We’re told to avoid negative thinking. Thinking about what can go wrong won’t help. Actually, negative thinking can help achieve your goals. Yeah, I said it.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about positive thinking and why it frustrates me sometimes. Although I do prefer to be hopeful and positive, I know that relying on that “vibe” alone isn’t enough. Just visualize what you want and it will happen. Well, that doesn’t always work. So, I started to look into why that might be the case.

Links to what I’m wearing.

Then I heard an episode of the Happiness Lab podcast (I highly recommend this podcast- so good) that confirmed my thinking. My sister, Lissette, joined me for this episode.

“But sometimes we experience disappointing outcomes that don’t match our predictions. If we try to guide ourselves through life with positive thoughts, what happens when things don’t work out so well?”

Source: Psychology Today

Positive Thinking Has Let You Down Before

Here’s the situation, you really want a job, a successful relationship, or to do well on a project. So, you follow what you’ve heard before about being “positive”. You think “everything will just work out if I stay positive”. Sometimes it all works out exactly how you hoped it would. These outcomes reinforce your belief in the power of positive thinking. Great, right? Until…

You feel frustrated when things did not go as planned. You didn’t get what you wanted despite being full on, doubled down, UBER POSITIVE. That leads to feelings of frustration, disappointment, and, in some cases, depression.

Negative Thinking Isn’t All Bad

Here’s something you can do that might help – think about the negatives. Still have hopes and dreams while being realistic about the barriers that may arise. This is similar to what Gabrielle Oettingen, a psychology professor at New York University, coined as “Mental Contrasting”.

Mental Contrasting, therefore, is a more realistic and solution-focused thinking process where we prepare the mind to see both the good and bad and choose our actions accordingly. 

Source: Psychology Today

There It Is…

She developed a process called WOOP (I know it sounds like WHOOMP there it is… or at least it does to me). When you WOOP you:

  • Wish – You specify and imagine your wish
  • Outcome – You specify and imagine your the best outcome
  • Obstacles – Specify and imagine the obstacles
  • Plan – Developing a plan

Let’s Be Honest

Thinking about everything that can get in your way when it comes to achieving a goal does a few things. It can help you get real about the feasibility of this goal. You can ask yourself honest questions about your dream outcome. In other words, are you really going to be able to put in the work to reach a goal? Or, is this a goal that needs to broken down into smaller steps? And, is the timing right for this goal?

Dime En Español

Pensar en todas las barreras potenciales asociadas con el logro de una meta hace algunas cosas. Puede ayudarlo a ser honesto sobre la viabilidad de su objetivo. Puede hacerse preguntas honestas sobre el resultado de su sueño.

Make a Plan

Additionally, developing a plan that includes how to deal with potential obstacles resonated with me. It is similar to crisis planning or doing a fire drill. It reminds us that things happen, so let’s be ready! You know that I like to make a plan. I talked about that in a post here.

So, the next time someone gets mad at you for being a negative Nancy for bringing up potential obstacles, you can tell them – WHOOMP there it is! No, really, you can just do your own WOOP in your head and keep reaching your goals.

Don’t Mix In…because you don’t need to!

Rather listen to these posts instead of reading them? Check out the Don’t Mix In podcast. Join me as I dive into the topics from the blog. Don’t Mix In can be found on Apple Podcasts and pretty much anywhere you find your podcasts! If you are into what you hear, be sure to subscribe and leave me a review.

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