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Article updated 2018
‘I haven’t found a job in 8 months, but I know I will, it’s OK.’
‘I’m 45 and I’ve never had children and I have always wanted them. It’s OK, there’s still time.’
Positive Thinking is thinking.
It’s not feeling.
It’s merely a coping strategy.
And much to my frustration, depending on when and how we use positive thinking, it has the potential to rob us of our lives.
Because it’s not living. Thinking is not necessarily living.
Feeling and experiencing and opening to the realness of what’s actually happening IS living.
Opening to being vulnerable to people and to the moment is living, as it requires courage.
Positive Thinking is a form of thinking.
But even more damaging than that.
Positive Thinking is used as a way to Block things Out
Positive Thinking is often used as a way to block things out.
Eg: ‘We’ve been dating 8 months and he still has his dating profile up. I know I am probably worrying over nothing. But it is disrespectful, it almost hurts.’
Well, in this case, we’re not worrying over nothing. We are simply steering ourselves in the direction of avoidance of understanding of the man’s position, and therefore blocking ourselves from valuable time wastage and blocking ourselves from living our lives in a High Value way.
Worrying about his dating profile still being up is legitimate. It is a worry and we worry because it hurts. The worry isn’t a lie. Pretending we shouldn’t worry by diminishing our feeling doesn’t make us more alive. It just holds the hurt at bay.
But telling ourselves we’re worrying over nothing is a trick to keep us lazy and somewhat blinded.
To keep us from actually feeling anything.
And in some cases, it keeps us from seeing the truth.
The truth could be anything really, but a positive thought isn’t helping when our lives are not in danger and when we are safe in our own space to feel and practice empathy.
Positive Thinking could cost us our Relationships
There is positive thinking.
And then there’s presence.
Positive thinking can be about ourselves, or we can try to think positively for a mate or a friend, to try and stop them from stressing. In this way, positive thinking can be a gift at times.
But what about our presence and what about practising living as the other person? That takes a desire to want to understand the other person, rather than stay in our own little world of positive thinking.
What if the other person really just wants someone else to feel their pain? Maybe this kind of empathy is a higher currency than helping them to think positively.
Why try to help someone by positively thinking with them and for them, therefore minimising their emotional truths and intensity in the moment, when we can feel their pain with them?
But, what if Nobody is there for You if you start to experience Pain and Pleasure in Full?
I know you ask, BUT – who will be there for ME when I really, truly fall in to a heap of my emotions and who will pick me up?
I know, it is hard. But we have to start somewhere. It will be wonky at first. But we can’t encourage people to truly be there for us and not fake be there for us if our primary and only way – of dealing with things is to think positively.
If you feel positive thinking is really good still, that’s OK.
It works and should be used sometimes.
I just don’t like it as an all-round method of practise because again, it is used a lot not to make us more alive and to give us more empathy for the person we are positive thinking about. It also often isn’t used to help us actually move through a bad situation and ask ourselves;
‘How can I add value?’
‘What am I not seeing here about this situation?’
‘What are the needs of the other people involved that I am not empathising with here?’
Instead, it is used to keep our status quo of old emotions.
It does nothing but encourage our lazy patterns of not wanting to feel – feel about our own life and feel IN to other people and their world.
Use Positive Thinking when it is Valuable and Necessary
As for blocking things out and thinking positively to cope, in many situations, there just is no choice. So Positive thinking can really help. We can use positive thinking to keep the status quo when it’s necessary.
Perhaps we can’t feel our real emotions in a particular situation right now. Hence, we need to hold off until we feel safe, and positive thinking will help right now.
I can understand that, and I think it’s GREAT to use it then.
Positive thinking used from a Place of Fear…
I just don’t like using it from a place of fear.
Like any strategy, it doesn’t matter how good the strategy is, it can possibly backfire on us when we use it from a place of fear. That costs us our lives.
We can choose to LIVE or to have half-lives.
I respect that you and I were both probably encouraged to express positive emotions and not bad ones from our parents. A lot of parents seem to not want to deal with a child’s difficult and heavy emotions, as it scares them, too. As a result, we learned that Positive Thinking will ensure that the people around us will be more likely to keep liking us and stick around.
If we’re a positive person, then we get love. Right?
Well no. We might get approval and superficial acceptance. Not Love.
Because apparently, people don’t like dealing with people’s difficult emotions.
But I say that what we REALLY don’t like is people’s difficult emotions directed AT us, we don’t like people’s emotions creating a threat to our relationship with them, making us feel divided and separate, and making us feel as if we are the problem. Nobody likes to feel blamed.
But difficult emotions like fear, jealousy, rage, envy, hate…are ok. They are just emotions.
