There is a huge movement in the realm of self-help that says that we ought to 'think a positive thought' and while there is a part of me that agrees with this philosophy, I have more to say about it.
I am taking a course right now -- a self-development sorta course -- I love this shit, I always have. I was a young 23 or 24 when I took my very 1st raw-raw weekend course; I was by far the youngest person in the room back in those days. I loved this stuff. I became a fully certified life-coach by the time I was 25 and at 21 I was already coaching women and men one on one -- I love this work.
I loved vision boarding.
I loved manifesting.
I believed at my core that all human beings have the right to a happy, fulfilled and experience an abundant life. There was no other way in my mind's eye. I was "glass half full" and when my thoughts creeped into other hidden doors in the room of my mind, I quickly locked them out and boarded up the door -- never to be entered again.
I loved the positive. I ignored the shadow. I thought 'happy' was to be attained and 'sad' was to be avoided and I had the tools I needed to do this, I had learned them in the self-development courses I was taking and the endless books I was reading. All I had to do was program my brain to think differently. I had to imagine my life successful, I needed to use words that were infused with positivity and I certianly had to ensure that the boarded doors in the rom of my mind stayed "off limits" -- but that was going to be easy.
It was simple. I was going to change the world and be rich.
That line of thinking led me to my first major adult melt down/spiritual crisis ... whatever you want to call it. At 25 years old my whole inner world crumbled along with all belief structures I had bought into and of course my rose coloured glassed shattered as all the doors in my minds eye that were clearly boarded off and marked "keep out" busted open. I was left with more than what I knew how to handle, it was not just my carefully curated thoughts that matched my vision boards and homework from my seminars -- but the ugly thoughts, the dark stuff and the reality that we have less control than we may want to imagine.
Was the goal 'being' or 'doing'? I quit coaching at this time for I had no idea what to tell people for the system I had bought into wasn't working. I had learned conditional self-love -- I was loveable if I was manifesting and "in the flow" -- of course this meant I was unlovable all of the rest of the time... which is most of the time.
I'm 32 now, almost 33, I have explored this concepts intensely for almost 8 years -- it has been my mission to find the balance of the 'being' vs. the 'doing'. How much of life is designed for us mortals to create a vision and a goal and go the fuck after it? And, how much is meant for us to surrender into what is meant to be.
There is a balance.
I do believe in the power of our thoughts, our ability co-manifest and our need to cultivate a positive disposition. No one wants to be around a negative Nancy and there is a difference between swimming in our shitty stories and processing our pain.
I think the danger of this imbalanced "only think the positive" mindset is that we get lost in a spiritual fascism where we fail to recognize the duality of our human emotions. Looking bigger picture of course, there is only one -- there is no duality, but when we look closer at the parts that comprise the whole we see it's opposites. Us humans sort of require this in order for us to have deeper understanding -- example: we need dark to understand light, we need the bitter of a lemon to understand the sweet of a strawberry. We live in a weird culture -- at least in North America -- that has learned not only to avoid darkness but to fear it and misunderstand the lessons that can be learned from it. We collectively can not see the divinity -- we don't want anger, we don't want to feel sadness or depression; we want to "program the mind", label it anew and skip off into the sunset while all the parts of our personally (and selfishly) made visions manifest into our reality and we just live in a big fat blissful fucking circle.
Although it was 25 that I had my first breakdown with all of this, it was not until I turned 29 that I actually started to explore the darkness. ** note: when i say darkness I am not referring to the dark and evil forces of the world -- I am talking about the shadow side of being human, the shitty feels I was experiencing. Rather than running away, numbing, hating, hiding, suppressing -- I choose to get still and look at the shit that was surfacing. I chose to find the divinity in it, I chose to allow the authenticity of who I am to bubble up and become visible so that I may heal. Mostly I did this becasue holding all the doors shut in the room in my mind was too much work and I was quiet frankly exhausted.
The most bizarre thing happened in this process -- as I got more real, my path became clearer and funny enough it is actually the path I have always hoped for. Some of the things I tried to manifest at the ripe age of 24 and 25 fell to the sidelines, many of which were the things that were only self-serving and failed to serve the whole.
Most importantly what has happened for me in the pursuit to find the divinity in darkness is that I have fallen in love with who I am. My self-compassion is not conditional. I am not afraid to open any of the doors in my mind room -- they don't scare me anymore becasue I have come to a place of peace knowing that neither the light or the darkness are favourable or something to avoid. They are but experiences of this human journey and both have unique messages if we could only calm the fuck down, surrender into the bigger plan and listen.
So, YES I think there is a balance.
I show up every single day in my life with full intention. I am getting better and better as the days pass at honouring myself -- you know, doing things like waking up 2 hours earlier before another full day of this seminar to ground myself via writing this... yes, I wanted sleep. But I knew this was right for me. I didn't do this in hopes of becoming a famous blogger -- although that would be sweet -- I did this becasue it's good for my damn soul. It's that simple. I agree with some of the elements of programming the mind and creating a healthy mindset -- but I also know that part of uprooting some of the weeds of the mind -- the thought patterns that serve is not -- require that we look -- that we truly and completely see what is going on and feel all the wounds and the pains and allow them to teach us what we need to learn.
Positive thinking is a beautiful medicine but not when it is taken at the expense of feeling the full range of what it means to be human. Being human is colourful and we have a very real shadow side that is begging is to see it, feel it, forgive it, offer it compassion and ultimately fall in love with it.
Don't deny how you feel. Learn to nourish the places you are at for you will find contentment in this -- is there anything better?