Positive thinking is increasingly encouraged amongst the New Age community. Law of attraction has essentially become the gospel for a large portion of spiritual seekers. In an increasingly volatile world where’s the harm in a little hope? Let me explain the problem with Positive Thinking.
Positive Vibes Only
Let’s start with this common catch phrase that has basically become a modern mantra. I’m not gonna lie and tell you I’ve never embodied that attitude because I value authenticity over image. When I was in a really dark time almost 8 years ago I did have to create that boundary. If this is what YOU need in this moment, skip the following paragraph because as a temporary survival mechanism it makes absolute sense. We can only tread so much water and sometime we are so busy drowning in our sea of darkness that we can’t bear the burdens of others. However, if you really just can’t be bothered by things that make you uncomfortable or look at yourself, please read on.
You can’t live a balanced life and focus only on one aspect of reality. Life can be exceptionally difficult at times and if you avoid everyone who is struggling you’re going to end up isolated and eventually become who you sought to avoid. You can’t speak of being an empath and not show empathy. Unfortunately part of connection with other people is the eventual hardship, disagreement or down day. So if you want to have authentic friendships, you have to understand it’s not always going to be sunshine and rainbows.
We live in confusing times. Consider the irony of focusing on authenticity while spiritually bypassing a large portion of reality. Given the lack of personal accountability in our culture this shouldn’t be surprising. Sometimes though peoples belief in their own bullshit can be contagious. What does authenticity even mean anymore?
Authenticity to me is a mixture of personal accountability, self awareness, honesty, and the ability to show up in a real way. If you are constantly repackaging your entire existence with positivity you are perpetually getting further from authenticity. This also creates a feedback loop. As you move further away from reality, reality will be more and more disturbing to you, pushing you further away from it. How do we avoid the delusional event horizon of positive thinking?
Other Forces at Play
Next we move onto a large oversight in the positive thinking community. The problem with positive thinking is it fails to acknowledge any other forces outside of your own mind. Which, For a community so hell bent on “losing their ego”, this seems to be pretty saturated in ego. It’s also in complete defiance to reality. If our thoughts were the only factor in creating reality then we would be to blame for every horrible thing that exists. This leads me to the next part of the problem with positive thinking.
Blaming the Thinker
Proponents of Law of Attraction are apt to tell you that your lack of belief in a better outcome is what created the current state of affairs. Yikes, talk about adding insult to injury. I personally believe this is where Positive Thinking becomes weaponized. On top of struggling with a difficult situation people are shamed into believing their belief structure created that outcome.
Let’s look at a few situations where this could be incredibly harmful:
- Mental Illness
- Domestic Violence
- Mental abuse
I fully accept these are extreme examples but they illustrate the problem with positive thinking. It’s just easier to clearly see the disconnect from reality.
Solving the Problem with Positive Thinking
The simple answer to the problem with positive thinking is honesty and action. So much of modern spirituality is built on the premise of microwave solutions and overnight miracles. Which makes sense in a capitalistic culture built on convenience and always looking to sell you the concept of lack. However the truth is often that we have to do the work to live a better life, not just talk or think about it.
So many people use positive thinking as a way to avoid the reality of a situation. By doing so they are ignoring the wisdom and opportunity in an unfiltered look at their actions. I’m not suggesting that we verbally abuse ourselves with introspection but rather that we aren’t intimidated by having an honest conversation with ourselves our others.
We need to mature our ideas of what positive thinking actually is. Going forward this is the way I chose to see it. The objective of positive thinking isn’t to only say or think positive things. Positive thinking is the ability to compassionately speak the truth with confidence despite the consequences.