A few days ago when I was at one of my book club meetings, a new member bravely challenged us on our choice of books. She said: “Although I have only been in the group for three months and have really enjoyed our discussions, I’d like to know if you always choose books with such depressing subjects.” Our leader skillfully rescued the situation by pointing out that our next book was going to be very different. It is be an easy-to-read novel about friendship.
Later, in my usual fashion, I reflected on this discussion. Yes, the subject matter of our last three books were all tough to take. First there was one about the Holocaust, next a contemporary account of life in one of the world’s poorest slums, and finally we read of one soldier’s horrific experiences during the last world war. (His plane was shot down into a shark-infested ocean and subsequently he was interned and tortured in a Japanese prisoner of war camp.)
Each one of these three books relentlessly faced us with gruesome and graphic examples of man’s inhumanity to man. And, although we had all been interested to read these real-life stories, we had also expressed how emotionally and physically disturbed we had been by the violence and tragedy described. Our challenger was right. We needed to reflect on why we were continually choosing to put ourselves through such nightmarish experiences.
I don’t know why or how our group had slipped into this negative habit. But I do know that this occurrence is not unusual. I am currently a member of several book groups and I have belonged to many others. In each one, I have encountered the same situation. Eventually one member gets exasperated: “Enough is enough!” they will exclaim and plead for “happier” books to read. The rest of the group will then breathe a unified sigh of relief and agree.
The problem is that “happy” books, films, and plays never appeal for very long. We begin to thirst for the adrenalin rush of tragedy, terror and the bad guys and girls. Negative drama is undoubtedly both addictive and attractive. However, a surfeit of it is never good news for our confidence.
My experience has convinced me that one of the four crucial components of inner confidence is positive thinking. So those of us whose confidence is apt to wobble need to ration our intake of negativity. This month’s Confidence Challenge is designed to help you do this. Here is what I suggest you can do over the next few weeks:
- Think about how and, how often in your day-to-day life your conscious and/or sub-conscious mind is fed with negativity.
- Over the next week note down some examples, e.g. I heard and/or saw the news five times today; we watched three TV series this past week with depressing subjects; I listened at length to two friends’ bad experiences today; I played three hours of ….. (a violent computer game) this week ; just before going to sleep , I read more of …. … (i.e. a depressing book like the ones read by Gael’s group!)
- Set yourself some resolutions that will ensure that you have at least a few extra positive experiences during the next week.
- Reflect on how you might be able to decrease the number of negative experiences that you feed into your mind on a regular basis.
lots of luck and have a great Easter break