A lot of self-help and pseudo-spiritual sources advocate the use of positive thinking and affirmations.
The usual flow is:
- Recognize negative thought
- Replace with positive thought
- Repeat positive thought
If you’ve ever tried to use this technique you have probably encountered mixed results. It’s just not that easy to transform a negative mindset to a positive one.
I personally sometimes had the sensation of being a “fraud” when trying to focus on positive thoughts. The gap between what I was feeling at that moment, and what I was trying, or supposed, to feel, seemed insurmountable.
The reason for this was quite simply explained by Eckhart Tolle in this video mini-series about conscious manifestation.
Thoughts and emotions are of course closely intertwined and feed each other. We have to recognize their connection to transform them.
Basically, he describes 4 steps:
- Awareness of the negative thoughts and emotions.
- Recognition of the futility and destructive nature of the negativity, so that we want to let it go.
- Awareness of these sensations in the present moment.
- Ultimately replacing them with a positive thought, but not immediately.
The key point is that, even if you recognize and stop the negative thought, the negative emotion with all its power and energy, is still there.
This is why you can’t simply replace a negative thought with a positive thought. You’re fighting the reality and power of the underlying emotion. This has to be neutralized, or at least disengaged first, (steps 2 and 3 above) before you can move to the positive state.
This is reminiscent of Abraham Hicks’ emotional guidance scale which recognizes that you can’t leap from the bottom to the top in one step. You just try to move a little up the scale at a time:
- Positive Expectation/Belief
What have your experiences been in trying to manage your negative thoughts, and think positively?