The following text is an excerpt from a conversation with Todd Goodwin, Board Certified Hypnotist at GoodwinHypnosis.com, who was interviewed by Conor Flynn, host of the Rx Podcast (DrinkRxCoffee.com), on July 30, 2018.
This sixth segment explains the problem with positive thinking.
TODD GOODWIN: Yeah, well it’s interesting, because I remember hearing some time ago, that Norman Vincent Peale, who is the author of the Power of Positive Thinking, which has sold millions of copies over the decades, supposedly admitted towards the end of his life that he long suffered from depression. And he wrote the book to cure himself. And while he went out and gave seminars about thinking positively, he would espouse all the benefits of positive thinking – how you can be positive, you can live a positive life and be prosperous and happy nearly all the time, and all these one-sided fantasies of reality, which doesn’t exist. You can’t be one-sided, and you can’t be happy all the time. You know, I’m not a positive thinker, not a negative thinker, I do both, but I try to be balanced. So he was selling with good intentions, a lot of lies with very good intentions, because he did it to help himself. And in theory, it’s supposed to help other people.
There is clinical research that shows it’s better to be an optimist than a pessimist. But it doesn’t mean you have to be one or the other, you can be balanced. What happened is people who would go to his seminars and read his book would find out, like many people who read the Secret or watched the movie, the vast majority would find out that it doesn’t work. And it’s not because the idea is necessarily completely flawed. It doesn’t mean you should be a pessimist about everything. It just means that you can’t cut away half of yourself, your natural negative side, like the south pole of a magnet, you know, every magnet has two sides, every coin has two sides, you can’t eliminate the other side.
So if someone is trying to be positive all the time, and they realize they can’t do it, and then they’re thinking, “Wow, that guy is able to do it, I must have something wrong with me. I must be broken, I must not get it because I can’t seem to get rid of my self-doubt, I can’t seem to get rid of my anger or pessimism.” They think there’s something wrong. But what’s wrong is not the person having negative thoughts. What’s wrong is the person thinking they should be able to get rid of it. He later admitted that at the end of his life, that basically, he was trying to help, but clearly it didn’t work. And the more someone tries to be positive all the time, the more negativity is going to show up in their awareness.
So the people on social media who are always promoting this fantasy, and even more than that, they know they are hypocrites, because when they post that they don’t feel that a lot of the time. Now, I’m not saying that everyone who says “I’m grateful” is lying, of course. And they may not even consciously be doing it, being dishonest, but there’s something disingenuous about being positive all the time. And on social media, usually, we see just one side, we see the new car, but we don’t hear about how the person wrecked the car out of their own fault, which is why they have a new car. They just show the new car. So if you follow social media, if you’re more of a voyeur than an exhibitionist, right, and you look at it, and you see all this positive stuff, you might begin to think that your life is kind of boring, or that your life sucks, or that you’re a loser, because everyone else has this great body, which they’ve may have photoshopped…
CONOR FLYNN: The angles, the lighting all those before and after photos
TODD: Exactly, or they might show a picture of where they’re with some famous person or doing something or talking about how successful their business is, and you don’t even know how much of that is really true. And you look at your life, which you perceive more holistically and balanced as the desirable and undesirable, positive and negative stuff, but you’re looking at only the positive in someone else. So this makes you feel by contrast, like you’re in bad shape, and you feel bad. And what do you do when you feel bad, you become more dependent on potential quick fixes. And that’s where things like addictive behaviors and chemicals and those kinds of things come in. And then the flip side on social media, which is also very unhealthy, is that some people use it as a platform for emotional support. You know when someone in their family or their dog dies.
CONOR: To reaffirm their beliefs also.
TODD: Yeah, that’s very true. And here’s the thing. It creates a dependency on it, like it’s a support group for a lot of people.
The next segment explores the risks of becoming emotionally dependent upon support groups.