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? 😉



Writing Moment by Moment #26

Practicing mindfulness


Sunlight reflects off of the hood
of a black car parked
across the street.

Naked tree limbs reach up
while wheat grass flutters
in the breeze.

I inhale winter’s crisp air;
exhale steamy puffs
of my own.

I hear cars zoom by
off in the distance; inside,
the washing machine
agitates clothes.

My finger tips are chilled
as is my nose while the sweetness
from a chocolate chip cookie
lingers on my palate.

The garage is cold yet, the sunshine
on the grass and street warms me.

White clouds blanket the blue sky;
they are still
like the thoughts in my mind.


This mindfulness exercise was a result of me sitting outside for less than five minutes. I can only imagine how much I would notice if I practiced mindfulness in all of my daily activities.

Mindfulness involves a conscious effort to observe what is through your senses (i.e., eyes, ears, nose, mouth, touch) both inside and outside of your body without giving any subjective thoughts, opinions, judgements, etc. nor attaching any emotions to what you observe.

In other words, everything that you identify through your physical senses is not to be tagged with thoughts such as “That is beautiful” or “This is awful” or “That makes me feel sad” or “That is so exciting!”

Give it a try and let me know what you experience in your moment.

Writing Moment by Moment #23 and #24

#23 – A beautiful person gave me permission to accept help without feeling guilty and to take extra-special care of myself because I am “going through a healing period” which I need not minimize.  A weight lifted from me in that moment.


#24 – I think that I finally get what “mindfulness” means versus distraction.  Here’s a fun fact:

“Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density…in brain regions involved in learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking.”  ~Psychiatry Res. 2011 Jan 30;191(1):36-43. Epub  2010 Nov 10

Now, to practice it…

What moment are you grateful for today?  I had three wonderful “in the moment” moments today – the above two and a third which I posted here.

For more on “Writing Moment by Moment” click here.

Writing Moment by Moment #21

My daughter and I made cupcakes tonight. What a joy! (especially biting into one that was still warm from the oven – Yum!)

What moment are you grateful for today?

For more information on “Writing Moment by Moment” click here.

Writing Moment by Moment #20

photo by Rantes

I stepped outside this morning and inhaled the clean, cold winter air – refreshment for my soul!  What moment are you grateful for today?

For more information on “Writing Moment by Moment” click here.

Writing Moment by Moment #1

Each day for the month of January, I am going to write about one small moment for which I am grateful. If possible, I will also include photos. I am calling these posts, “Writing Moment by Moment.”

The objectives for this exercise are to increase my attention to the little things in life that I normally take for granted or might not notice otherwise. Some examples include, a small bird chirping outside of my window, my dog’s lazy yawn-and-stretch routine, the way my daughter’s hair sticks up in the morning, the smells from the kitchen when my husband is cooking a yummy dinner, and the list could go on ad infintum.

Would you like to join me and record one moment that you are grateful for each day? If a daily committment seems too overwhelming, how about once a week or month? I’ll be honest with you…I will probably miss a day here and there but I am going to do the best I can. Each day I write for a moment is better than not doing it at all.

Leave a comment and let me know what moment you are grateful for today or if you prefer, post it on your blog and then come back and leave the link to your post in the comment section so I can stop by and witness you “Writing Moment by Moment.”


Today, I spotted my journal (see photos above and below) on top of my bedside table and in that moment, I felt extremely grateful for the role writing has played in my healing process over the years.


What moment are you grateful for today?

        Do we do things we don’t want to in order to please others? When we say “no” do we often feel guilty? Martyrdom is for saints. We are not saints. We are also not bad. We are sick and we are trying to get well.

        Unless we are doing for others for “fun and for free” we are harming ourselves as well as lying to ourselves and others about our motives for helping them.

        Today, I will give freely that which I can afford to give. I will not risk my physical, emotional, or mental health by saying yes when I want to say no or by feeling guilty for making my health my top priority.

Mental illness often runs in families.  Our parent or grandparent or other relative may have had or does have a mental illness.  Some of our family members may have been diagnosed and may be getting the treatment they need to recover while others may not.

When dealing with our family, whether they have a mental illness or not, they may hinder more than help our progress because of our deep emotional ties to them and theirs to us.  While they may love us, they may not know how or be unable to help us.

         Today, I will evaluate my support system.  I will call someone who is outside of my family; someone who can offer objective, unconditional support to me and I will know peace.

“Stress is nothing more than a socially acceptable form of mental illness.”  ~ Richard Carlson

          Often our symptoms are triggered by stress.  Although, the bigger stressors aren’t usually the ones that get us.  We may actually feel better in times of crisis.  It is the little stressors that seem to befuddle us; our day-to-day activities somehow become more overwhelming than a huge crisis might be.

          Crises are often short-lived.  Anyone can do almost anything for one day.  Daily responsibilities, on the other hand, are life-long.  And when we focus on the “life-long” part, we may feel like giving up.  Yet, there is another way – to stay in today.

          Today, I will fulfill my responsibilities to myself first and next, to those around me to the best of my ability.  I will focus on my tomorrows when they become my todays and I will know peace.