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Optimism: Positive assumptions not required

Positive assumptions, although potentially empowering, often require the ones who make those assumptions to think or act as if positive experiences will occur whether they have evidence for such optimistic expectations or not.

For many people, this is a difficult, if not psychologically impossible, leap to make.

As an alternative, I propose the following:

Rather than demanding yourself to make positive assumptions, challenge yourself to question your negative assumptions.

For instance, let’s suppose that an unpleasant experience occurred in your life. Conventional optimism would suggest you turn your negative into a positive. However, that suggestion seems to assume, or at least imply, that there actually IS a negative condition in the first place. But what would happen if we questioned THAT assumption?

How do our so-called “negative” experiences present themselves when we’re no longer applying our usual labels, opinions, and judgements to those experiences?

What happens to our “need” to be positive when we’re not busy labeling events as “negative”?

This is NOT a suggestion that you make positive assumptions, but that you temporarily refrain from making ANY assumptions at all. It’s an invitation to simply be present with what is.

This is NOT a suggestion to pretend that everything is fine even when you’re sad or upset. It’s an opportunity to see what it’s like to experience the richness of emotion without having to form an opinion about the “goodness” or “badness” of what invoked those feelings.

What are our lives capable of becoming when we release ourselves from the burden of having an opinion, including positive ones, about everything?

What are our lives capable of becoming if we spend less energy trying to make ourselves believe the things we think we ought to believe, and more energy allowing ourselves to simply not know the “right” answer or “correct” judgement?

What happens when we explore the possibilities that exists in the space between our judgments, opinions, and beliefs?

Here’s Today’s Two Cents:

Instead of forcing yourself to believe that you’re an amazing person, try questioning the assumption that something is wrong with you.

Instead of forcing yourself to believe that life is great, try questioning the assumption that life is screwed up.

Instead of forcing yourself to believe that your plans are going to work, try questioning the assumption that they will fail. And try questioning the assumption that IF they do fail, you will regret it and end up in a worse position than before.

Instead of forcing yourself to believe that everything is going to be okay, try questioning the assumption that there are challenges you won’t be able to handle.

Instead of forcing yourself to believe “this too shall pass”, try questioning the assumption that your present unhappiness is permanent.

Instead of forcing yourself to believe in new possibilities, try questioning the assumption that you’ve already heard and seen everything there is to know.

You may be pleasantly surprised by what awaits you on the other side of your questions.

Cheers,

T.K. Coleman

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