Why ‘Healthy Coping’ Is Better for Our Health Than Positive Thinking

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By Mary Mattio in The Mighty.

 

“Keep thinking positively!”

“Keep your chin up!”

“Stay strong!”

These are some of the most common cliché responses we hear from people in society on a regular basis. They aren’t incorrect responses, and are often made with the best of intentions. However, when the people telling us to “think positively” actually believe this is truly how we handle the horrible pain, illness, and crushing losses that accompany long-term illness, then this type of encouragement can have a negative fallout.

When I was diagnosed with chronic illness, I was more terrified than I ever have been. My treatments were only failing, and my life no longer seemed like my own, but instead belonged to this foreign illness taking it over. My close friends and doctors would remind me, “You’re the most positive person I know,” or “Keep thinking optimistically,” as their main sources of inspiration. Were those words uplifting over time? No, not really.

In the end, this attempt at encouragement can further add to feelings of isolation, making us feel deflated, even invalidated.

So why doesn’t reminding us to stay positive empower us to become more positive, hopeful, and optimistic?

Would you say, “Suck it up,” to a friend who is grieving over the loss of a parent? I certainly hope not. Essentially, this is the same idea surrounding the “positive thinking” movement. The more we “hurry up and get over it,” the better off we’ll be for projecting a positive attitude, and the stronger we are for it in the long run.

Unfortunately, our bodies work exactly the opposite of this construct.

 

To read the rest of this story, click on the link below:

 

Link to Chronic Illness story

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