The Positive Intent Approach to be Happy on Social Media EP0011

Are you approaching conversations thinking people are out to get you?

Do you think people that you encounter on social media are trying to harm you directly or harm the world and therefore you indirectly as a person of this world?

How do you feel about the conversations you are having on social media?

Are you even talking with anyone?

What if you could open up and connect with people and realize and choose to know that they are doing the best they can trying to make things better.

Their direction may be different than your own. After all people are not the same.

We ARE each very different. Its no wonder that we might each do things very differently.

When we choose to approach conversations in real life or on social media, knowing that people are different and will approach things different…


We choose to give them the benefit of the doubt that they are trying to be positive, open up and share some helpful insight, we can be grateful and choose to pursue the idea exercising curiosity.

We might learn something new. We might affirm a lesson learned or find a more effective way to apply a lesson and be successful.

We just need to let go of the idea that we are the center of the universe, not everything is about us. We can realize that not all people we interact with are trying to do us harm, nor do the world harm.

We can connect and learn and build trust with people doing the best they can with the experiences life has granted them.

Some Helpful Articles on Positive Intent 

Can Positive Reframing turn into Defensiveness?

Where is this defensiveness coming from with you two? ~ paraphrasing a couples counselor

My current relationship ended a few weeks ago.  Today, I experienced an insight in a moment that almost turned defensive. It is my general goal not to discuss my ex-girlfriend too much. I do want to focus on my own stuff. In this situation, a super short exchange helped me identify my thoughts and feelings, just as ‘defensiveness’ was snow balling, and fortunately we both halted the avalanche.

A Question I couldn’t answer about my defensiveness

I didn’t know the answer to the question above asked by my couples counselor. I had no idea how many conversations become such a struggle in defensive reactions?

I had no idea at the time. I tended to look outward for many reasons. Inwardly, I could see the end result, and I had no idea how each of us kept getting (rapidly) to a very defensive place.

This morning I stumbled into what feels like a big clue!

This is not the actual conversation

This morning I used a practice, a tool that I first started to learn from my now ex-girlfriend. I used this tool just after she mentioned something about me. It was something that hinted at my current situation or possible future. It was not totally inaccurate, and there was this one word in the statement that did not resonate with me.

It wasn’t negative. It was entirely incorrect. And it did not fit my emotions nor knowledge of where I am and where I am going.

Reframing negative conversations into Positives

Three years back, my girlfriend and a number of great Ted Talks and self help books and other things introduced me to the concept of Positive Reframing.

Positive Reframing is a technique to help you view the other person’s motives and behaviour in a more positive light. It is all about resisting the urge to go to war, and instead trying to think about the conflict from a more positive perspective.” ~ How to use Positive Reframing

Nothing in that definition sounds like being defensive. It sort of sounds the opposite of being defensive even.

In the early days, my girlfriend introduced me to Abraham Hicks, a sort of spiritual guru and public speaker. I’m not judging who she is or what she does. I will say that I found her example of speaking and responding to questions put to her by people experiencing negative thoughts to be excellent examples of how to engage in Positive Reframing.

Abraham Hicks examples helped me greatly practice dialoguing in my head how to do the same. My girlfriend and I listened to many different talks via YouTube videos and such. We worked together to Positively Reframe our own words and help each other add a more positive ‘vibration’ to our conversations. We practiced and got better and better, and I look back on this stage of our relationship with a lot of love and gratitude. It helped me heal in many ways.

Over the year to come, I also started getting counseling, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy in a group setting through the Veterans Administration. Part of the coping skills taught here also included Positive Reframing. Plus, I benefited from using the WoeBot App, an artificial Intelligence based Conditional Behavioral Therapy program from Stanford.  It too taught me a great deal about Positive Reframing, identifying language with ‘Labeling’, ‘Distortions’ and many other skill sets to identify things that could increase my anxiety and make me less effective and healthy.

I picked up these skills and kept practicing them. I got better and healthier and more effective. Fast forward to now, and in many ways, I am feeling much more like my former extra capable self.

And along the way my relationship with my girlfriend came to an end. 😦

We are individually working through the Conscious Uncoupling method as we end our three year relationship. I find it to be a very healthy way to end a relationship in a compassionate, healing and even loving way.

We had sought couples counseling a few months earlier. We were not able to keep it up for many reasons, and one of the things that we learned is that we rapidly escalated into defensive language and actions very rapidly.

Focusing on my stuff

As a reminder, I’m working my stuff and only sharing the back drop for the relationship dynamic as minimally as I can.

