How Positive Thinking Can Be a Crock

On a path to clearer views, I find myself looking up and realizing that life is nothing more than an illusion of what my mind (ego) tells me it is.

I am baffled by people who are always up-beat and positive; who love life even when things are tough; who see the good in even the most painful events.

I am writing this post and my husband, who is in the other room, just started taping up some boxes he needs to mail. Now, all I can pay attention to is the god-awful screeching sound of the tape being pulled from the tape-gun as he wraps it around the damn boxes! Like nails on a chalk board, I tell ya!

ok, I think he is finished. Like I was saying, my reality is nothing more than what my mind tells me it is. Let’s look at my outburst about the tape-gun just seconds ago. My thoughts went something like this: “Well, that made you lose your concentration which is extremely annoying! When is he going to stop doing that? I want to write and cannot with all of that racket going on!”

*uck – he’s at it again. I’ll be back…

ok, now I know he is finished because this time when the silence returned, instead of continuing to write this post I asked him nicely if he was done using the tape-gun and he said, yes. Now, I don’t have to worry about being interrupted and startled by that horribly loud sound.

One of the disadvantages of being a highly sensitive person is that what may be an average stimulus to most people is an overpowering stimulus to me. I am particular sensitive to noises. My sensory system gets overloaded if I am around too many people for too long, if the TV is too loud, if the kids have friends over playing, when car commercials come on the radio (I have to keep from going ballistic until I can turn it off), when people come in and out of the house repeatedly, when kids are outside playing loudly or a dog continuously barks… I just can’t seem to filter these things into the periphery of my awareness. Instead they dance obnoxiously in front of my face until I feel like I am going mad. Can anyone relate to that?

I am also extremely sensitive to temperature changes, bright lights, and odd smells, like when the dog needs a bath or the hamster cage needs to be cleaned. Maybe the smells are just a mom-thing, but while these noises, tactile sensations, sights, and smells are noxious to me, no one else seems to even notice them. And by noxious I mean that I get highly agitated and sometimes feel physically ill because of them.

Well, this post turned from how my mind decides what my reality is to how my sensory system is highly sensitive.

There is a fine line between what we can and cannot control. In my experience, mental illness is a biochemical phenomenon that cannot be entirely relieved by positive thinking because a large part of the illness involves the inability to control my thoughts.

Thus, “thinking positive,” “being grateful,” “pulling myself up by my bootstraps,” “getting over myself,” and other such platitudes are often ineffective. For me, until medication rearranges my brain chemicals, cognitive behavior techniques are useless. Honestly, for me, they don’t even work that well when I am properly medicated.

What works for me is getting out of my head completely. Excessive thinking is like poison for me which is why I have cut way back on my blog posts. I love reading other people’s writings, listening to positive speakers share their experiences, and creating fine art because the voices in my own head go away during these times – times in which I am completely in the present moment, not thinking about the past or wondering about the future, but experiencing exactly what is going on in the moment – as it is with no judgment of it being “good” or “bad” or otherwise, but just noticing and experiencing.

I did this with the tape-gun incident the second time around. I stopped writing, closed my eyes, stopped thinking and just listened to the sound. To my surprise, my agitation subsided.

Acceptance is the key to relieving most, if not all, of my suffering. Acceptance is the key that unlocks the door to inner peace within me no matter what is going on around me.

Now, if the TV was on, the kids were fighting, and the dirty dog was lying at my feet at the same time my husband started taping up those boxes, I am sure I would not have been able to do this. But, I believe with practice, someday I will be capable of it.

How’s that for positive thinking? 😉

photo source

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33 thoughts on “How Positive Thinking Can Be a Crock

  1. That’s the exact positive thinking that we need actually! 🙂 I relate to a lot of this. I’ve chosen to try and live my life as “right-brain” and dharmic as possible. Fortunately or unfortunately I know what type of environment works for me, and do thrive with the right setting. I totally relate to so much of this. I despise the loud TV and commercials make me existentially SICK haha Yeh the whole “bootstraps” thing is so naive really, although I know sometimes people just try abut don’t know how to be supportive. Nice post, and GOOD JOB! 🙂

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  2. I can completely relate to all of the examples you mentioned about making you crazy. I get crazy over those things and feel like destroying whatever is the culprit. But I still think that being and thinking as positive as I can does help when I can stand it. Fake positive thinking and people make me want to vomit, but genuinely just trying to think of some positive things that are in your life can’t harm anything. It can make a difference.

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    • I agree that positivity can’t harm anything and can make a difference. The key words in your comment being “when I can stand it” and when it is done “genuinely.” I know for me that has been a struggle in my past. Not so much today, thankfully.

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  3. Thank you!

    I’ve had so many (admittedly well-meaning people) suggest exactly these sorts of things and the end result was all I did was suffer for no real reason. Until the underlying issues were sorted all the positive thinking in the world was going to accomplish exactly nothing.

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  4. My husband shares your problem with noises and smells. The hypersensitivity to noise is called “misophonia,” and here is Wikipedia’s description of it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misophonia. “Hyperosmia” is the sensitivity to smells (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperosmia). Once I learned that he wasn’t just being a pain in the butt, I developed more sensitivity to his sensitivities.

    I enjoyed your post and found you via Janice of AURORA MOREALIST.

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  5. How well you express yourself, especially that unbearable hypersensitivity – and I find hypervigilance – to the sensory and social world. Acceptance, nonjudgement of the moment. Yep, find it hard to sustain it, though. Do you?

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  6. I can totally relate about the noise thing – my flat is an oasis of silence, and I don’t even like having music of my own choice disturbing it – even though I do like music and I listen to it when outside, when it’s noisy anyway.
    Like right now they are changing the streetlights outside my windows and they have been at it since early morning and I am slowly getting ready to pour boiling oil on their heads >(

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  7. I always have my whole family – husband, kids and mother-in-law, watching TV – two different shows at the same time in different rooms, plus computers, video games, iPods, music, etc. My MIL plays games on the computer while “watching” a movie or show at the same time. AAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  8. I just happened on your blog tonight and I really like it. I have a 10 year old daughter with Aspergers syndrome who is sensitive to noise and light like you are. It is a neurological disorder on the Autism spectrum. I also really identify with “thinking too much”. That’s a hard one for me.

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  9. Pingback: 5 Tips on How to Love Yourself When You Have a Mental Illness | Write into the Light

  10. I relate to this for sure! I’m also “baffled” by people who are able to maintain a steady stream of positive thinking and emotions without a lot of effort. I have to do a lot of work (like some of the steps in your 5 Tips of How to Love Yourself) in order to get to positive thinking. I’m also an HSP…thanks for sharing your experience.

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