Sure, seeing the sunny side of thing helps to put unpleasant things in perspective. But when something really bad happens, or if you’re struggling with issues that were buried deep, it only confuses us.
Positive thinking is the paddling pool of enlightenment. It works just fine to see the sunny side of things, or to pot unpleasant things in perspective, but if something really bad happens to you (or you’re struggling with issues that were buried deep), it only brings confusion. If you’re having a hard time, and having trouble to turn something that’s bothering you into something positive, you’re not ready for it. You want to be the healed, enlightened, balanced expert, when you haven’t really started to work on things. It’s like taking a shortcut that will undoubtedly lead you astray.
Chaos in your mind
Replacing something by positive thoughts will only make your mind more chaotic. From the level of thought, you can’t improve anything: it’s like adding an extra layer of shiny paint on a rotten windowsill. What we need is the courage to feel and experience. The insight that it brings you will last, transform and build up.
Severely judging your own thoughts and feelings because they’re not ‘enlightened’ or ‘spiritual’ enough, will not help you. It’s thinking about thinking. What’s really going on, is situated somewhere deeper.
Spiritual versus positive
‘Being spiritual’ is not the same thing as ‘being positive’, I often shout out. Spirituality embraces darkness and light as two forces that belong to life. There are extremely heavy situations in life, that we can call and experience as such: we don’t have to erase them with a forced positive observation. Besides, living and true spirituality also embraces your own unconscious, unexposed, undeveloped sides. The word ‘yet’ is important here: you haven’t developed them yet, and it will take time, focus and effort to transform. Positive thinking will not do the trick, no matter how well meant.
If you don’t judge your own loss of confidence, if you’re honest about it and go through it with all you have, the darkness will become a bit sunnier, the heaviness will become lighter, the emptiness will become spaciousness. If you give yourself time and simply allow painful feelings to exist, calmness will arise. Just as the feeling that ‘it’s OK’, or: ‘I am OK’. You will find that bad things will pass, or find a place inside of you, and that faith will be restored. Slowly but surely, you’ll travel to a place that you might call ‘positive’. But it won’t happen overnight.
Text: Susan Smit - Photo: Kristopher Roller