I’m not talking “just think positive thoughts,” but instead I’m talking the art of Positive Psychology in regards to viewing our health and health efforts.
What do I mean exactly? Let’s look at it this way:
With a toddler who is learning first words and first steps, do you ridicule them or point out their mistakes every time they miss their mouth taking a bite, fall down with those first wobbly steps, or mispronounce their first semi-understandable word? No. We cheer them on with every single little thing they do right. We enforce, focus on, and hone in on the things they do well to encourage them to keep going and keep making progress. And we embrace their “mistakes” and love to see them try.
This is positive psychology
We’re taught to implement this with children but when it comes to adults?
We use guilt. We point out flaws and turn them into pressure points. And we have a strong tendency to focus on the negative. If we used this tactic with the child above, what would happen? They’d probably scream and cry and stop trying. They might grow up with anxiety around simple things like walking or talking.
I see this in adults too. Think about it:
If you were ridiculed verbally every time you ate something “you shouldn’t” or had a lazy day or slept in or used “too much salad dressing,” you would begin to feel anxiety, fear, and inferiority around your ability to make decisions and do simple tasks necessary for living.
The harsh reality: I see this every. single. day. with clients and people who come to me for help.
The Health and Wellness industry has stopped focusing on positivity and has resorted to scare tactics and trained us to see our flaws as inescapable realities.
But what does science say? Can we rewire this response? Is it possible to flip the narrative again? Can we encourage growth and development by focusing on positivity even in later years?
Science says: Heck-to-the-yes we can. So how do we do it?
Start small. Start internally. Refocus your eyes
Find positives about yourself like you would point them out to your best friend, daughter, coworker, husband, wife, etc. Show yourself the love and grace you would show your two year old. Then do it again. And again. And again.
People tell me I’m not “hard enough” on them when they make a mistake or don’t follow through on the plan. But here’s the thing:
We’re hard enough on ourselves as it is. You probably know where the problem lies without me focusing on it. What you actually need is someone to tell you the things you’re doing well, where your strength lies, and how to get back up again.
But your coach, friend, or loved one pointing them out isn’t enough. It has to start with us personally.
- Find five positive things about your appearance. You like the color of your eyes, that shirt is flattering on you, etc.
- Find five positive things you did this week in regards to your health. You took the stairs today, you got 10 more steps in today than yesterday, you chose to add an apple to your lunch, etc.
- Find five things to be grateful for about your life in general.