I am remembering a conversation at yesterday's luncheon. The topic of positive thinking came up because one colleague, CH, mentioned that he feels negative and experiences anxiety all the time, though he tries to put on a happy face all the time. I replied saying that the negative feelings and outlook could be alleviated, and proceeded to explain my method. Later in the conversation, he said that he thought he could not change, and that religion was his only relief.
People at the lunch table laughed at CH's refusal to change. It is a denial, a refusal, which he merely frames as an impossibility. That is the very definition of negative thinking.
That is such a shame. I do understand the attitude of resistance, all the same. He has developed a system of hiding and suppressing his feelings, and is letting them fester so that they wear down his body and generate negative behaviors and situations. It is habitual, no doubt, and it would take a big effort to uproot it.
Some people can get comfortable with negativity. They may like it and miss it when it is not there. Why? --because one learns to identify with it, and it become familiar too. I also suppose that fear is a factor; one may become afraid of trying to live differently. Perhaps they fear exposing themselves, unbinding the apparatus of their self-infliction because they would feel insecure and vulnerable.
Ch is an interesting character. I have come to know him well enough to have realized before this that his growth is stunted. He presents himself as a caricature, which makes others believe that he is superficial. He also comes across as very intense. He needs company intensely, and expresses himself loudly. I have considered that there is probably anger under the surface, and have noticed it bulging from behind the curtain from time to time. Also, he can be forceful in his opinions, and not prone to listening. I have been reluctant to get close to him, although he has expressed an interest in me. It is such a shame that people put themselves in such a state and set themselves up for negative experience time after time. It is tragic how much they deny themselves the fruits of life that are easily within their grasp.
That is how he describes his life. He says that he consistently experiences misfortune, so much so that he believes in negative outcomes, while he declares he has faith in God and goodness. I don't understand that way of thinking. I only understand the penchant for viewing life negatively. I asked him if he could find positive experiences, and he said "yes" but there is always a negative one to follow a positive one. You could think about that differently and turn that equation around, so that you are focused on the positive aspects and events of life. Yet, he insists that he should anticipate the negative because anticipating the positive only brings disappointment. Wow.
After our meeting, because he had said he wanted to talk to me about my views on positive thinking, and because he felt that I could offer good counsel, I copied my pointers on living positively and sent them to him via email that very afternoon. Unfortunately, he replied with denial. Yes, he knows all that, but, but, but...Nothing works, according to him. He just relies on the Church to cope. Then he deflected my comments by trying to turn the roles around and offer me a resource to comfort me. I am not the one reporting high blood pressure, daily anxiety and depression here; it is he.