Over these last few weeks of the new year, I’ve been thinking about those famous well worn words “positive mental attitude”. I hear them all the time - “You must have a positive mental attitude”; “where’s that positive mental attitude of yours?”
Well I am announcing right here right now that I’m banishing those words from my vocabulary and would encourage you, my clients, my friends and everyone else to do the same.
You may very well ask, especially since in my profession people come to see me so as to help them recover and overcome their issues and to get “that positive mental attitude”. So I’ll explain how I’ve come to this controversial decision.
When we say to someone you should have a positive mental attitudewe are actually saying to them “come on, buck up/stop feeling miserable/stop feeling sorry for yourself/it could be worse/think how lucky you really are/count your blessings etc. etc. Umm.
So I decided to check out the definition of “positive”
The Oxford Dictionary says:
Positive (adj.) (Hopeful)and “fullof hopeand confidence, or giving causefor hopeand confidence”.
Yes being full of hope and confidence is great but “full of hope” makes me think “OK I’m hopefulso I’ll tryto succeed” or “I’m hopefulso I’ll tryto lose weight; stop smoking”; give up alcohol; exercise more; and so on.
’Try’, ‘hope” and other such like words are some of the most negative in the English language. Just think about that for a moment. Those words “try”, “hopeful” etc. give us permission to fail, which is what we don’t want to do. We want and need to succeed at whatever target or goal we set ourselves. Correct? When we use these words we are actually setting ourselves up not to succeed, but fail and thereby as a consequence, resulting in us having feelings of negativity and disappointment which in turn results in stress, anxiety and worry. The total opposite of what we wish to achieve.
In future I’m going to use, what I feel is the much better, solid and achievable phrase which is going to be “A Good Mental Attitude”. You see with a Good Mental Attitude, things can be or go squiffy as things do, (because that’s the world we live in) and the end result may not be as you would like it to be. But by having a Good Mental Attitude you can handle the situation you find yourself in with a far better frame of mind which results in a more solid and stable attitude, thereby cultivating a feeling of wellbeing within you, the world and those who share your world.
A Good Mental Attitude can be sustained whereas a positive mental attitude is unsustainable. You see a good mental attitude is a way of being, having a good solid mind frame, being on an even keel. No high bars to jump over. No need to set yourself up and being “way hey; yippee” all the time. This is unsustainable. However with a good mental attitude, stress and anxiety levels will be lowered, health risks can be avoided, such reduced risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, plus lower blood pressure and the immune system will not be compromised but allowed to get on with what it’s supposed to do – keeping you healthy.
Don’t set yourself up to fail with a positive mental attitude but set yourself up to succeed in the best you can with a Good Mental Attitude.
On a last note please don’t look at what others are doing, but more importantly look at what you can and will do and achieve with your Good Mental Attitude.