Well, this is embarrassing!
I came across 2 new pieces of research this week. The first said that trees are good for us. The second said that positive thinking is bad for us. My inital reaction? “Oh heck, my whole life and business is based on positive thinking, what do I do now?”
Oh, I see!
But then I read more. It turns out the research found that blocking very strong emotions and pretending everything is ok is really bad for your emotional health. No kidding Sherlock! Since when did positive thinking suggest we ignore what’s going on in the real world?! So it’s ok really then?
Is it always ok to cry, shout, poo?
Well, hang on a minute. Do you pretend you’re ok when you’re not? I’ve been feeling rather poorly with a chesty cough for a couple of weeks now but I’ve turned up to deliver speeches and workshops with energy and a smile. And what about those times you feel upset but you choose not to cry in front of particular people in a particular place? Dare I also mention that tricky issue of when to have a poo? Even though your body needs to go (and the lovely digestion expert Linda Booth at Just for Tummies would say ‘drop the poo taboo and go when you need to’) you might choose to wait til you get home.
There are definitely times when we choose to ignore how we really feel. Maybe we’re embarrassed, nervous, trying to be professional or for whatever reason, we shut off what’s really going on for us, so that’s normal, right?
Ok, what’s the secret?
Pretending to be ok could be the secret to social acceptance, a good career, avoiding embarrassment, all kinds of things…
But here’s the secret to a happy life: Get real as soon as you can once you’re out of that situation!
Putting on an act, looking ok, sounding positive might be the best thing right then in that moment. Then we step out of work or we arrive home or we’re on the phone to someone we trust and we need to let our honest feelings out.
It’s not about denying (or hiding)
Positive thinking isn’t about hiding the truth or denying you’re feeling grief, hurt, loss, fear or pain. It’s noticing how we feel initially then knowing that what happens to us doesn’t define us. That once you recognise how you feel the next stage is working out what you need to do with that and not wearing it as a badge, a shroud, a label or a permenant fixture. In the words of Martin Sheen as the President of the USA in the West Wing used to say after a major incident had been resolved:
You are precious
You are too precious to ignore how life makes you feel.
You are also too precious to be defined by any of the challenges life throws at you.
Two things are true here: You have a right to feel your feelings and secondly that you deserve to be able to move on from those feelings and see a new day coming. Positive thinking is about finding freedom for yourself, despite the things that happen, despite the curve balls life throws at you.
The new research was saying what we knew all along; that we need to acknowledge the tough stuff and then remember we’re tougher than that and move on.
Oh, and those trees?
Trees are good things to spend time with! At least, now they can prove it in a lab, it might mean we take more notice of it and get out and about with those amazing oxygen producing magical things. Turns out more time with the trees could help us recover quicker from the tough stuff.
I hope you get enough tree time this week, out and about in nature, and that if you have the need to put on a brave face, you get to let go and recover just as soon as you can.
With lots of tall willowy and short stocky tree love to you,