Most of the time I am an optimist, but my work continually brings me into contact with pessimistic people who are struggling with life. My role is to be a positive influence, to help them get out of their downwards spiral. The trouble is just telling them what to do does not work! Non directive counseling just letting them tell their story may work but it takes a lot of time! So what can I do? I can give them some practical, helpful hints, but what they really need is to discover some answers for themselves!
Over the last 20 years I have read many books that have been helpful to me as I have assisted others in this process. However, few of these books on their own cannot help people in their journey out of dark pessimism into the light – they are just too heavy! How to be Positively Optimistic – Your Personal Guide to Positive Thinking and Dynamic Growth This book is different, in that it is the sort of book that will enable people to find their own solutions.
The content is fairly predictable, but the genius is in the format, the illustrations and the hints on application. We all know that optimistic people have more fun, and that self talk stories set us up to go either up or down, but how do we turn helplessness and pessimism into hope and optimism?
McLean gives us a 5 step plan to do just that, which he summarises under the following headings:
- A=Action – helping us to be honest about our negative self-talk
- B=Belief – Are we ready to challenge our irrational beliefs?
- C=Consequences – are we prepared to consider what will happen if we continue to do what we always do?
- D= Dispute that norm – what would happen if I introduced new self talk stories?
- E=Energise – How to take action down this new pathway.
That may not do justice to the content, but it should give you an idea of where he is going. I found his use of mind maps, focus boxes, quotes and stories all helpful, but it was that mouse that turned up on every page that kept me moving forward! In contrast to so many authors McLean overcame the desire to fill every page with words, which resulted in a short (150 pages), uncluttered, dynamic book, that even depressed people who don’t usually read much, can get through. I believe that many of them will in the process find their own answers with out the need for extended, professional therapy.
The climb to the top of the rock (at The Rock,near Wagga Wagga) is challenging but worth the effort…just like the circumstances you might be facing, so don’t give up yet.
A great book that I am happy to recommend, especially when it comes from an author who understands the Australian psyche! We are different and though we share many similarities with our US and Canadian cousins, it is a welcome change to see some home grown material.
Chaplain Ian Whitley