The “Positive Mindset” Myth
By Nat Howard, BA Dip Edu
Just as we know that you can be “too negative” – it’s equally true that you can be “too positive.”
The popular self-help and self-talk mantras of “high vibes only” are very misleading. It’s a myth that you can, or should, be positive about everything. It often promotes a denial of what is really going on, and doesn’t lead you to explore the reasons why you’re experiencing something the way you are. It also promotes an idea of sameness. That we all think, feel and experience the world in the same way. Or that we should. When the truth is, we don’t.
What is perceived as a “positive” by one person, can really feel like a “negative” to another. It’s not a matter of just “changing your mindset” to “be more positive” about a situation. What that kind of advice usually means is “change the way you think to be more like me / them / this system.” What people need is the right mindset for them. The one that allows their mind to thrive from the challenges of life.
There is a lot of benefit to focusing more on the hope, benefits, lessons and strengths that we develop through adversity. A growth or resilience mindset is very powerful. But, to develop a growth mindset that is truly resilient, we need to really understand what someone’s strengths are.
The clue to our strength, often, can be found in what drives our behaviour. Here are some examples:
The “Best of Friends”
Some people are highly receptive to their oxytocin levels, which is a bonding and connection hormone. They have such a strong need for it, that they can seek connections where they don’t receive the quality of return and recognition they are after – leading to a mindset or belief that they are “unlovable” or “too much.” Not feeling a connection is going to hit them hard, so it’s not a simple matter of spinning a positive on it. Their connection seeking is a strength, because they actually bring people together. The key is to support them to use this gift wisely, in the right places with the right people who will recognise and value their worth.
People who are more receptive to dopamine are highly goal focused. This can lead to an overemphasis on the need to continually achieve – which can create a mindset of “never achieving enough” and striving for a goal at all costs. Not achieving a goal can be shattering to these people, and they’re not generally encouraged by what they perceive as “false positives” that try downplay the reality. For these people, the key is to harness their strength in being so driven, to focus clearly on what they can, and do, achieve and execute that with a strong sense of purpose and precision.
Certain people have higher receptivity to prolactin. This creates strong protective and nurturing behaviours for those they love. This drive is so strong that they can over-sacrifice themselves, or over-worry about those they care for. The more concerned they are for others, the less likely they can be to care for themselves. So the attempted “positives” on why they should take care of themselves just doesn’t motivate them enough to put in the hard work. The key for these people is to frame their necessary self-care as the best way to care for their loved ones. They then use their enormous strength in the way that is truly fulfilling for them.
Notice that these frames aren’t about being “positive.” They’re about being realistic for the person. They’re about being precise and accurate about what actually drives the person’s behaviour. We’re not trying to force a focus onto a false positive, we’re putting it squarely on the person’s real strengths.
Who each of these people are isn’t about guesswork. It is based on their specific neurobiology. It is essential that you have accurate and precise information to support behaviour change and mindsets with clients. This is what you learn through the PHA courses, and what is provided through the personalised AI technologies of Shae™ . Sign up now for the next PHA course to take your practice to the next level of precision.