Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c) 2018 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries
“Money! Money! Money!” The chanting crowd grew adamant as voices surged in pitch and volume. “Money! Money!”
For a few minutes my sixteen year-old ears recoiled against the deafening noise. I could feel the room pulsating, vibrations swelling from the floor.
Hundreds of people, mostly men, led by a motivational cheerleader of sorts, were doing their best to build self-confidence and enthusiasm for another year of slammed doors and occasional big wins in the uneasy world of house-to-house sales.
Positive thinking makes us rich, right?
Some attendees, like my father, had other full-time jobs. His was as a life insurance agent, having paid his dues to build a substantial word-of-mouth reputation. Yet he never seemed satisfied. Our property was inundated with inventory and even live animals as he chased one get-rich-quick scheme after another.
The latest was cosmetics. It was this Avon-wannabe company who had employed a male force to present cosmetics to women in living rooms across the country. Perhaps that was the reason for the chant, “Money! Money!” No doubt it was easier to grow excited about cash than cosmetics and wigs. Gearing up for daily rejection by women may have discouraged some as well.
Sales is a respectable occupation in and of itself. It helps to feel confident. In the scenario I am describing, the message was about making money at all costs. “No never means no.” Sound familiar?
People are actually important
Later, my dad told me the way to make people do what you want is to make them feel important. My response was, “People are important!”
The day of the chant, the atmosphere was one of worship of money, and disrespect for potential customers. In the name of positive thinking, confidence-building, and raising company morale, this convention promoted the demeaning of persons for the sake of riches.
I do not think it goes too far to suggest that the men (and few women) who literally took on that charge also leaked that philosophy into other areas of life. The rah-rah did nothing but encourage a morally compromised mindset.
Positive thinking does not change us
A sickened feeling filled my heart. I can still sense it. This is one example of how positive thinking can fail. If it is not founded on constructive and compassionate intentions, it is simply a catalyst for more harm.
Positive thinking is different from positive change in that it has no moral compass of its own.
With regard to mental health, employing only positive thoughts as a hopeful cure will disappoint. Positive change requires more than superficial attention. We need awareness of false core beliefs and the skills to challenge them.
Positive thinking and denial – are they the same?
Stay tuned for the second in this series when we take a look at how positive thinking and denial relate to our mental health.