This morning when I heard something that didn’t resonate with me, I reframed it in a response. I restated the sentence with a change in a single word to more precisely capture what I was actually thinking, and not the slightly imprecise language that had been projected (not requested).

My former girlfriend immediately felt and responded that I was being ‘defensive.’

That was when the insight came to me in the form of a question.

I knew and thought immediately, I am NOT being defensive. I am reframing the projection.

Weird thing about defensiveness, as soon as we state “I am NOT” even in our heads, that’s sort of defensive.
In this case, it is a paradox. Obviously defensive on the one hand, and simultaneously not defensive as it is correcting a projection and bringing more precision to the conversation such that I can express my true feelings.

So there is a rub here. My feelings were shut down in the moment.

Her feelings were likely shut down in the moment as well. I did not recognize nor accept her statement (albeit about me. tangential issue here.)

I stepped on her feelings about what I was experience, and restated my feelings as they actually were with slightly more precision. I positively reframed them AND

My execution in this case of Positively Reframing her statement, the way I did it, was entirely defensive.

This positive and useful skill had flipped to the dark side and been used poorly.

Suddenly, a year and a half of conversations that could have gone better, and in the early months of our relationship had gone beautifully, made more sense.

  • I was over using the tool of Positive Reframing.
  • I was over using it in particular with my girlfriend as that was one of the foundations we started our relationship with in the early months.
  • I was jumping the gone, short circuiting the process before engaging in the reframing of imprecise words….

Instead of dealing with the projections, instead of dealing with issue of not being allowed to even speak for myself and my feelings first….

  • I was clipping off her attempt to express her feelings about what she thought she was witnessing in me or my future.
  • I was not stating anything like, ‘let me Positively Reframe these words about my feelings, myself or my future’. I was just doing it.
  • I was not communicating what I was going to do. I was doing it without warning.

I’m not taking all the blame in this dynamic, just trying to own my part in a cycle that has proven challenging to break.

In a different phase of our relationship, we had savored reframing our conversations and helping each other do better at this. As we transitioned out of the phase where limerence was the primary force in our relationship then. We moved into a new stage and limerence faded, and suddenly (I suspect) this Positive Reframing couples activity shifted.

I didn’t see the shift nor did I understand that this old way of communicating that brought us together, might now start to pull us apart. (note I also believe there are other reasons why we were pulled apart, this is only a small part in all that)

I had previously learned about how communication methods don’t always work in different stages of relationships.

I just hadn’t seen how that might be with Positive Reframing.

I needed more knowledge.

Googling ‘Is reframing defensive’ helped me find some new answers.

William Berry’s article “Are you overusing your psychological tools” in Psychology Today helped quite a bit.

After my lead in above, you might have guessed it by now. Anything can work until it doesn’t. Anything can be terrific when used just right and not so terrific when over used.

Same thing goes for Positive Reframing.

When we use it too much, an easy habit to get into because many of us do need to practice it to learn how to use it at all, it can turn into something that is not helfpul and can prevent us from feeling what we need to feel.

All that work to get more precise about our feelings, might delay our ever truly feeling the feels, sharing or communicating that, blocking others from feeling their feels, and in turn demonstrating and inspiring defensiveness.

In retrospect, all of our great work together to develop this new emotional/mental judo technique of Positive Reframing, eventually left us beaten and battered by each other in our respective emotional dojos. We were each others practice dummies. 😦

At some point, our practice might have even ended, and I didn’t realize it or maybe she didn’t and thats when all that practice started to feel like combat and the defensiveness went to new levels.

Our greatest strength in the early days, a willingness to open up and work on ourselves together, became our kryptonite as we over worked and suffered.

I am sad that I didn’t figure this out sooner. I can’t take back my actions or lack of insight soon enough.

And yet, this life is a journey and I am learning even right now. There are other reasons why we are breaking up as well. This might have been some of the fuel for the fire imho.



How To Stop The Slow Death – My Night With a Negative Nymphomaniac

We all make mistakes in life. If we make a mistake, it is important to forgive ourselves and move on. Let it go. If we are really good, we might even momentarily make the time to learn from the mistake, and then let it go. After all, the goal isn’t to keep repeating the same mistakes!Last night I made a mistake and spent the end of the evening with a negative nymphomaniac.

This article might end up being a little too personal for some people, so here is your spoiler alert and warning. Read on at your own risk!

Backstory of a Positive Day

I am not going to recount my entire day yesterday, but let me just say that it was a positive day. Good things happened. I accomplished a good deal of positive things for myself including getting a great start at making a significant update to my resume. I had floundered with that over the last few months, and felt like I was finally tacking into something good, something that felt like the right path.

