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The 3 Ps:

Pizza, Positive thinking and the Placebo effect.

Positive Thinking
Are you one of those People? 
Are you  one of those positive people. 
Happy go lucky. 
Can do attitude? Are you and  Eager Beaver? Ready for a challenge? Do you  think outside the box? Do you find the silver linings in everything, even the in the face of disappoint  or even traumatic loss? 
Are you one of those People? 
Do you like those people? Or do you loath those people?
Very often positive thinking, and the people who practice it, get a bad rap. 
They are perceived as naive. 
Ignorant of reality. 
Easy marks, that will be taken advantaged of.
They are in for a Rude Awakening.

Maybe you are a “realist” who prides yourself in seeing the world for what it is.  
Well you can rest assured that you don’t have to be some kind of Pollyanna with your head in the clouds and your feet levitating off the ground to think positive. Positive thinking is actually very much rooted in the seeing the world for what it is; Uncertain, Unpredictable despite our best efforts to account for all the variable, and it’s going tp proceed along however it will whether we like it or not. 

From a counseling standpoint positive thinking is about perseverance and being open to a range of possibilities. It is about looking ahead and continuing to move forward.  This is in stark contrast to cynical pessimism which looks as the world as stagnant predictable parade of impossibility and pain.
Both pessimists and optimists agree on this uncertain nature of reality. Indeed it is the cynic’s greatest hope in saving grace that allows them to take pain and tragedy as inevitable, with the faintest glimmer of salvation.  While the optimist will profess “It aint over til it’s over,”  the pessimist will say it’s over while they silently pray for a miracle. The problem is such a perspective takes what little power the individual has in the situation and gives it over to the fates, the gods, or the universe.
A typical negative perspective is the result of focusing  on specific events in the past which leads to the conclusion that the repeating of such is inevitable.  
A positive perspective acknowledged that past precedent, but is focused on the as yet unwritten future and range of possibilities still in play within the dynamic uncertain future. 

When illustrating this concept with clients I like to reflect on one of the world’s most exquisite delicacies: the pizza slice!. Consider the shape of a pizza slice and the manner in which it is consumed (forget about stuffed crust, I realize it can confuse things). The slice is grasped by the outer crust and the inner point is thrust into the mouth to be eaten. As this first bite is taken we have the perfect example of positive vs negative thinking perspective. The pointy end is directed into the mouth. It narrows to a point that  is oriented towards the past. It is being chewed up and swallowed first. This is a perspective formed by looking narrowly at a specific point in the past. In contrast, the crust is facing out ward and forward. Its circular edge provides maximum surface area. This is a perspective formed by looking broadly forward into the future. 
So the question to ask yourself is which way do you eat your pizza?  

On a related note to the reality of positive thinking, I often hear that counseling only works because of the placebo effect.  While I think this is meant to disparage the legitimacy and effectiveness of counseling,  I am going to take it at face value and wholeheartedly agree. One of the many ways counseling does  actually work is helps people to take a pizza crust perspective fo the world.  This change produces more positive thinking patterns.  We know that thinking positive improves outcomes precisely because of the placebo effect. That is what the placebo effect is, feeling better as the result of nothing else but thinking that you might feel better. Positive thinking reduces resistance to change and allows it to happen. It primes or prepares a person for change, and then natural processes that are in effect all the time can make a noticeable impact due to decreased resistance. This isn’t lulling yourself into a false sense of  security. On the contrary, it is opening yourself up to a range of possibilities uncertain and unknown. 
And  there you have it, Pizza, Positive thinking and the Placebo effect are one in the same.

Janelle Adams, MA, LMFT, ATR Janelle Adams, MA, LMFT, ATR, offers her extensive expertise to help people of all ages from all walks of life to lead happy, balanced lives. Through her work at In Touch Counseling Services in Vancouver, Washington, she delivers care and treatment designed to address mental health disorders, relationship challenges, physical health problems, and more. Janelle takes a holistic, integrative approach with each person she sees at In Touch Counseling Services. She knows that each individual’s experiences and difficulties are unique. She blends a variety of treatments — including ancient treatments like acupuncture and leading-edge approaches like Alpha-Stim® cranial electrotherapy stimulation — based on the individual’s specific needs and preferences. As a registered art therapist (ATR) and licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT), Janelle can draw on her extensive experience to help each patient.

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