If you have Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism or another autoimmune disorder, you have probably heard a positive attitude is good for you. Positive thinking, gratitude, and healthy socialization are all linked to better health outcomes. However, there can be dark side to positivity.
How often do we all hear “just think positive,” “focus on the good,” “don’t dwell on the negative,” and so on? The truth is, sometimes life is terrible or people do terrible things to us.
In these situations, a positive attitude is not appropriate. In fact, expecting as much is known as toxic positivity. If you avoid or deny negative emotions that only makes them stronger and more persistent, which in turn makes them more inflammatory for your Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism condition.
After all, negativity is a survival trait. It lets us know when we are in danger, or if something is threatening our well being.
Telling someone who is suffering to be positive is known as spiritual bypassing or gaslighting. Spiritual bypassing is using false positivity to bypass a difficult situation. Gaslighting happens when someone makes you question your sanity when you bring up something uncomfortable or negative.
Many autoimmune patients say they have been gaslighted by doctors who told them their symptoms were not real because their lab tests were normal.
Practice mindfulness more so than positivity
We all want to avoid negative and unpleasant emotions; they are uncomfortable or distressing and this leads us to label them as “bad.” But the truth is negative thoughts and emotions are there to protect and guide us. It’s just a matter of knowing how to navigate them.
Instead of resisting negativity or trying to escape it through addiction or bad habits, psychologists advise us to listen to what they have to tell us.
Resilience and self-worth are the foundations of positivity
Some self-help “gurus” say that negative thoughts attract bad things. The truth is, bad things happen to everyone on a regular basis. Positivity isn’t about always feeling good but instead about resilience and healthy self-talk in the midst of challenges.
Are you a negative self-talker? See if you practice any of these habits:
- You dwell on the bad and forget the good.
- You think you are to blame for misfortune or bad things only happen to you.
- You make problems much bigger than they really are and always expect the worst.
- You see things in black and white instead of recognizing most things in life dwell in a grey area.
Positivity means you don’t get sucked into the bottomless well of despair and hopelessness. Instead, you become your own cheerleader and coach.
Positivity requires constant practice
Positivity is not state you magically achieve. It is something that takes practice and application every day just in the way playing a musical instrument does.
This activates neuroplasticity in the brain. By practicing positivity regularly, you create new neural pathways into your brain. This not only makes you more efficient at positivity, it also changes the shape of the brain.
If you have Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, you practicing positivity also releases anti-inflammatory chemicals that modulate immunity.
Want to better manage your Hashimoto’s low thyroid? Start practicing these positivity habits:
- Strategize how to change it areas of your life that are chronically stressful and negative.
- Check in on your thoughts throughout the day to see how you are talking to yourself.
- Seek humor. Laughter makes life lighter.
- Follow a healthy diet to lower inflammation — ask my office for information on the best diet for Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
- Exercise at least 30 minutes a day to produce endorphins, which make it easier to feel positive and get through challenging periods.
- Surround yourself with people who also practice positivity. Although we all get down or need to vent, chronically negative people are a drain.
- Notice how you frame things. If you make a mistake, do you say, “I’m such an idiot,” or, “Whoops, I’ll see if I can get it right next time”?
- Talk to yourself the way you would talk to someone you care about. Would you be as hard on others as you are on yourself? Life is tough enough, you deserve kindness and respect.
Some of us had parents and caregivers who taught us healthy self-talk. Others of us have had to learn it in adulthood. It’s just a skill that takes practice in order to give yourself the support to manage Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
Ask my office for more advice on managing Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.