Posts Tagged 'positive thinking'

Whose bad mood are you mirroring?

People who hang around together tend to vibe together. Moods and emotions are contagious. Your brain registers the emotional changes of people who are nearby, whether you are conscious of it or not.

Gary W. Lewandowski, Jr., in an article in Scientific American describes how the non-conscious mind mimics facial expressions of others. Mirror neurons record other people’s facial expressions and body movements and cause one to mirror the expression and posture. This triggers a similar emotional response.

When two people get together, who mirrors whom? In relationships of equality, it seems that moods would average out in most cases. My experience supports this notion.
Experience also tells me that relatively empathic people tend to mirror those with less empathy. And, it stands to reason that those with limited empathy are either not picking up emotional signals from others or ignoring those signals.

This can be bad news if you are regularly close to a controlling, manipulative, or even moody person with limited empathy. People with personality disorders that have little or no empathy tend to pair up with people who feel more empathy than the average.  So guess whose mood you end up reflecting?

Are you partnered with or related to a controlling or cranky person? Do you work for one? Take time away from them on a regular basis. Vamoose whenever they are in a horrid mood.   Most people can be cheered up, but if someone always drags you down, get out of Dodge!

If your boss is on the warpath, develop a sudden illness or a crisis to attend to.  If your angry husband needs therapy, have him call a professional.  Meanwhile, have some family crisis or work project that takes you out of his orbit for a while.  If your parent makes you feel blue, visit another time or at least get out of the room they’re in for a bit.

You might want to act as if they have a contagious disease, because…they do.

Are you a positive thinker or an optimist?

You might think that optimism and positive thinking are the same. They do overlap, but positive thinking has a negative side. By its very name, positive thinking buys into polarity thinking of pitting positive thinking against negative thinking.

Here is the practical difference. You are feeling discouraged. Perhaps your house is in foreclosure, you are being outsourced or your daughter has joined a cult. You are worried. You feel quite awful.

Your optimistic friend will talk to you about solutions; what might be done to help, how you might find a solution to the situation, why it might work out despite feeling awful right now. This optimistic friend’s thinking is positive, but he is not minimizing your worry and fear.

Your positive friend, on the other hand – the one in the new thought movement – is offended and upset by your worry and fear. This person is likely to tell you something like, “Just don’t give power to it!” Think positive thoughts and manifest the money/a new job/your daughter’s safety.
This person’s intense resistance to your “negativity” has already given power to it.  Jesus of Nazareth advised, “Resist not evil.”  I think he was talking about this very thing.  What you resist, persists.

Faced with her own negative thoughts, this friend may seem to have Tourette’s syndrome, barking, “Cancel! Cancel!” followed by a positive affirmation. Aside from making her look silly, a “cancel” command is…well, um, I hate to tell you this, but…it’s a negative thought.

This sort of exercise, if done without understanding, can do a good job of cramming the negative thought and feeling into the unconscious. Being conscious of unpleasant thoughts and feelings allows you deal with them and let them go. Repressing unpleasant thoughts and feelings keeps them around like unclaimed baggage.

Then the fun begins, as the negativity you ignore or repress pops up like a gopher and upsets or embarrasses you at inopportune moments. Repressed feelings cause you to binge eat or drink, and say things you are sorry for. They make you burst into tears or into a rage when you least expect it. If you are a fan of The Secret, you will wonder why you manifest unpleasant circumstances when you are such a positive thinker.

When you get right down to it, it is only the story we tell ourselves that determines whether our thoughts and feelings are negative or positive. You cannot manifest anything of lasting value at this superficial level.

But below the flow of energy we call emotions and our mental chatter about them, is an enduring state of connection and love. The more you let the emotions flow, feel them and let them go, the more you will experience that connection and love.

I’m positive.

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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