The Problem of Positive Thinking

I am watching a video with Eckhart Tollle and Wayne Dyer. A question about positive thinking has come up. I recall that I talked with someone about this, maybe wrote about this. I feel compelled to write.

In the story of my life, in that aspect of me called ego, identified with my form, when I was a Christian and that was a part of my identity, I was extremely depressed. I had spells of rage, probably because of that depression. I blamed God for all the things He didn’t do or provide. I isolated myself in my room, and glued myself to a computer screen. It should be obvious that in such a state I was not thinking positively. I am trying to think back, to remember how I was then. Because there was no thought that I was thinking positively or negatively. I just thought however it was I thought. I think I went from one thing that made me happy to the next. Constantly looking for things that made me feel better. But I never really thought about how I thought until now.

There came a time, years later, when I started to deal with my thinking. When I addressed my anger. My parents had started a home business, actually I think the first time was my dad. I had gone from living with my family, to living alone in an apartment, to moving in to my grandmother’s house. There, in 2008, things started to change.

Sometime after that my dad started his first business and something compelled me to work on the way I was thinking. I was tired I guess of thinking like I had been. I was tired of being angry and breaking my things. I found that book on lucid dreaming and became aware of other kinds of books outside the fantasy or science fictions stories I liked to read. I think my first positive thinking type book was Maxwell Maltz’s, “Psycho Cybernetics.” Found Dale Carnegie after that I think. The focus became using visualizations to change the way I felt and thought. I had a script for depression where I worked my way out of a swamp, climbing a mountain to a viewpoint at the top. I had a script for taking all the energy of anger and moving it from a volcano to a power plant.

I started training my parents, trying to get them to think differently too. That became a habit. If I caught them saying something negative I would bring their attention to it. I think it has had an effect, however, if you drive at a nail long enough, and if the nail is strong enough, and if you are strong enough in your pounding, you can put that nail through anything! But the change will be exterior, forced.

While I can not say for certain, my parents never made the interior adjustments, of their own volition, to effect any lasting change in them. I do not criticize or judge, I am commenting on what I observe, and this is what I think I see. They might catch themselves saying something negative every once on a while, but as far as I am aware their way of thinking is almost the same as it was all those years ago. However that is their game, their path, the things they have to choose then decide to work through. It is none of my business, I am now aware of this habit in me of correcting them, so I am making the needed changes in myself so that I no longer do that.

Just a few years ago I became aware of Advaita and teachers like Jeff Foster. Things changed again. I became aware of something called duality. The material I had been reading up to that point, and from that point to now, helped me to realize something important about positive thinking. It was brought home when I tried to read something by Robert Schuller. I got a few pages in and I realized how immature this way of thinking is.

The problem with positive thinking is that it is another extreme. If you think negatively, you are at one extreme. If you think positively, you are at another. Somehow you have to be able to allow yourself to feel how you feel, and think how you think, no matter to which extreme your thoughts may go. Part of loving and accepting yourself as you are, which I learned from Louis Hay, is loving and accepting how you are thinking, right now, in this moment.

Jeff Foster taught me the process of Admit, Allow and Accept. As I recall, Thich Nhat Hanh taught me No Attachment, No Aversion, along with Sunyata (Emptiness), Alakshana (Signlessness) and Apranihita (Aimlessness) AKA the Three Concentrations. That paper, put on my ceiling, so many years ago, remains today, though other papers have been added or taken away during my growth process. I likened it to Jesus’ teaching of, “Consider the lilies…”

The Highest Alignment or Highest Vibration state, to use what I am learning from Abraham and Seth, is to apply these to your thought processes. Allow yourself to think freely. Admit whatever it is you are thinking. Accept these thoughts. I see this as embracing them and then letting them go. Do not become attached to them, or adverse to them. If you try to control your thoughts, from being negative to positive, it means you are automatically  and judging them. Ultimately you are criticizing and judging yourself. You can not love and accept yourself as you are if you are criticizing and judging yourself every time your thoughts are not what you want. You can not love and accept others until you love and accept yourself!