Towards the end of the day, I got so caught up in my resume work on the actual resume as well as updates to my LinkedIn profile (still a work in progress) that I missed going to yoga at 6:30. I had eyeballed the clock for 3 hours before. I kept watching the time slowly move forward waiting to get to yoga and it wasn’t time and wasn’t time and then, all of a sudden it was past time and I had missed it.

So I went out for a run instead. It wasn’t much of a consolation prize. I wasn’t really in a running mood. Halfway through my run, just as I was about to turn around and run back, my phone rang. It was my ex-wife. She wanted to see if I might be able to pick up our son in the city as she was caught up signing paper work and buying a new car. There is some back story with me picking him up that I will mostly skip. Let’s just say, I had asked him many many times if he needed a ride and he didn’t, until he did. 🙂 I didn’t mind. In fact, I had not gotten to see him on his birthday the day before. I was missing him so this was a good thing.

I ran back home at a sprint for most of a mile and a half, past the cross fit zombies and to my apartment. I jumped in the shower, got out and checked my text messages. No confirmation that I really did need to pick him up, so I asked. The response was ‘I’m still stuck here, can you get him?’ My answer, yes I’m leaving now.

So I drive into Charlotte about 30 minutes away and pick him up at the Belk or Blumenthal Performing Arts Center where he had had his first night of rehearsal. (He had been selected for a best actor award from his high school musical making him eligible to participate in the Blumies (sp?). Cool Stuff

I pick him up, drive him back towards his Mom’s home as it was her week for custody. Get about halfway there and she texts me to bring him to the dealership to help drive the 2nd car home, not a trade in apparently. So I detour down the interstate another 5 miles and just missed some nasty road construction at Cox Rd. I drop him off and congratulate his mother on her new car, and drive home feeling lonely.

I have been seeing someone since about December. Her name is Sharon and she is amazing. I had just seen her the day before. Its a long distance relationship, a couple hours drive. So when I say I was ‘feeling lonely’ relatively speaking, I was not feeling that lonely, but lonely was the feeling regardless.

The Evening Starts

I get home about 8:45 or so. I’m hungry as I had not had supper so I warmed up some curry pork and potato left overs. I had one bowl while watching a John Oliver episode on HBO Now followed by another bowl and another episode. Neither the food nor the episodes were very satisfying. I couldn’t quite get myself into the mood to do more work on my resume or work in general.

I turned on the latest episode of Game of Thrones (spoilers ahead). This episode was a bit on the dull side as well. Kaleesi does her get naked and burn people thing again. It didn’t seem fresh. Her character has been sort of one dimensional for a while now and has about as much feeling as a robot. The rest of the episode was dull as well. Its building to something, but at this point its becoming easy to see where its going.

I had no intention when I got home of watching a couple hours of tv. But now I was feeling like I was still missing something. I was still feeling lonely.

I didn’t see anything on HBO Now. I looked through Netflix and saw that the awesome Queen Latifah movie Last Holiday was there. I wanted to watch that again, but thought I might wait and watch that with Sharon or the kids. Its a great movie, positive and uplifting. I should have watched it.

Instead, I flipped through the categories on Netflix and eventually stumbled on Nymphomaniac: Volume 1. I didn’t google it or anything (would have been wise). I hit play and I was immediately struck by the feel of something similar to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. So I kept watching. I liked those books and the original movie too, not the Hollywood travesty.

I thought the movie might be a bit on the edgy and intellectual side with a bit of sex, maybe a lot of sex. I wasn’t looking for porn, and I was not looking for masturbation either. I was looking for something to take my mind off life in general.

Little did I know that this movie was long as hell. I do not generally mind that, but this was over two hours and apparently volume 1 had a volume 2. The next day I learned that it was originally a 5 hour and 45 minute single movie before it was split in two.

It had Daniel Defoe, Christian Slater, Uma Thurman, Shia Lebouf (all in small roles) and other actors taking turns as the main characters at different ages of life.
This movie was a DOWNER!

In fact, I also did not realize that the Danish director consider this part of a trilogy named the Depression Trilogy.

This was not what I needed, but I got slowly sucked into it. It was like getting slowly boiled alive….

That’s not the best analogy as I was not getting angry.

It was like being slowly gassed while sitting in a car running in a garage with the door shut.

It wears you down and before you realize its bad for you and not what you want, you are so worn down you can’t flip away.

That’s how this movie was.

