Positive thinking can be good, and confidence in your own abilities can be good… some of the time.
Sometimes, however, like in the case of the student driver pictured above, those qualities are not all they are cracked up to be.
Sometimes, what you really want is caution, and that’s why I want to talk about negative thinking today… but in a positive way.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently while I’ve been strapped into the passenger seat of the Volkswagen that my daughter has been using to learn how to drive.
No, that is not her in the picture and, thankfully, that is not our car.
Maggie has been driving just long enough now to have good control of the car while there aren’t many distractions so she is at the dangerous stage where she might be tempted to think she has got this driving thing figured out.
Sure, I want her to be confident in her growing abilities but I also want her to be aware that not everything that happens while she is driving is under her control, so I’ve started preaching the benefits of negative thinking.
She will never be a perfect driver – none of us will – so she always has to be focused on what she is doing, and I want her to drive defensively so that she is always anticipating possible hazards even if they are not likely to occur.
Kids running out from behind parked cars, drivers turning without indicating, brake lights not working, self-absorbed gits opening car doors into her lane; that sort of thing.
Yes, it is negative thinking, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.
And that’s my point today; negative thinking does not always mean bad thinking, sometimes it is just what is needed to balance positive thinking.
When we have a well defined job to complete and we know how we want to do it, a positive attitude can help us achieve our goal.
Sometimes, however, like in the case of a football defender or keeper our mission is simply to stop someone else from accomplishing his goal.
That’s the kind of thinking that would dominate a father’s mind if he woke in the middle of the night to the sounds of someone breaking into the house.
He wouldn’t know what he was going to do but he would be determined to stop anyone from hurting the wife and kids… and, if possible, from stealing the TV.
Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting it would be wise to think in this negative, defensive way all the time… even if that is what the insurance industry would like us to do, I’m just saying it is the correct way to go… some of the time.
At home we have to protect our families and while we are driving we have a responsibility to our passengers and to all the other people on the roads to drive safely and cautiously and to be ready to react in time when someone else makes a mistake.