Optimism is so much easier than pessimism–it’s more fun, more effective, more validating, more energizing, and closer to Awareness. When we’re jazzed up, people love us and want to be around us. We do more, and we do more with more energy and more enthusiasm and more flow.
We want to be positive but many of us live in a very negative internal world, and often we don’t even know it, until it brims over. Negativity demands attention—it builds up, like tornado and sucks us in. It is difficult to be present when we are full of negative thoughts and emotions. In negativity, we look for people to validate our negativity. Bad gets worse. The world in the meantime has no patience for this; it scolds us to be positive, upbeat, and enthusiastic—essentially telling us, look there are others with much worse problems so snap out of it.
To battle this uneasiness often we turn to positive thinking and all its cousins, like hope and affirmations and the law of attraction. We listen and talk about about how to be positive and optimistic and how to visualize the future we want, and how to manifest a proper reality for ourselves, and how we must have hope, and keep attention only on the positive, and how we must pray.
The essential truth is that positive thinking does not neutralize negativity.
Most of human pain is unnecessary. Pain comes to us in one of two ways. It is created in the past and lives on in the patterns of the mind and body. Or, it is created now as some sort of resistance or judgment of what is. Often, it is both. A thought of resistance to what is happening now energizes embodied patterns of the past, and the ego and pain-body work in concert to bring us compelling suffering. The more identified we are with the mind, the greater the pain.
In attempts to be rid of this uneasiness, we call upon ‘positive’ forces to go to battle with the negativity that is embodied in us. We call upon struggle and effort. We energize desires and we reach for control, security, approval and connectedness. We fervently search for some sort of meaning or purpose. We adapt beliefs in salvation in the future: we believe in an external God or the future promise of heaven or the power of prayer. We hope. We call upon spirituality or self-improvement or positive thinking or the law of attraction.
If there is resistance rising right now, don’t worry, I am not taking a stand against anyone’s cherished beliefs. There is no longer any need in me to be right or take a fixed position for or against a belief system. I really don’t know the truth about God or positive thinking or the LOA or spirituality, not in the conventional sense.
What I feel about these movements is that if we really want to know the truth, objectively, we must clear our minds. When we are afraid or we really want something, it is difficult to develop the gentle honesty we need to know truth. Truth is far, far simpler than any of these complicated and exhausting movements.
In my experience, it’s been much more effective to simply allow and accept and face up to the negative, and release it. I start with the simple recognition that whatever I perceive as negative is first just a mental judgment, and second, inside of me, never outside. Negativity always either rises from patterns embodied from the past, or it is some sort of resistance or judgment of the present. Anxiety, worry, fear, longing, depression—it doesn’t matter, I allow and accept completely, even lovingly, and then I ask myself if I can let go, and if I can let it go now, and then I let it go, and soon it’s not difficult to let go, and when enough negativity is let go, it’s not hard to see that it is my choice to create or not create further negativity for myself.
The most I can do with positive thinking or the Law of Attraction and similar practices, is to pretend to feel good for a while. The covered-up negativity doesn’t go away; it festers. Positivity is not something I can pretend to cultivate, but then again I don’t have to. When the negative is faced up to and released, what remains is positivity in loving abundance.
What if, instead creating these battles in the head, we just take a step back? What if we gently observe, and notice the mechanics of the mind, without analysis or judgment, and see how the mind continually creates unhappiness by resisting or judging what is? Noticing is when attention gently touches over thoughts without getting embroiled in them.
What if we accept the present moment as if this is exactly what we created and what we wanted, and see how non-resistance can transform life?
And what if, instead of going to war with unhappy emotions, we allow them, welcome them, even love them, and then release them?
And what if, we stop taking hard and fixed positions on beliefs? What if we say, I don’t know and I am completely comfortable with that? We simply “cease to cherish opinion.”
I am suggesting that the only reason we don’t face up to and release the hurtful past and fear and negativity in ourselves is because we are afraid that it may not be possible to do so. It’s not only possible, it’s really rather simple. (See How to release big and small emotions and see the books “Awareness and Release” and “Beyond’).
As the Bard said, “…there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” We don’t need to rouse up the forces of positive thinking and the search for meaning and all the complicated theories of existence and the bestest secret of getting what I want to go to battle with the negative. We can simply let negativity go.
A while ago I wrote Banish the Angst of the Law of Attraction, and I used a quotation from Gina Lake, and Gina just sent me an email about her book on the subject, as follows:
Thank you for posting my article on positive thinking and the problem with the Law of Attraction. I’m glad you’re offering such a well-written and thoughtful forum on this subject. My book “Anatomy of Desire: How to Be Happy Even When You Don’t Get What You Want” is on the subject of desire, and it presents a counterpoint to the Law of Attraction. It is self-published and available on Amazon.com and will be published by Hampton Roads in 2011. You have a lovely website and express your ideas very well. Blessings…Gina Lake (www.radicalhappiness.com)
Back to positive thinking, what do you think? Your thoughts please, positive or negative!