I disliked it quite a bit. It simply pulled down my energy the entire time I watched it. I started fast forwarding through it. The movie is broken up into a half dozen chapters. I got to a point where I kept watching and fast forwarding because I thought it might have something that pulled it all together and made a bit of a ‘punch line’ sort of like Reservoir Dogs or Pulp Fiction.
This was not really the case. There was no unifying string or scene.

There were a lot of sex scenes, but not very many considering this is almost a 6 hour movie.

The sex scenes were extremely graphic, closer to porn than something you might expect to see on Netflix. If you are looking for a movie with male nudity aroused or flacid, this had it.

BUT the movie was not sexy. In fact, watching the sex scenes fast forward or not, was the type of thing that is more likely to turn you off of sex for days or weeks. I’m not judging people and their sexual desires, but this just was not sexy. It was a very loveless(intentionally so for the plot) type of sex.

It was sad.

There is a reason why this is in a Depression Trilogy because this sex was sad sad sad.

It only got worse. After watching maybe 40 minutes of the actual movie and fast forwarding through the rest mostly at 3x fast forward, I felt drained.

I went to be feeling exhausted and depressed and annoyed with myself for having subjected myself to that crap.

I ended up sleeping a bit later than I intended after going to bed later than I intended and waking up still feeling drained. Mornings are not my best time of day. I usually build up my positivity and energy throughout the day. When I first wake up, that’s when I am at my lowest.

But the night before the movie had taken me to my lowest and a night of sleep added to that. So this morning I had to work extra hard to pull myself out of that negativity crap.


I’m writing about it now to clear the final cobwebs of negativity out of my system.
I’m sitting on a boat ramp/launch for kayaks on the South Fork River just down from my place. The clouds in the sky are just starting to burn off (finally) and the sun is hitting my back occasionally. I’m about 3 feet from the water and a very large bass just jumped behind me.

Happy on Facebook, Happy with screens?

This movie things as it turns out is a bit of a metaphor in my book for what we all do on a regular basis online, on social media, on Facebook in particular, when we are looking at screens.

We watch ‘screens’ expecting to fill something in our lives. When we actually connect and converse with people, it can be positive and filling. But when we just passively sit back and hit play or scroll down endlessly, it drains us.
Its like a gambling addict going to a casino and pulling the slot machine lever over and over and over and losing.
In gambling, the science has taught us that in the mind of a compulsive gambler, a near miss is the emotional equivalent of a win. ‘I just barely lost’ translates into ‘WOW I ALMOST WON!’ So they repeat this and pull the lever again and again and again, ALMOST WINNING. But then they have little if anything to show for it afterwards and the depression sets in, if it hasn’t already accumulated.

We all do the same thing on Facebook and twitter and on Netflix binge watching tv shows.

Now, sometimes we have a good experience and we really do win.
Sometimes though we chase a good experience and never get it. Sometimes we chase things and don’t even realize we are ‘hooked’ and before we know it we have just gassed ourselves into a depression.

It takes a whole lot of 1) awareness and 2) self control to recognize what is going on and then step back and away and put the device down, or stop the remote and turn off the television.

Last night, I didn’t figure it out fast enough. I should have stopped after the first John Oliver episode. I definitely should have stopped after Game of Thrones. I most certainly should have stopped after the first couple of minutes of Nymphomaniac: Volume 1.

But I didn’t and I paid for it.

There is a white cat stalking me along the shore. I was just working to get a picture of it, when it leapt about a foot in the air and swung around in a 360. It probably walked by a snake. Its a young cat. There are many many strays in this area. I met a different stray on my back porch earlier today, that I am naming Mister after the Dresden Files cat of the same name. My Mister is young as well and has a massive head and smallish body that hasn’t fully developed yet. Mister is always very hungry and when I have my screen door open on the porch to let in air, he walks up and meows at me from a distance. Mister could be a boy or a girl, I have no clue as I do not walk around sexing stray cats….


So I have my lesson for the day. I am feeling better for having learned something and for writing about it to raise the demon and put it down for good as well. I am going to make a better evening tonight and certainly not going to bring any Negative Nymphomaniacs in. I hope you join me in this and find a way to keep yourself positive and happy and find ways to identify the stuff that brings you down and then stop them before they do.

We can all do this on Facebook as well. First, we can stop endlessly scrolling. But more important, take sometime and simply talk to your friends there. I’m not talking about debating politics or debating in general. I’m talking about having a dialog with them about something important to either of you, something that isn’t politically important. Check in with them, see how they are doing. See what is happening in life, where they are going, what they are doing? See about catching up with them for a beer even, but don’t just hit the Like or emoji icons and scroll more moving on to your next miss.

Do yourself something good, talk to your friends!