Teen Space

What positive thinking can do for you

Illustration of human head with butterfly as mind
Photo: © Matju / 123RF Stock Photo

Negativities are part of the valency of life. When terror struck Mumbai at The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in November 2008, for a long time there was fear about visiting hotels. We knew that safety measures were in place and we were aware that authorities were at the forefront of security. Yet we retained the memory of the pain and the loss. And that made us cautious, alert and often restrained.

This is an example of a typical reaction to life’s negative events. And, of course, in this case is warranted and rational. Just like worrying about tigers when you’re camping in the jungle, or fearing landslides during Himalayan mountain hikes. In these situations you run for your life because right then, nothing else matters. The adrenaline is rushing and your body is on high alert. You are anticipating the absolute worst. And you are determined to escape it.

But what do you think about these everyday pessimisms?

  • My friends will not like me.
  • My examiner will be mean.
  • My teacher will punish me.
  • My mom will not believe me.
  • I will not make it in time.
  • I will stay this fat forever.
  • I will fumble in my speech.
  • I won’t be able to perform.
  • Nothing ever works my way.
  • There is no point in trying.

We programme our brains to respond to every situation like it is a catastrophe. And hence we become so cautious and weary that we omit attempting the task completely. We become distrustful of the world and its intentions, narrow our minds and limit our own options and opportunities. Because we start to think negative. And this negativity consumes us.

Think about this.

  • When you are sad, you fail to acknowledge how much your friends care.
  • When you are nervous, you don’t realise that the examiner will be fair.
  • When you are unprepared, you think the teacher will pick just on you.
  • When you are upset, you forget how much your parents love and trust you.
  • When you are panicky, you overlook the shortcut on the side of the road.
  • When you are guilty of not exercising, you lower your motivation further.
  • When you’re anxious you make yourself flounder in the speech you knew.
  • When overcome with worry, you tremble and worsen your performance.
  • If you believe you’ll fail, you make an unreasonable choice to ‘not try’.

In all of these situations, the underlying denominator is a negative thought. A confirmed belief that things will not work out the way we would like them to, and the resultant lack of will-power and motivation to even make an attempt. A narrowed vision limited choices and preparation for failure.

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Dr Shefali Batra is a Psychiatrist and Mindfulness Coach. Connect with her on Instagram @drshefalibatra and read more about her work at drshefalibatra.com.

Dr Shefali Batra

Dr Shefali Batra is a Psychiatrist and Mindfulness Coach. Connect with her on Instagram @drshefalibatra and read more about her work at drshefalibatra.com.