to my daughter as I think your comments will really mean something to her too. Thank you so much for being out there. No meditation necessary, no feeling guilty because I don’t feel like I’m gushing with positivity , I can just get on with being. Xxx have a great day 🙂
Glad you enjoyed it!
reading this post gave me so much relief and right at a time where I needed it most – thank you!
I loved the humor in it and the message: It’s ok to feel what I feel. And it’s ok to do what feels right to ME.
I’m so happy that I’ve stumbled upon your blog and I’m looking forward to reading more.
Greetings from Germany
Thanks Michaela:) Greetings to you in Germany!
I am the “Elmer Gantry” for contentment in my family. I didn’t grow up until my late forties and by then I had aquired a fairly poor opinion of my life. I felt the Right-to-persuit-happiness meant to be happy or to be a failure. Well, drop a few bad habits and………Now as my sixties slide away I tell folks, those who are consistantly happy scare me a bit. But those who are mostly content are enviable. I truly hope you put your works into book form.
Thanks so much for your beautiful comment. I’ll take contentment over happiness any day as well! Just finishing up a book this weekend as it happens! (It’ll be out next year).
Brilliant reading!I am currently trying to recover from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia and my thought processes resemble a rubbish tip on a windy day! So good to know it’s ok to admit it’s just bloody hard sometimes and l am still an ok person.Thanks heaps xxx
Hi Jules! Thanks for your note—and one of the best descriptions of our mind I’ve heard! Also nice hearing “rubbish tip” – guessing you’re down under?? Pleased you enjoyed the article. I often think of CFS as a spiritual boot-camp. Tough, but ultimately rewarding. You are soooo an OK person. I’d even go so far as to say an awesome person! Lots and lots of love, Lisa XX
I love you Lisa Eslie! You make me laugh and tell it like it is. I also have CFS and for the past four years have been trying to get rid of negative thoughts believing they were causing my illness. I was told this through a couple of treatments I had. After reading your stuff though I know it’s not true. I’m normal whatever that is but my mind is just like yours and everyone else’s. I don’t need to be watching every thought I have and trying to stop it. I can relax now and let that all go. I love your stuff. Keep up the good work. You make me feel happy. Xxx
Yay!! You are so normal all right! I know that people mean well when they advise us to think positive, but oy. It’s really the wrong way to go about it. I am happy to report that I had negative thoughts before I had CFS, during CFS, and I still have them! Thanks so much for saying hi. Lots of love and hugs, L. XX
Thanks for your reply Lisa. I never knew you had cfs! Have you any tips for recovery you could email me please? I’ve been ill for four years and it’s pretty tough. Mostly housebound. The treatments I’ve had were to shout STOP every time I had a cfs thought as I was led to believe the thought popping up was causing the illness and it was all because of my brain thinking about it. No wonder I feel so anxious and stressed. It’s just since discovering your work that I’m realising how crazy all that is. Would be great if you had some advice for me. Thank you so much. ANNE.
Ha, I just assumed you did. I guess I don’t talk about it too often but it pops up every now and again. It is tough isn’t it. I was mostly housebound for about that same amount of time. I can’t think of how to answer your question re advice succinctly here … it’s a big one. Being easy on yourself is a good start – and starting with not feeling bad for whatever kind of thoughts you have is a great idea. That would make you feel awfully anxious and stressed. It’s not like we can control what pops into our mind.
As far as health treatments – it seems like everyone is different as to what works. I tried so many different ones. Naturopaths worked well for me. Gentleness was also key – people often talk about detoxing etc but this was often too harsh. One woman who helped a lot was a biochemist who treats using natural remedies. She told me there were a couple of enzymes that people with CFS don’t have and she gave me some supplements to mimic them, and gradually I got stronger. Her name is Dr Tarlton Fraser.
Oh, and adrenals – that was a huge help. Most people with CFS have adrenal fatigue – have a look online and see if the symptoms match. It’s not a cause of CFS but it’s an uncomfortable side effect, and since our adrenal glands are so important and affect so many body systems it can make a huge difference. It took me years to realize I had adrenal fatigue, but when I got onto it it made life a lot more pleasurable. Anxious racey thinking is a sign that your adrenals are overworked.
And remember, that people recover. It can feel hopeless and like it’s going on forever. But I always liked being reminded that people recover.
Of course … I should add that I’m not a physician or natural therapist of any kind. These are just some ideas of things that worked for me.
This feels inadequate! Feel free to email me if you like. email@example.com