Dr Austin Tay


Resilience has become such a buzzword and is often equated with positive thinking. Those who advocate positive thinking have their work cut out for them. The notion of being positive can be seen everywhere – media, celebrities, positive thinking gurus and social media. No one wants to be associated with negativity. It is just not part of the overall image of what our society is advocating. If you are positive, you are like a superhero because you can conquer everything if you put your mind to it. Isn’t that great? For those who are familiar with Monty Python’s Life of Brian – this is where you can start to hum to the tune of “Always look on the bright side of life”.


I am not against being positive however life is generally more complex than that. The road to positive thinking is paved, unfortunately, with negative events. It is only when we can learn to accept all the negative things that occur in our lives, we are able to allow ourselves to move towards being positive. Take for an example, if you do not allow yourself to think about the mistakes you have made but believe that you will be able to get away with them every time, you will be in for a rude shock when you eventually have to face the consequences of your actions.


We often hear others telling us – ‘‘Think positively, it is not the end of the world!”; “Be Positive!”; “Everything will be fine” and all these only encourage us to suppress, hide, ignore the negative thoughts and emotions that we experience. In doing so, we will feel momentarily positive and great, but the negative thoughts and emotions will creep back quickly before we even realize. Then it becomes a vicious cycle of suppressing, hiding, and ignoring.


In all our life journeys, they will be filled with crossroads, meandering routes and even hurdles that can set us back one or two steps. These “bumps” are meant to stop us from operating in auto-pilot mode so that we can be mindful of our experience. To be resilient, one has to be able to take on board whatever thoughts and emotions that come our way, go through the process of experiencing them, and learn the best ways to navigate our way towards the positive things in life.


photo of a sign and eyeglasses on table

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