“Changing the destructive things you say to yourself when you experience the setbacks that life deals all of us is the central skill of optimism.” –Dr. Martin Seligman, former President of The American Psychological Association and the founding father of Positive Psychology.
I felt my heart ripped out of my chest and my world turned upside after the divorce. At the time, a close friend advised, “Positive thinking, Amelie – it’s what will get you through this.”
I nodded. While I loved her care and best intentions, I wanted to scream, “Are you kidding me?! Haven’t you ever lost love in your life? Don’t you understand your advice to think positively is an impossible mission?”
You may have friends and family that mean well, but give you the advice to embrace positive thinking. The problem is that our mind has a tendency to play a soundtrack of repeating negative thoughts after a break up. The recurring negativity may sound something like this:
“I’m going to be alone forever.”
“I must be doing something wrong – this keeps happening.”
“I’m never going to feel that way again.”
Canceling out these negative thoughts and replacing them with positive ones is not an easy task; however, as your friends, family, and even inner self recognizes, the practice of positive thinking will help you take a tremendous step on the path towards healing.
So, how do you do it?
Forget positive thinking for a moment and focus instead on what I call positive speaking. The story you tell yourself and the world – the power of these words – has an incredible impact on your emotional state. So, change your story. Replace your negativity with positivity. Wait, isn’t this the same thing as positive thinking? No! Wait, am I asking you to say things you actually don’t believe? No! Let me give you an example.
After your break up, you may be saying to yourself and others, “I’m never going to get over this. Everything in my life is terrible.” You may feel this is a way of venting your pain; however, expressing the sentiment in such a permanent and exaggerated form is actually going to perpetuate your suffering.
I understand you may have lost the person your love, the one other person in the world that you could rely on, and the one you called your soulmate. I understand this pain, because I have been there myself. In light of this, I can tell you with confidence that you will feel better. I can tell you without a doubt, these feelings will pass. In fact, you do not just have to wait for time to go by to heal your wounds – there are actions you can take to help relieve your pain and one of them includes positive speaking.
To begin the process of positive speaking, sit quietly and listen to your inner voice. You will hear hope inside of yourself – hope to feel better and rekindle the spirit of your dreams. Please respect this hope. Your being and spirit do not truly believe that you will never heal from this break up. Do not let your pain overtake your drive for peace, hope, dreams, and to live your life once again with burning passion.
Start speaking in a more realistic, positive manner. Reevaluate your exaggerated feelings and words, and instead, start speaking about your challenges as they truly are: temporary and isolated to a particular part of your life. In changing the words you speak out loud, you will change the words you speak internally. Hence, your positive speaking will influence your internal dialogue and produce positive thinking.
Replace your original statement: “I’m never going to get over this.”
With a more positive statement: “My pain is temporary and there is hope for the future.”
Replace your original statement: “Everything in my life is terrible.”
With a more realistic statement: “This break up is a huge challenge in my life, but I am grateful for my children [or insert something for which you are still grateful].”
Do you engage in negative thinking that could be flipped to positive speaking? Share your thoughts below.
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Source & Inspiration for this article: Seligman, Martin E. P. Learned optimism / Martin E.P. Seligman ; Random House Australia, Milsons Point, N.S.W. : 1992