P is for Being Your Positive Self

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“Be true to yourself,” is the advice sometimes given to people who may be facing a decision.

This view is reinforced by many people who have written about the regrets of people who are dying. Looking back on their lives, a theme that is often repeated by individuals is:

I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself.

You can discover more about this theme in the following interview given by Bronnie Ware.



Being true to yourself is sound advice, but there can be complications. Some people may feel that they have multiple selves.

How to tackle this challenge? One approach is to encourage a person to be their positive self, rather than their negative self.

Many individuals know how to be their positive self. They know it is important to plan ahead, take care of their health, do things they enjoy, spend time with encouraging people and do satisfying work. They know the rewards of developing such healthy habits.

Many individuals also know how to be their negative self. They know how to let things drift, feel sorry for themselves and hope things will change. They know the consequences of developing such unhealthy habits.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific things you can do to be your positive self and to be your negative self.

Describe the specific consequences of taking each of these routes.

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“This sounds simple, but you don’t always have a choice in these matters,” somebody may say.

People do not always choose what happens to them. They can, however, choose their attitude to how they respond to such events.

One approach is for them to build on their positive self and find ways to manage their negative self.

During the past 50 years I have worked with many people who have overcome setbacks successfully. Such people often take the following steps to shape their future lives.

They start by getting support. They move on to creating a structure in their lives. They then do things that are stimulating, satisfying and give them a sense of success. Let’s explore these steps.


Different people find different ways to get support. Some find ways to encourage themselves. Some spend time with encouraging people. Some find other ways to build a support network.

People who suffer a setback, for example, often need to spend time in their chosen sanctuary. They may rest, sleep, write, listen to music, see a counsellor or whatever. They begin to heal and regain their strength.

Sanctuaries are great, but there comes a time to move on, otherwise the muscles atrophy. Some people move forward by aiming to control the controllables. They clarify:

The things they can control in their life and work.

The things they can’t control in their life and work.

The things they can do to build on what they can control and manage what they can’t.

They may then set short-term goals, work hard and get a success. Feeling more confident, they take the next step in their life or work.


People like to feel in control. Different people do this in different ways. One approach is to create a structure they can follow to achieve their goals.

Some people take control by looking ahead, organising their time and making a plan they can follow each day. They aim to make things happen, rather than wait for things to happen.

Similar advice is given on many programmes that help people to deal with depression. People are advised to create a plan to sleep properly, eat good food, exercise and do things they enjoy.

Following such a plan provides a sense of purpose and often produces positive results. People then feel more in charge of shaping their futures.

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People then do things that give them positive energy. They may choose to do exercise, play music, play sports, care for their garden, write, do enjoyable projects, spend time with encouraging people or whatever.

They aim to pursue activities that are stimulating and give them a sense of satisfaction. They put themselves into positive cycles, rather than negative cycles. They often find that doing these things gives them strength to tackle other challenges.


People often develop by doing things they enjoy and also encouraging other people. They can set stimulating goals, become absorbed in the activity and do superb work.

They do their best, keep developing and achieve a feeling of success. This helps them to keep developing as people and professionals.

Building on the positive self
and managing the negative self

“That sounds okay,” somebody may say, “but how do you manage the negative emotions? Do you just ignore them?”

The answer is to find ways to keep building on the positive self. It is also to recognise and act on the warning signs regarding the negative self.

Different people have different warning signs. These may include feeling out of control, having negative self talk, suffering recurring illnesses, experiencing long periods of lethargy or whatever.

Some people become numb to the warning signs or sink into negative cycles. Some people become aware of the warning signs, however, and do something to put themselves into positive cycles.

A person may choose to be their positive self by planning ahead, doing something positive and getting a success. They then keep following these habits to maintain the positive cycle.

Let’s return to your own life and work. How can you continue to be your positive self?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific things you can do to aim to be your positive self in the future.

Describe the specific things that may happen as a result of you aiming to be your positive self.

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