Tag Archives: like attracts like

Think Positive!

Or don’t. There is no tidy, one size fits all and solves everything answer to anything, ever. That assertion is one of my key bits of dogma, along with ‘shit happens’ and ‘there are always choices of some sort.’ Positive thinking can be really helpful. It can carry you through challenges, inspire you to do better, it can nourish, uplift and enable. You probably know that because the productive power of positive thought is rather self announcing. It may require effort and minor discomfort, but when it works for you, the payoff always makes that feel reasonable.

There are times when positive thinking doesn’t work. I‘ve got some examples from my own life which I can talk about easily, but no doubt there are other forms and manifestations out there, too. Sometimes, positive thinking is a trap with really sharp and pointy teeth.

Looking for the best in things, and in people, being upbeat and hopeful that things will get better, and that everything happens for a good reason and that there are life lessons to learn… I tried that in one context. I tried it for years, and it helped me do the following. I was able to stay positive about the way in which my life was getting ever narrower. I was able to work with the increasing demands being placed on my body, and on my emotional self. I learned how to roll with the knock backs, the put downs, and the physical pain. I saw the best, and I encouraged it, and in so doing I made it really easy for all the shit around me to continue. I was so busy being positive that I did not challenge over the negatives, protect my boundaries, deal with the massive problems in my life and I was not happy.

Only when I let myself admit that it had all gone to hell did I make the choice to get out, and only on getting out of that situation did my life stop going downhill exponentially and start improving. Sometimes, a hearty dose of negativity, failure, and giving up will save your life.

Then there’s the one that I pick up more casually, in the flows of online conversation. Those friendly ‘think good thoughts and you will attract good stuff to you. Be positive and you will heal. Your own negative energy is what’s getting you down and making you sick.’ I am not (I am encouraged to think) to speak of the stuff that depresses, frightens or ails me because that’s dwelling on the negative and will bring more negative energy into my life. The reason it has fallen apart for me before is clearly that I’m not positive enough (see above, if only I’d tried harder!). But when you’ve given your all and it wasn’t enough, and your body is just plain ill, and you need the human relief of speaking about the things that hurt… other people waving the power of positive thinking can be a bloody alienating experience.

Which is interesting, when you stop and think about it. The whole New Age think positive attract good stuff philosophy is supposed to be inherently good. It’s supposed to make everything better. How can something that is good have the effect of alienating, depressing and feeling like an attack if you are in a vulnerable place? The measure of a philosophy is what it actually does, and if a big part of what it does is knock people down, then it’s not a benevolent philosophy, no matter what it claims. So here’s The Real Secret.

Shit happens.

Sometimes we bring that upon ourselves a bit, sometimes we don’t.

Sometimes we can fix it, sometimes the best answer is to quit.

Some things you will get over in your own time, others less so. Your attitude may have a role in this, but there are no guarantees. It is ok not to get over things if you are, for whatever reason, not able to get over them.

There are always choices. Sometimes none of those choices are good ones.

Sometimes there is no win, but only the person who quits is definitely beaten. Sometimes quitting is the only thing that can save you.

Shit happens, because the universe is a big place with a lot of different stuff going on and most of it isn’t personally aimed at you, whether that shows up as good stuff or disaster,

Shit happens, and when we are gentle with ourselves and each other and don’t use philosophy as an offensive weapon, the shit is a tad easier to bear.

The power of expectation

One of the memes that crops up in many New Age lines of thinking is that we get what we look for, and like attracts like. Certainly, you are going to have a hard time seeing something you don’t believe is there. Yesterday I was exploring the way in which negative people are often acting in ways intending to reinforce their own world view. I want to follow on from that today. Not thinking so much about the implications of believing, or not believing in fairies and angels here. More about what we believe of ourselves and the world.

It’s so easy to manufacture the experiences that confirm expectations, without necessarily being conscious off the process. Back in my teens there was a boyfriend who had been through some awful stuff and didn’t really think anyone cared about him, as a logical consequence of this. If anyone got too close, he’d become increasingly demanding, difficult and challenging until he forced them (and in my turn, me) to give up and walk away. Thus he kept confirming his belief about his relationship with the whole of reality. Eventually, I gather he got his head straight enough to give someone a chance. There’s nothing like believing you are unlovable to make it hard for those around you to manifest care.

How many such beliefs are we all lugging around? I’m conscious that I may be viewing the world as more hostile than it inherently is. I don’t see the New Age reality of benevolence and love, I see something that is at best, neutral. As a consequence the odds of me recognising an experience of benevolent angels, for example, are pretty slim. I probably wouldn’t notice them until they bit me on the bottom, by which point they wouldn’t seem quite so benevolent anyway… What else have I got? I don’t know, but I’m looking.  I don’t want to be at the mercy of my own unconscious misapprehensions if I can help it.

How much conflict in life comes from the clashing together of stories and beliefs on this personal level? The person who assumes they won’t be believed, and who consequently stays silent. The person who believes they are inherently unacceptable and so has to keep acting out until they find what you can’t tolerate. The person who cannot believe anything good, kind, altruistic or generous really exists so will keep imagining terrible, hidden motives to explain the compassion their reality has no space for. How many people are lugging round a unique reality and bludgeoning other people with it as a consequence?

None of us has a perfect view of self or wider reality. We all have blind spots and illusions, and I suspect that’s just one of those things about being human. We also have differences of opinion such that my functional reality may seem like crazy fantasy to other people. It’s just as dangerous to assume you are right as it is to default to the assumption that you are wrong in this.

We find out where the issues may be when two incompatible realities are banged together. How to tell which is real? Am I the ungrateful, demanding, unreasonable one, or is what I want normal, and is the other person a lazy slacker who does not know what decent behaviour looks like? We won’t ever figure that out by looking just at the two people involved. Wider context tells us a lot about how we fit in elsewhere. I’m wary of taking ‘normal’ as a measure for anything because it’s so flawed. In a room full of killers, the mass murderer is pretty normal, after all. But if only one person finds us wildly unreasonable and nobody else does, that’s certainly indicative.

The more diverse a pool of people we can draw on for this, the better. How does my work self compare to my social self, my parent self, my pagan-gathering self? Am I getting the same kinds of responses across the board? How do I feel about the people I clash with? Do I respect them and want to respond to the clash, or do I think they are idiots? Where do I want to fit? These can be useful measures, although if we are the killer in a room full of killers, metaphorically speaking, conforming to peer standards may be letting us stay in a crappy place and resisting opportunities to grow.

Someone too entrenched in their own sense of self importance will never be able to make a good assessment in this regard. Someone who cares more about seeming right than being right, will never be able to explore to see if their relationship with reality is faulty. If you can ask, and seriously consider whether you’re going the wrong way, there’s every reason to think you can also consider the issue well. Doubt and self questioning are vital tools. Self belief is also necessary to sanity. There’s a balance to strike, but if you aren’t looking for it, you won’t find it.