When you see a ‘Wet Paint’ sign, why is it so difficult to avoid reaching out to touch whatever it is you’re not supposed to? And why does a ‘Keep Off The Grass’ notice make you want to do the exact opposite? There’s something about rules such as these which seem to make us want to break them.
I mention this because I think something similar can happen if you’re feeling down in the dumps and someone suggests that you should ‘take a positive approach’. Yes, yes, yes… You know it would make sense, but following such advice probably feels like the last thing you’d be able to do.
It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Rather than approaching your day with a negative mindset, simply decide to put a smile on your face and go about things without a care in the world.
Although this makes a degree of sense, it’s likely to feel utterly impossible. I’d be inclined to tell whoever suggested it: ‘Do you honestly think I’d actively choose to feel like this if it was even remotely possible that I could snap out of it? Do you seriously believe that I could simply decide to feel differently, and do it?’. I suspect I might then go on to tell this do-gooder where to stick their positive approach.
And yet, and yet, I would of course know that if only I could just change my attitude the teeniest amount, it could just make a difference.
The trick? If there is one, perhaps it’s to twist the admonition around, treating it like the ‘Keep off the grass’ notice, and turning it into a self-suggestion that it would be sensible to ‘keep off the negative outlook’, or at least to avoid making it a permanent part of your day.
On days when adopting a positive approach seems impossible, you may be able to aim for a neutral one, and this will almost certainly make things a little better.