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Saturday, February 05, 2011

Positive Thinking Be Damned

I spit me of positive thinking! 

Yes there may have been something in it the way Norman Vincent Peale first wrote about it, but these days it is too often interpreted in the shallowest terms. It has become just another New Age wank. I am so sick of people who think everything can be solved by being all sweetness and light, in the face of absolutely any trial or trauma that may come along. It’s not always intelligent or appropriate.

I’m sure that a habitually cheery nature probably has a good effect on one’s health and wellbeing and eases one’s social relationships — or at the very least must make it easier to bear the vicissitudes of fortune. I do believe that gratitude is a powerful force that attracts more good stuff to you.  But here’s the rub — you have to mean it, it must be genuine. It doesn’t work when it’s a form of denial.

As I am always telling my clients and students, it’s no good stuffing a positive affirmation on top of a negative. The subconscious isn’t fooled for a moment. The example I use is: you say, ‘Oh I am so abundant!’ and your subconscious goes, ‘So how come you can’t afford those new tyres you need?’

You need to drag the negative thoughts out into the light of day first and have a look at them. Some are just things that float through the collective mind of the culture you live in. “All men are bastards’, ‘All politicians are crooks’, and so on. Them you can afford to dismiss. Say to those thoughts, ‘Thank you for sharing, you can go now.’ Others may be justified. If you really can’t afford new tyres that you need, better plan a way to have it happen rather than keep stewing in useless worry. And if it’s something that seems too big for you to deal with, you need to hand it over to a higher power. ‘OK mate, you fix this one; too big for me!’

I also believe in the old adage, ‘Trust in God and keep your powder dry / tether your horse’ — whichever version you were told. Or let’s put it this way: ‘God helps those who help themselves.’ We do have to do our bit. If a cyclone or a flood is coming, for instance, by all means hand it over to God; also you may well need to evacuate. (We have experienced both these events in Australia recently, so those examples spring to mind.) And if your commonsense or your intuition is giving you a warning, it might be more useful to take note than to ignore it in favour of thinking positive.

‘Don’t be so negative! We’ll find the money,’ says my beloved when he wants something we can’t afford. Yes, we very well might — but only if we budget for it. Spending beyond our income is not a good solution.  Running short of money is not a time to think positive, I reckon, so much as a time to pray. (And having prayed, then you can be positive enough to trust that your prayers will be answered, as indeed they always are.)

I’m particularly annoyed about this whole issue just now because a friend has cancer. It’s the second time she’s had it. I learned today that for some time she had been waking up in the night thinking that there was cancer back in her body, and everyone kept telling her, ‘No, it’s cured. Think positive’. So she put off going to the doctor. She is having treatment now, but would of course have preferred to catch it earlier.  As she said today, her body was trying to give her a message, and she was persuaded to ignore it.

‘Who told you that you were cured"?’ I asked, wondering if it was her doctors. She just repeated, ‘Everyone!’ So I am thinking she has a fair few New Age wankers around her. I mean, if someone told me they had such a worry, the first thing I’d say to them would be, ‘Well, get it checked out, if only to put your mind at rest.’

The next thing I’d say would be, ‘May I do some absent Reiki on you and ask your Higher Self what’s going on?’ I’m not allowed, by law, to diagnose, but I might find reason to say, ‘Yes, there does seem to be something the matter. It might not be what you think, but do get your doctor to have a look.’ I’m also likely to get a few clues about mental/emotional factors contributing to the problem, and could give the person something to work on at that level. Can’t hurt, could help. I would also, of course, continue with the Reiki to try and help heal the condition.

And if I didn't pick up anything? Then all I could say would be, 'Well, I didn't find anything alarming, but I'm not infallible. I think you should double-check with your doctor just in case.'

But really, what sort of friends would tell someone who had that kind of concern, someone who had previously had cancer, to just ignore it and think positive instead of getting medical advice?  I don’t at all understand that attitude.


  1. That is very strange advice for someone who has suffered from cancer in the past. I find it really hard to see why anyone would say that - even if they thought it was unlikely that you could sense it yourself. I'm glad she's having it treated now.

  2. I think perhaps they are looking after their own emotions (by sticking their hads in the sand) — pretty selfish!

  3. The positive thinking and action should have been taken by your friend, the troubled one. We draw on our own vibs, instincts,inspirations and connections with God.

  4. Perhaps you have missed the point of this post? She tried to follow the advice of well-meaning but misguided friends who thought she should be 'positive'INSTEAD of listening to her intuition and seeking medical help. She is now employing a positive attitude along with medical treatment. However both the attitude and the treatment would have been easier had she sought help earlier.

    Or perhaps you mean she should have taken a positive attitude to her own intuition? Yes, that would have been good!