Productive thinking…way more helpful than positive thinking!

There have been a couple of events recently that created a few ripples in my life, and unsettled my thinking. I felt as if I had been sucked back in time to a not so good place, and I felt myself sinking.

However, my conscious awareness was enough to keep my head above the water, and I paddled furiously until I could feel solid ground beneath my feet again. You see, I have worked hard, for a very long time, to develop my thinking, so that it works for me and not against me. And the sudden ripples that came along to rock my boat gave me an opportunity to test my life – sailing skills….would I wrestle with the helm and get back on course, or be capsized? Well, I’m still afloat, and still heading towards my chosen destination, which shows that my efforts have been worth it, and I have genuinely learned something!

(c) National Maritime Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

However, the journey continues. There will still be stormy seas ahead, in between periods of calm, and bursts of full – steam – ahead sailing. For you, as well as for me. Of course, it’s going to depend upon whether we choose to hang around the dock, or only navigate the shallow waters, or whether we head out onto the big, wide ocean. We can learn to become a first class sailor, and then the captain, of the vessel of our own life, if we are willing to weather the storms that will occasionally rise up from the depths, or descend from the heavens.

I didn’t want to sink into the “what’s the point?” mentality. I didn’t want to slip back into that place of paranoia, taking everything personally, and transmitting a repellent energy. I knew that no good could possibly come of it, and the effort I’d made over the years would have mostly been for nothing. I heard myself thinking, and I felt my body responding to my thoughts and emotions, and when I realised I had no energy…that i just wanted to curl up and ignore the world…I grabbed myself by the scruff of my own neck, kicked my own butt, and said “think again!”

And think again I did, but not positively. I thought productively. Positive thinking is easy when life is hunky dory, when things aren’t too bad. Positive thinking is almost impossible when it feels as if the bottom has dropped out of your world, or that a giant sized poop has been deposited upon it. At such times positive thinking feels feigned, strained, false even. Productive thinking, on the other hand, offers the potential for solutions, and of a sense of control. It doesn’t remove the problem, or instantly fix it, but it does act as leveller, and gives a bit of breathing space, the chance to keep things in perspective. And let’s face it, when we are emotionally and mentally upset, one of the first things to abandon ship is perspective.


So, what does productive thinking sound like? I will try and explain.

I said earlier that I felt I had been sucked back in time, but of course I hadn’t been, in the real, physical sense. It was my mind that was re – living parts of the past I would definitely never want to return to, and it was my mind that produced a set of emotions that really upset and unsettled me. These emotions led me to an action that may or may not be entirely helpful, and complicated the situation. However, it gave me an opportunity to ask myself a very important question: “What can I do with these memories? They have obviously been occupying a particular place in my inner world, but have now been rooted out and disturbed. They cannot simply be pushed back into the same old corner, so what do I intend to do with them?”

I knew that they weren’t simply going away, and I knew that I could choose to allow them to disempower me….or I could consciously choose to face them anew, and find a more relevant place in my life for them. I couldn’t just hope that they’d vanish, allowing me to return to the way I was a few days ago, and I knew I didn’t want that.  What would be the point? Life was obviously attempting to give me an opportunity to lessen the load, to tidy it up a bit, and make it easier to transport.

And there is something else. My current life is built upon my past, and the way in which I used to respond to things. What better than one of the darkest times of my life to test how far I have progressed? What actually happened mattered less than how I responded when I was faced with the memory and the feeling of it, in the here and now. As I am typing this, I suddenly realise that maybe unconsciously I felt I needed to revisit this experience as part of my ongoing development and growth. Maybe it was always going to surface, at the most appropriate time and place, because I myself, again unconsciously, had placed it on the agenda. Maybe it takes a real tough soul to be willing to face her sea – monsters every now and then along the way, until they become weakened enough to be conquered! And if I can deal with this, and make sense of it, the everyday stuff pales in comparison, becoming so much more manageable. And the big goals seem less intimidating, and more easily achievable!

I suppose that positive thinking is to productive thinking what reacting is to responding. They are at opposite ends of the their spectrum, and both can serve a purpose….but one comes from the need to survive, and the other from the desire to survive AND flourish! My work, and my life, has become about the latter, and what is good for me is good for my customers!#positivethinkingisn’tenough  






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