Tag Archives: Positive Thinking

Introducing “The Power of Negative Emotion”

How Anger, Guilt and Self Doubt are Essential to Success and Fulfillment

By Todd Kashdan & Robert Biswas-Diener

By Todd Kashdan & Robert Biswas-Diener

I bought this book from Kinokuniya bookstore, KL in September last year (price RM52.50, before 10% off for members). No doubt I picked this book up straightaway after looking at the title, as some of my regular readers would know that I’m not in favour of all those positive psychology, positive thinking, positive attitudes etc kind of approach.

One of the authors (RBD) is actually a positive psychologist – and what? He co-authored a “power of negative emotion” book? If you look through the list of books that he has authored, you will inevitably see either “positive” or “happiness” in most of the titles! So what made him write this book?

The centre point that it brings, I guess, is becoming “whole”. It is similar to ACT’s concepts (accepting the positives, negatives, everything; and make full use of them all), except that it has shown me the benefits of not being mindful and that we don’t necessarily have to be so mindful all the time.

I also like it that it’s evidence-based, many interesting research studies are cited. Despite that, I also realised that it can be biased from time to time, picking out only the points that support their views and not stating the full picture.

Overall I think it’s a good read, I’d say “anything moderate will be good for us” is quite a common sense. Such as eating fruits is good, but eating too much is never good; having stress can help to push you, but too much can collapse you; feeling angry can make you a more assertive person, but too much can cause problems etc. So the book doesn’t provide much of new perspective to me, and maybe to anyone who would pick up this book. Yet it’s a good book, because it makes you think about things you already know, and help (at least a little bit) to become whole.

People who are able to use the whole range of their natural psychological gifts — those folks who are comfortable with being both positive and negative, and can therefore draw from the full range of human emotions — are the healthiest and, often, the most successful. (p. x)

Experience of Attempted Robbery: Overly Positive Thinking?

After writing so many posts about others’ life and experience (see all clinical case studies here), I’ve decided to share my encounter of attempted robbery last weekend.

In Malaysia it’s not uncommon at all to hear about robbery, snatch thief, pick pocket, house/car break in etc, and it’s really worsening in the past few years. Last weekend as I was walking back home alone (it’s really just a 4-5 minutes short journey from a mall nearby), two men, riding their motorcycle attempted to grab my little sling bag (which contains only my house keys; due to the crime rates I’m always told by parents to keep all my possessions in my pockets if I have to walk; but my pockets were too full so I had to bring a small bag for the keys).

I screamed. And I noticed that they had no knife so I tried to defend, at the same time trying to walk nearer to the house nearby – I had a feeling that there were people standing in the yard and I was proven right later on. The strap of the bag was broken and he thought he got it. As he realized the bag was still in my hands and hesitated whether to grab again, the people were all rushing out from the house. We all looked at each other! Yes, I mean I looked at the people from the house, at the robbers, and the robbers looked at me and them too. Then they left. I saw a lot of motorcycles around after they left. The family from the house spoke to me for a little, before two other couples on their motorcycles came to ask me about the robbers and whether I was ok, they even walked me home upon request by me.

I came home feeling kind of excited, more excited that frightened, and told my parents what just happened. I didn’t try to look calm, I was really calm, I felt calm! I didn’t think it was a big deal, though I did realize how lucky I was that I wasn’t hurt and nothing was taken off me, also the snatch thieves seemed quite amateur.

That night I spent some time to think about it. I realized I had so much internal dialogues during the incident. I saw them coming from the front, I was still thinking how to react (if I run they might bang me etc). I also recalled that I said “fuck!” out loud, then thought why I would say that (no I don’t usually use the word). I also thought why the family who came out didn’t shout at them to scare them away (to protect themselves just in case the thieves return to revenge?!); etc.

I  felt like I’m finally a Malaysian. Because it seems to happen to almost everyone, to their house, car or family. I was even able to joke about it.

I really think I’m just a positive, optimistic person. I knew this all the while. When we were young, my sis would say “Oh no! We have only 4 hours left till we have to wake up”; and I’d say “Wow! We still have 4 hours to sleep!” I think the incident has made me stronger and braver.

On the next morning as I was taking a shower. I realized I have a bruise on the back of my left upper arm. I couldn’t remember how I got it, but I didn’t link it to the thief. I even told my mum, “they didn’t touch me!” Then this morning, I found another bruise at the front of my upper arm. Then I realized it’s a trace of someone holding my arm really tightly. So it has to be the snatch thief, and I must have struggled, hence the bruises caused by the fingers and thumb of his.

Now I’ve slowly recalled (is this false memory?!?!) that he grabbed my arm so that I couldn’t run. And on the first night after this had happened, I never remembered this, as I was telling my parents, then siblings and in law, my friends, this piece of information never came to my consciousness at all.

Have I been overly positive from the very beginning (before I left home)? Have I focused too much on the positive sides of things? Just as the author of the book that I mentioned (see here), have I missed out the whole picture because I’m overly positive? Was I too busy feeling positive, thinking positive (what I had gained & learnt from the experience) that I overlooked how dangerous it could have been, before, during and after the incident? That I could have met a more violent robber? That he grabbed me, he could have hurt me even badly…? etc.

I know some people would say that I was traumatised hence I couldn’t recall every details during the snatching incident. Perhaps they are right. But when you’re able to think more realistically and accurately, seeing the full picture and knowing what to expect, perhaps you wouldn’t even be traumatised in the first place, I think.

Do correct me!

N.B. The incident took place in early October, and was written 2-3 days later. 

介绍书:<负面思考的力量>

很巧的我在前几篇文章里刚提起了关于接受负面,与负面相处的看法,激起我写那篇文章的原由是,结果几个月后我去了台湾,就在诚品拿起了这本书,当时候没发现原来那连接里写的就是我买下的这本书 (NT$270, RM34.22)。

NegativeThinkingBook

我不否认我是满怀期待看这本书的,我想是我误会了标题的意思,从西方心理学的角度,作者写的不是负面思考的好处(所带来的力量),而是可以看见事情的真面目(包括正负两面)的好处。

这样说你可以明白吗?

意思是说,你一味的消沉,难过,绝望,想什么都是负面的,那其实没有好处,但是当事情发生了,你要有能看见事情的正负两面,不能过度正面,不能过度负面,看到实际真实的全面,再从中作最坏的准备,最好的期待。

他反驳的是以往人们那种一味打击负面,鼓励正面,甚至过度正面的想法。这个我可以认同。事实上书写到后来,还是相当鼓励,甚至教导你怎么去正面的。只是请你同时不要忘了要现实(realistic),要看到真面目,要知道经历负面的事和情绪,看到负面,也可以有好处。太过正面,就不切实际了。除了找到正负面的平衡和力量,态度也不要太冲动急躁,更要时时有可以商量事情,点醒你的对象。

书里还提起了森田疗法(Morita Therapy),虽然还没有机会认真接触它,但应该跟我提倡的接受与承诺疗法(Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, ACT)有类似的中心思想。等我看了再分享!

说回这本书呢,我会建议给入门者看,只是市面上有更多更以理论为基础(theory-based)的书。也可能因为它是翻译书的关系,有些意思,想法,道理,理论,在经过语言与文化的转换后,就会有所变质?