What? How could there possibly be a problem with positive thinking? Aren’t we supposed to use positive thinking to improve our lives and reach our goals? But first, what exactly IS positive thinking?
Ok, What Is Positive Thinking?
If we are feeling afraid, discouraged or the like, we might tell ourselves “I need to be more positive.” And this can work to an extent. It’s kind of like the “rah rah” approach. It might get us off the couch. But will it sustain us over the long haul? Or when the going gets tough?
Is positive thinking simply sticking a happy face on top of the mess and hoping to make it work?
We may try to psyche ourselves up by repeating affirmations and saying “I can do it.”
And like I said above, this can work to a point. By recognizing that we are afraid or discouraged and then trying to change it, we are are at least beginning to take some responsibility. But like anything else, we need correct information — whether it’s working out, learning a musical instrument or cooking a recipe.
When we’re trying to get rid of a feeling like discouragement or fear, we’re actually creating resistance. Resistance is pitting one thought-based-sense-of-self against another.
Place your hands in prayer position. Now push your hands together. This is resistance. There’s no movement. It’s stuck.
If you’re feeling afraid or insecure and you then try to think positively, the positive thinking has it’s roots in the insecurity. The more you try to think positively, the more you are resisting your fear. And as you’ve seen for yourself in the above exercise, this only holds your fear in place.
But the good news is, there is a solution…
The solution is allowing the negative feeling to be. Whatever it is — fear, insecurity, sadness, resistance, pride and wanting to control something or someone, etc.
Note: Yes. I know "allowing feelings" seems counterintuitive. Perhaps even scary! But actually, it’s not counterintuitive. It’s counter only to our conditioning. In truth it's in line with our intuition. Allow me to illustrate...
Think of a time when you were so upset that you couldn’t even think straight. The ability to reason was out the window. But somehow you got some time alone and just sat staring into space. Or maybe you were curled up in fetus position.
Eventually, it began to pass. Your mind began to slow down and you could actually think. You even had some glimpses of Light — although you may have rejected them because you wanted to stay in the dark.
My point is, you experienced a degree of “allowing” with your feelings. But this article is about doing so consciously.
Don’t try to change the feelings. Don’t try to modify it. Don’t try to cover it over with positive thinking. Don’t do anything to the feelings at all.
Instead, place your attention on the awareness that the feeling or state of mind is appearing in or on.
Just to be clear: When I say feelings, it includes the sensations in your body (usually somewhere in your belly or chest), the thoughts, labels or conclusions and images in your head.
Who or what is aware of the feelings arising in this moment?
Don’t try to answer this with words or your mind. It’s meant to point you to the silent field of awareness that is already there before, during and after every. single. thought.
Just by making this shift in perception, you’re beginning to realize that the feeling is not necessarily attached to you in any way.
Just allow it to be. Observe it without engaging in it. Continue to gently place your attention on your awareness.
Now ask yourself: “Could I allow these feelings to be here in awareness — just for now?” They ARE there — so, why not see what happens by allowing them to be? If only for a moment.
You’ll notice that you’ll start feeling lighter. The feelings won’t seem to heavy and in your face.
You can try following up with asking again: “Could I allow myself to welcome these images, thoughts, and sensations into awareness just for now? As best I can?”
Take a pause. Continue gently keeping your attention on your awareness.
Then you could ask “If I can allow these feelings to be here, then could it also be possible that I could let them go?”
If the answer is yes, you will definitely notice a shift. Feeling more space and lightness around the feelings. You can repeat the rounds of questions a few times if think you have more to release.
If the answer is no, that’s ok too. Just simply go back to allowing and welcoming the feelings as best you can.
Remember to keep your attention on the awareness.
One further question you can try that is very effective is: “ Am I this feeling? Or am I the awareness it’s appearing in or on?”
This will give you some space so that the feeling doesn’t run you. You’re becoming more aware of being aware.
Back To Positive Thinking...
Once you’ve learned to tap into the qualities of Awareness such as courage, Love and Peace you can go there directly.
For example, instead of using thought to try and be positive, you tap directly into Awareness or Beingness. It already is positive. Actually, It’s beyond positive and negative — but that’s another blog post for another time. It is the Light that gives thoughts any life. Without Awareness or Aliveness, thought would have no substance of it’s own. Investigate this for yourself over the coming days by watching your thoughts.
Start by allowing what is to be as it is. And then notice the Awareness that all content is appearing in or on. By placing your attention on Awareness, any negative thought patterns that may appear will no longer run you.
You won’t identify with them and think they are who you are. They are simply patterns of energy arising within and upon the Beingness that you are.
The more you practice this, the easier it gets. Eventually you’ll chuckle at many of the thoughts that come up that used to give you some grief.
Does This Mean Positive Thinking Is Bad?
No. The whole point I’m making here isn’t that positivity isn’t a good thing. Or that’s it’s not possible to be positive.
It’s this: You already ARE the positivity that you’re seeking. When you let go (allowing is the same thing as letting go) of identifying with negative feelings, you discover that you’re already free.
Then you don’t even need to think about positive thinking to counteract the fact that you identified with negativity in the first place.
When you connect consciously with Awareness on a regular basis, this becomes known to you — in a way that isn't intellectual or in words. You might even begin to have deeper and more sustained glimpses into the truth of who you are beyond name and form.
You will begin to see through the mind and it’s negativity. You no longer buy into it. At least not as easily. You aren’t trying to not buy into it. You actually see through it for yourself.
Remember to be easy on yourself if you get caught. Just keep practicing. Remind yourself that it's just like mastering a musical instrument or a new language.
The key to positivity is seeing through any apparent negativity and realizing that Love, Peace and Joy are already at the core.