Effort or force is not required. Changing the way you think requires effort, it is something you try, so it becomes something you do. Drawing from what Tolle has taught me, you are cementing yourself in time. There is this idea you will be happy, at some point in the future, when your thoughts are positive and completely under your control. So you will never be happy. Happiness becomes a carrot on a stick for you.

“Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not…” The Three Concentrations. Rowing your boat downstream. All meaning the same thing. The solution is not found in the effort. You can’t get there from there. Trying to make yourself think one way or another will bring more of the thoughts you were working so hard against. Better to work with where you are now, at this point in your life.

At this time you may be completely oblivious to these words. Your mindset just doesn’t allow you to become aware of teachings like this until you are ready. But if you have found these words, and are reading them, then you are ready for them. If not, they will be right here, in this form, or somewhere else, from someone else, in another form, waiting for you.

The Abraham teachings show us how our thoughts affect how we feel. If we feel bad, we are likely thinking bad thoughts. If we feel good we are likely thinking good thoughts. The practice then is one of awareness, just as Tolle and others teach. Learning to become aware of how we feel so we know how we are thinking. Learning to become aware of our thoughts. Then applying the Admit, Allow and Accept process to what we are thinking.

We no longer fight our thoughts and the way we are thinking. Instead we become martial artists with our mind, and use its power against it. Not in an effort to defeat the mind. The mind is not our enemy. That is our interface between who we really are and our brain. But to effortlessly free ourselves from the control of the mind. From being controlled or directed by our thoughts. From our thoughts throwing us from one extreme to the other. Because remember our thoughts affect how we feel. So freeing ourselves from the mind’s control allows us to enter a place or state where, as the Advaitist’s teach, we become the ocean, not something tossed about on the waves. Or to use Tolle’s words, we become an aware presence.

In short, there are still thoughts, and there are still feelings from these thoughts, but we are no longer attached or engaged with them. They no longer have the power over us as they once did. We can allow our thoughts and feelings to come and go, being fully aware and conscious of them. We can use whatever is coming and going through our awareness as a sort of compass to see where we are at at any given moment in time. If we have something we would like to accomplish, something to manifest, we can track down any resistant thought to its habitual pattern or belief, then apply the Admit, Allow and Accept process to that, releasing that belief and letting it go. Seeing it like a visitor that has been with us for many years, but now it is time for them to head home, so we gently usher them out the door.

The positive thinking teachings have their place. If you are mired in the other extreme of negative thinking, as I was, you can use that to dig yourself out. But just remember that it is only another extreme. It places you firmly in the grip of duality. Because where there is negative there must be positive, and where there is positive there must be negative. If one mind state exists, the possibility of the other mind state also exists. One state reinforces the other. The more focused we are on the mind state we do not want, the more of that mind state we will have and find others around us have. The practice is one of no attachment, no aversion, to either mind state.

This also means you will be more natural or whole. This is very hard to explain, but there is a sort of artificiality to the positive thinking people. Everything has to be positive all the time. There is no room for things associated with negativity. Someone dies, you have to be positive. You can’t feel sad about it. You loose your house, you have to think positive! Now death is not something to be sad about, still it is the tendency of most humans to mourn.

Anything negative that happens can be seen as a blessing, an opportunity or a chance tor practice. You can’t utilize the whole feeling and thinking spectrum if you are intently focused on one extreme. If you are able to allow negative thoughts, and release the need to have only positive thoughts, you free yourself to feel what you feel and think what you think. You can be Authentic and Honest with yourself. You allow yourself to love and accept yourself as you are, no matter what you are feeling or thinking.

This is what Abraham calls moving downstream. Trying to think in one extreme or the other is rowing upstream. You can’t get there from there. You have to turn the boat around and go downstream. You have to be able to take whatever feeling or thought arises, in each moment, and allow yourself to feel that, to think that, yet at the same time not become attached to it or identify with it, also not to be adverse to it, or run away from it. In this way you use the mind’s energy of producing constant thoughts against itself by freeing yourself of your normal tendency to be caught up in whatever yo are feeling or thinking. If you not longer are attached to or identified with your feelings and thoughts, they no longer have power over you. You are free to choose your response to any feeling or thought that arises.

The kind of thinking you have is not important. But becoming aware of your thoughts on a moment-by-moment basis and learning how to work with them is.

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