Speaking of bad emotions – Here’s why Positive Thinking is so damaging:
It’s because, if we reduce our responses to life’s situations to a set of positive thoughts, we inevitably block bad feelings and Real Truths out. And once we do THAT – we block out the Real Joys in life, too; because a habit of blocking things out isn’t automatically discriminatory.
As Brene Brown mentions in her talk on Vulnerability, when we numb pain, we also numb joy.
In other words, we can’t block bad stuff out and keep the good feelings in and experience THEM in full force.
We are stuck in a half life of ‘meh’ emotional states.
In THEORY we could CHOOSE to NOT block out the joys and to experience good things FULLY – but most of us aren’t that disciplined and conscious. We like to think we are, but we don’t have that much control over ourselves. Our old childhood patterns have been ingrained and reinforced and practices for far too long.
Ad so our biology ‘body memory’ as I like to call it, knows more about our well-used habits and goes straight to them, disregarding our apparent ability to exercise conscious choice.
This is especially true when we are in a fearful state; because that’s when we are really challenged.
My definition of Living
My definition of Living is to fully experience life with openness, not with fear. This openness means being our vulnerable selves. Not our half selves We have to be willing to open ourselves for real.
For example; instead of having intellectual discussions with a man because that keeps our emotions safe and contained, we actually act on the buried spontaneous desire to put on pink underwear and do a dance that follows no routine but our own silly moment of spontaneity. (NOTE: This is not a strategy to be used in EVERY scenario, it is good in some situations, but it may not be the best in your situation, I used it to give you an example of what I mean).
And to fully experience life, we must feel openly – that involves the body; our biochemical state (many people choose to use drugs to experienced an altered state), when we can experience any state we want to at any point if we choose to, without drugs).
Being open means NOT blocking out how our every chosen word, every chosen action, night hurt others, makes other hate us, or makes other more of a raving fan of us, and makes people around us feel like we are a gift.
We are always affecting others.
And the most important ones are the ones we already trust to some extent, and the people closest to us.
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Openness is not something you give to everybody
I talk about the value of openness and vulnerability. But A lot of people won’t like you for it anyway. There are plenty of people in the world who don’t understand it, don’t want to understand it, and would rather separate themselves from others. I think that is OK. We just need to learn that there are people we choose to give our presence and openness and vulnerability to, and there are people we don’t give it to.
Maybe we need to block out how some people affect us.
But everything we block out still lives inside waiting to be expressed somewhere.
Positive thinking is just thinking.
And more than that, it’s not even thinking.
Positive thinking can be a form of blocking out what is real.
While other people are experiencing life fully, what of us who block things out?
In the case of us who have always wanted children but our age makes it too late, we are denying ourselves the chance of truly feeling the pain related to not having children. And if we do that – what if it really IS too late? What if we have to feel THAT pain? Well, we don’t have much of a choice. We can keep blocking it out, and keep on that way until we die.
That is fine…if you choose to positive think about it, that’s fine. It has its consequences, and that is what I am trying to demonstrate in this article.
BUT – if you stay open and feel the realness of the ‘stuff’ behind the positive thought – that comes with consequences, too.
You just need to choose which consequence is better for you.
I just feel that sometimes, positive thinking makes my body and my emotions smaller. It’s unexpressed stuff going on in there and that makes me feel sick. But that’s me.
And what about the job seeker?
In the case of the job seeker who may YES, eventually find a job, what’s wrong with really feeling and letting it sink in that the reality is that no employer has picked them up yet, and for good reason? What’s wrong with opening to that reality?
If we opened to it, and felt the pain, at least then, we’d be free of the tension of positive thinking…and we open a path for asking ourselves a useful question, like, ‘so, what does the work actually look like fro the perspective of the boss of this company? What would this boss FEAR in the process of hiring and what would this boss LOVE and feel enticed by in a potential employee?’
If we open to that reality, then we can become more real, and more present, just a better and more relevant job candidate, and once we’ve felt the pain and the fear associated with the situation, it will be over; the emotions will be over, they always end at some point, and that will leave more free space in our hearts and minds for understanding and writing a compelling offer that actually compassionately adds value to the potential employer, instead of being so in to our own selves that we settle for ‘oh, somebody will hire me!’, which could cost us an entire year of our life, having no job and no income.
I believe this is true of positive thinking:
For most of us, it’s simply a tool for blocking out negative emotions; it’s actually a response out of fear. It’s not an open, full response.
And that PRACTICE of blocking real feelings out and labelling it ‘Positive Thinking’ can lead us to live an emotionally impoverished life because it’s merely a coping mechanism and not a way of truly living.
Do you believe in Positive Thinking? Do you use it? What do you think of it?
(By the way, I want to teach you 5 secrets to having your man fall deeply in love with you and beg you to be his one and only. These 5 secrets are inside of my brand new DVD, and right now it’s free. Click HERE to get yourself a copy before they run out!)
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