Being Positive

I believe it is important to cultivate optimism and a cheerful, upbeat attitude.  In the last 20 years, the new thought movement has practiced this belief with a vengeance.

Positive thinking is… positively annoying when it is carried to extremes.

I realize this is heresy to many of the lovely, optimistic people I know.  But please, read on.  There is a danger to unbridled positive thinking.  It can have negative results!

Things happen that arouse negative feelings in us.  Everyone experiences frustrations, disappointments, losses, sadness, and hurt feelings.  Optimism can help us through these trials, but positive thinking does not make them go away.

On the contrary, ignoring our negative feelings keeps them with us longer.  I’m not suggesting that you dwell on your problems and make them more powerful than they are.  But, if you ignore them, you simply push the negative thoughts underground.  They get repressed in the unconscious.  This is not a good place to store your negative feelings.  The unconscious negativity will affect you in ways you do not expect.  The feelings will pop out at embarrassing moments and affect your behavior in strange ways.

Negative thoughts are only negative because we say they are.  In truth all feelings have important messages for us. If we ignore these “negative” messages, they will pop in surprising ways and scotch all our attempts to be positive.

When your gas gauge points to empty, you can ignore the negative thought it evokes and put a smiley face sticker over it.  Ignoring this important but negative message will ultimately make your experience more negative.  Instead of stopping for gas, you will run dry on the highway.

I am positive that I will be accused of being negative, but I am positively tired of being beaten over the head with other people’s positive thinking.  Optimism is very effective, interpreting all experience in constructive, encouraging ways.  But positive thinking that ignores negative feelings causes those negative feelings to be repressed.

For some reason, positive thinking proponents often take on the role of thought police.  Without much compassion, they will tell someone who is suffering, “Just don’t give power to it!”

I challenge you thought police out there (who are thinking right now about how negative I am,):  If you are truly a positive thinker, then why does my negative experience bother you?

I can tell you why.  When someone’s emotion seems negative to you, it resonates with your own negativity.  It makes you feel bad because of the feelings that are repressed.  My unhappiness wakes up your unhappy feelings.

If you want to be truly positive, you will feel your feelings – yep, all of them.  You will hear their messages, and let them go.  If you try this for a while, you will no longer tell a positive/negative story about your emotions – or mine.

Does my opinion bother you?  Just don’t give any power to it!

P.S.  Check out The Sedona Method, or Raphael Cushnir or even the recent work of Martha Beck for effective ways of dealing with stories and emotions.

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2 Responses to “Being Positive”


  1. 1 Sheila York January 14, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    Ruth, you are a genious! Love it…thank you…SY

  2. 2 Rita Daniels January 23, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    “Everyone experiences frustrations, disappointments, losses, sadness, and hurt feelings. Optimism can help us through these trials, but positive thinking does not make them go away.

    When someone’s emotion seems negative to you, it resonates with your own negativity. It makes you feel bad because of the feelings that are repressed. My unhappiness wakes up your unhappy feelings.”

    What an insight! The truth is we must express and learn from both our positive and negative experiences. And sharing them with others allows them to see the gifts of both.

    Thanks for writing such a powerful article with all of us.

    Rita


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