I visited my mother yesterday who has been ill for a couple of weeks. When I first saw her, I felt alarmed. She looked scared; her skin was grey and she had huge dark circles under her eyes. She hadn’t wanted me to visit but when I insisted, I think that she was relieved. Toward the end of the visit, she just happened to mention that the person doing her taxes was very concerned about a large chunk of money that seemed to be missing. They found the issue a couple of weeks ago and told her that they would get back to her but she hadn’t heard anything and had not called them either.
I asked her what she had done about this and she said that she was using “positive thinking” and every time she thought about it, she got so sick to her stomach that she wasn’t thinking about it. She hadn’t really been able to eat in a couple of weeks. I realized as we talked that she had been so frightened about this tax issue, that it was compounding her illness. I asked her if she would mind if I made a call to a friend who is a CPA and then my mother herself, made a call to the tax preparers. I looked over at her talking on the phone, while I made her a quiche, and I could see the color returning to her face. She called last night to say that she was feeling much better. Nothing about the tax issue has been resolved yet but she wasn’t afraid anymore.
Positive thinking is not ignoring feelings. It is not just repeating rote affirmations over and over, while underneath feeling terror. It is acknowledging the feelings, and working to change them before we take action. I always ask myself the question, “What thought can I think right now about this situation that would make me feel better?” and then I stay with it until I actually feel the change. As I begin to feel better, either the solution (or next step for me to take) presents itself or the problem seems to dissolve. Sometimes I need to take action, sometimes I don’t, but either way, I never ignore my feelings. They are my internal compass, letting me know if I am going in the right direction.
“Success comes from taking the initiative and following up… persisting… eloquently expressing the depth of your love. What simple action could you take today to produce a new momentum toward success in your life?” Tony Robbins