“Positive” psychology, when to focus on the good. Take some life lessons from your Thanksgiving table.

When I see patients in practice, even when we appear close to the end of treatment, there is an expectation that they must continue to tell me the negative things that are going on in their life. I make sure to stop them and ask, “Are you telling me that because it is really bothering you and you want to talk about it (when then, of course I do) or are you telling me because you think that may be what I want to hear? Around 90% of the time I hear, “I thought you only wanted to hear the bad.”

We have a tendency in our therapeutic process to focus on what is wrong, so we can make it better. But, what happens to the good that is already there? Does it not matter? Do we not care? Well, of course we do!!!! There is a cognitive distortion called “minimization.” That although something good has happened in our life, we ignore it, dismiss it, or minimize it because we are focused on what is not going well.

This Thanksgiving when you go around the kitchen table and give thanks, think about why you are doing that on one day of the year. I challenge you (and myself, because this is a really hard one to do), to think of 5 positive things that are going on in your life right now. I will lead by example: 1. I have a very supportive, kind, and caring husband. 2. I have two great kids who give me more love than I know what to do with in my life 3. I have the sweetest and smartest labrador rescue dogs who are my ear pieces and support systems more than they know. 4. Every day, as my late and beloved Cousin Susie reminds me, I have the beautiful world to look at and enjoy the breeze. 5. I am grateful I have my parents, who love and support me in every way they know how to.

I am making the pledge to not only give thanks on Thanksgiving, but to find a way to increase the positive in my life and not let “minimization” take over. Every day I will find 5 new things to be grateful for and I hope you take this challenge as well.

If you want to, tag #thanksgivingchallenge to let us know you are participating on social media.

Author:

I am a clinical psychologist with approximately 15 years of experience assessing and treating anxiety and depressive disorders in young children, adolescents, young adults, adults and geriatric populations. I completed a 6-year predoctoral training award at the National Institute of Mental Health, and postdoctoral training at the Anxiety Disorders Center at the Institute of Living/Hartford Hospital. From my clinical and research experiences, I have come to see the struggles of many families deciding when to pursue professional help and feeling very lost in the process. I will address several mental health issues that will help educate and empower my readers to make better mental health decisions for themselves. Welcome to my blog! Johanna Kaplan, Ph.D. Disclaimer-This blog is not and cannot be used in replace of formal therapy. This blog is used to inform and educate and is not a form of informal or formal advice.

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