When You Can’t Think Positively

Sometimes the suggestion to be cheery is just annoying.

There are times when you try as hard as you can, but you just can't think positively. You see people making lists of things they're grateful for. You hear that, especially when you're going through depression or heavy self-criticism, thinking positive thoughts instead will help. Saying nice things to yourself will help you feel better. Repeating affirmations in the mirror will help too. Ok, that's nice. But how does any of this help when the problem is literally that you can't think positively?!

That's a very valid issue and a very real obstacle. It's exhausting. It's frustrating. It might make you question your worth when people are giving you what sounds like simple and basic advice, but you can't make it happen. You try, but it's hard and it doesn't work very well and then your next thought is "what's wrong with me that I can't even do this?" Take a couple breaths. If this is you, I have a small tweak to affirmations and positive thinking that just might help.

Sarcasm counts.

That's right. When it's hard to even think positively to begin with, sarcasm in the right direction counts. Weird and absurd statements do too. The stranger and the more offbeat, the better. Maybe your friend's affirmation and positive thinking list looks something like:

  • I am strong.
  • I am a great person.
  • I'm grateful for the roof over my head.
  • I'm grateful for autumn and crunchy leaves.
  • I am worthy of love.
  • I will be successful.

If those were hard to read, especially without feeling more frustrated or annoyed, there's no reason your list can't look like:

  • If I'm about as strong as pudding, as least pudding is tasty.
  • Well, I didn't murder anyone today.
  • At least a cow didn't fall on me today.
  • Well, my legs didn't fall off this week.
  • I feel like I'm a trash fire, but at least that means I'm warm.
  • I can't fail literally all of the time.

Did you laugh? Smile? Chuckle a little bit? A small smirk? That's a great place to start. Let yourself take the pieces of a win and keep moving. While the goal is, of course, to be able to move into more positivity and kindness toward yourself, sarcasm can be a great start when the whole thing seems too much. Give it a try! And whether you need some help with this or are ready to move to the next part for yourself, I'm here to help. Let's schedule a time to talk.

Stephanie Bloodworth, LMFT-A