I have recently been re-reading some of Roald Dahl’s stories with my seven year old son, and hooting at the antics of that rather repulsive couple, The Twits. I couldn’t help thinking though what kind of life Mrs Twit might have had if she had gone through a course of Thrive when she was younger.
Now Mrs Twit had a ‘fearful ugliness’. But as Dahl was quick to point out, she was not born ugly, she had actually had a nice face when she was younger. She had grown uglier the older she got, and Dahl had a very profound explanation for this. He wrote:
“If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until it gets so ugly you can hardly bear to look at it.
“A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”
Now Mrs Twit is a particularly repulsive character being used by Dahl for comic effect, but his words are very wise and we would do well to remember them in the context of the Thrive programme. When someone walks into my office who has all the physical attributes of a successful attractive person, yet their whole body language and spoken language is negative and depressive and cloaked in failure and doom and ugliness, then I just know that their mismanaged ugly thoughts are compelling them to don their ‘ugly’, ‘shit-tinted’ spectacles. When turned onto one-self, these shit tinted glasses can have significantly negative effects on the way you feel about yourself, the way you feel about other people, and ultimately about the way you feel about life as a whole.
As we all know and experience at times, the more negative you feel about life, the more difficult it seems to extricate yourself from that downward spiral. As Lyobomirsky and Tkach (2004) so eloquently put it in their research, – “Numerous studies over the past two decades have shown that repetitive ruminations about the implica
tions of one’s depressive symptoms actually maintains those symptoms, impairs one’s ability to solve problems, and ushers in a host of negative consequences.”
The younger, prettier Mrs Twit had so many ugly thoughts about herself and life in general, that her self esteem only allowed her to marry a man she thought she deserved – the ‘foul and smelly’ Mr Twit. And together they perpetuated each other’s ugly approach to life. Their only ‘joy’ in life was to play cruel and disgusting tricks on each other.
Poor Mrs Twit. You can only imagine how her younger, prettier self may well have once dreamed of leading a happy life. But for those caught in a whirlpool of negativity and stress and anxiety, any chance of happiness can only seem like an increasingly unattainable concept. And once on that slippery slope it is easier to just keep slipping down into a depressed and self-flagellating pool, than it is to stand tall and fight it.
And so you get caught in the vicious circle of unhappy, negative, depressive thoughts, feelings of powerlessness, feeling physically and mentally tired, anxious, stressed and unable to cope, and too weak and unmotivated to do anything about it. As a result your immune system is weakened, and opens you up to every bug and virus going. (Anybody who wants to look into the mind-body connection need just Google psychneuroimmunology, PNI).
So don’t be a Mrs Twit and let those ugly thoughts take control and ruin your life (and looks!). You can be powerful over your own thoughts, and the Thrive programme is uniquely positioned to make you understand why, and how you can take control.
If you want to find out more about the Thrive programme and how it can help you and those you love, you can by following this link http://www.thriveprogramme.org.
Thrive Consultant and Blogger