Positive Thinking and Resilience.  Much is written nowadays about the power of positive thinking in increasing happiness and wellbeing.  Find out more about this idea, and more about resilience – subscribe to this series of blogs on resilience.

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Positive Thinking

Given the choice between positives and negatives I think it is fair to say most people would choose positive.  So it’s that simple – think positive thoughts and all you problems will be over?  Unfortunately it’s not quite that simple!

Yes, it is clear that positive thoughts make you feel happier.  Thinking about a lovely day recently enjoyed, anticipating a party to come etc, improves mood and will have a clear affect on us.  But there is more…

Imagine you have a problem or challenge approaching.  Perhaps an exam, job interview, even a sporting challenge is looming.  Approaching this event in a positive mood, expecting and imagining a great outcome, will help you achieve just that desired result.  On the other hand approach it with negativity and your head will be down, it’s almost like inviting failure!

This is not something new.  Emile Coue, a French man, who died as long ago as 1926, was a pioneer in the field of the imagination.  He understood that the vast majority of the human mind is unconscious.  The mind might be likened to an iceberg – we are only aware of the very tip (our conscious mind), with the majority below the surface (our unconscious mind).  It is in our unconscious mind that our imagination dwells, but the level of control it exerts is amazing.

Coue’s Law of Reversed Effort

Power-of-positive-thought-Coue-Thrive-With-IanThe foundation of Coue’s teaching was that our imagination is both the principle force in our mental life, and the language of our unconscious mind.  He realised our imagination is more powerful than our willpower.

Given that everything ever created by man began as a thought, imagination, that’s some power!!

So, Coue said, positive thoughts and imagination will steer us toward positive outcomes.  But, when things don’t go our way, positive thinking will turn setbacks into learning.  (Sounds a bit like resilience doesn’t it).

So the thoughts that fill our mind tend to realize themselves; when thoughts are dwelled on our mind tends to turn them into action.

“Whenever there is a conflict between the imagination and the will, it is always the imagination that wins”

Can you imagine any successful sportsman approaching a match imagining losing.  If they did their unconscious mind would dominate, mistakes would creep in and their expectation would be met.  Remember the last time you saw a tennis player, on the verge of unexpected victory, serve a double fault.  They were in the lead when their unconscious mind took over ” Hang on, you were expecting to lose”.  Coue’s law explains many such situations.

Thoughts and Resilience

We cannot always achieve the outcome we wished for.  (Two tennis players cannot win the same singles match.) The power of positive thought cannot always change outcomes but it does increase our resilience.  When events go against us we can either respond positively or negatively.  Negative responses such as “I can never do anything right” or ” Why does this always happen to me”, kill our hopes and dreams.  Responding positively; ” I’ll practice and be better next time” or “It isn’t my time yet”, gives hope for the future.

Controlling our thoughts this way takes practice, but it quite quickly becomes a habit and the results are there to see.  Our mind cannot accept two thoughts simultaneously.  If we try to think two contradictory thoughts at the same time they will be rejected. If, however, we focus on one thought it will penetrate our unconscious mind and be acted upon.  It goes without saying that such thoughts need to be positive in order to build our resilience!


Positive-thoughts-shape-our-day-Thrive-With-IanThe Thrive Programme includes skills and techniques to help you learn positive thought and resilience.  Why not make a list of 10 recent positive experiences in your life.  These do not need to be big things – a nice meal, enjoying a funny film, a pleasant conversation, a sunny day – they all happen but we tend not to notice.  Once you have your list read it several times every day, spending a moment to ‘relive’ each event in your imagination.  Do this regularly and it will become a habit – and make sure you update your list regularly.

Your mind cannot concentrate on negative and positive thoughts simultaneously so keep it busy with the positives.

You can learn this step towards resilience and a thriving life at Thrive With Ian.  Contact me now for a free, no obligation, chat to find out how I can help you.  (Oh-and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to ensure you keep up with these articles.)


I’m Ian and I’m a qualified Thrive Programme Consultant. Using the professionally developed Thrive Programme – a proven, evidence based, positive psychology training programme – I work with people from all walks of life, providing the insights and skills they need to change their lives for the better.

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