If one has read anything do with self help or come across one of the primary figures in the industry, they will have heard of the term ‘Positive Thinking’. This is nothing new and has been around for many years.
In 1952, Norman Vincent Peale published the book - The Power Of Positive Thinking. And then as time went by, this idea was turned into a whole industry. There are numerous books and people that espouse this outlook.
Affirmations are also commonly used in the same way; with all kinds of books and figures recommending them. And then there is something known as the ‘Law Of Attraction’ that has exploded in popularity thanks to certain books and DVDs.
As positive thinking is so popular and has been around for quite some time, it would be natural to see it as normal and the right thing to do. The general human tendency is to avoid pain and to seek pleasure.
So to think positive can assist in this aim and allow the mind to deny and change what the body is emoting and feeling. This will then enable one to see themselves and life in a different way.
Through this process, one’s behaviour can change and result in them having new experiences.
While we all have a brain that thinks, we also have a body that feels, emotes and senses. But due to things like trauma and pain that can build up in the body, one can become stuck in their brain (head).
This can be the result of trauma and pain that was experienced in childhood or in later life. And if this pain becomes too much, it is natural for ones consciousness to remain in the mind.
Here, different defence mechanisms can be used in order to keep this pain at bay. If they were not used, it would be too much and one could die from the overload.
Even though this pain may well have become repressed and locked in the body, it won’t just stay there. The body wants to release this pain and heal itself, but the mind will generally want to avoid the pain.
However, the pain will become known through numerous ways. This can lead to: inner restlessness, negative thoughts, depression, illness, loss, dysfunctional relationships, mental and emotional problems, reactive behaviour, addictions, obsessions and many others things.
The mind has done all it can to keep the pain away, but these can all be signs that the body is what needs to be looked at and not just the mind.
This focus on the mind and the rejection of the body is not something that just happened. And while positive thinking has a time and a place, it has become the primary focus. The body is often overlooked and ignored.
As I have said above, when too much pain is created in the body it is then normal for one to live in their head. So it would make perfect sense to say that part of the reason positive thinking has become so popular is due to people having so much pain in their body.
And is a natural consequence of people becoming estranged from their: emotions, feelings and sensations.
A sense of empowerment and personal power is gained through being grounded in the body. This is where actions come from and without action very little happens. The mind can think as much as it wants and come up with all kinds of fantasies and illusions, but that doesn’t make it reality.
So it would seem odd that in a day where people want to be empowered, that they are not embracing the body and are choosing to live in the mind.
But it would also be completely inaccurate to say this was a conscious choice. If one has a negative relationship to their emotions, then avoiding them would be normal and natural. This is a relationship that is typically formed in ones childhood.
If one had a caregiver that was empathic and therefore emotionally available, it would have resulted in one being emotionally regulated as a child. This means they would have been: validated, soothed, mirrored and touched during emotional unrest or unease.
Two things can occur through this process. One is that one will learn how to regulate their emotions or feel safe enough to seek assistance. And the second thing is that they won’t have to repress their emotions.
When it comes to the unempathic caregiver, the above is unlikely to take place. This means that one will not learn how to regulate their emotions or feel safe enough to ask others for assistance. One will also end up having to repress their emotions.
Now, for some people this will have included emotions that were slightly painful, but not any where near the other end of the spectrum. And for others, this would have been emotions that were extremely painful and even the result of abuse or trauma.
But one thing is certain, if one did not form a healthy relationship with their emotions as a child, then avoiding them is going to be vital. This means the mind is going to be kept extremely busy in trying to block these out.
And positive thinking or affirmations will need to be constantly applied in order to continually repress these emotions and feelings.
This can easily turn into an addiction or an obsession, as to stop thinking positive could cause all kinds of repressed emotions to appear. And as they have been repressed for so long, they could be extremely powerful and overwhelming.
This is not to say that positive thinking should be avoided, but it does mean is that it may be necessary to look a little deeper. To see what is going on in the body and what has built up there.
As when the body is in a place of peace, the mind will often follow suit. If there is conflict in the mind, there is probably conflict in the body. And as one releases what has built up in the body, the need to think positive will not be there as much – simply because there won’t be as much going on.
In the short term it may be more painful to deal with ones repressed emotions and feelings, but the long terms benefits will outweigh the short term pain. This is not something that has to last forever.
And it may be important for one to seek the assistance of a therapist or healer who will allow one to release their emotions in a healthy and supportive way.
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 25 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.