We’ve all heard it from our friends, family members and co-workers many times throughout our lifetimes; especially, when we face challenges – “think positively,” they’ll say, or “every cloud has a silver lining.” So, how true is this? Must our experiences always be “positive” in order to gain from them? And, is it possible that painful, or even “negative” circumstances might often teach us the most about who we are, how we are showing-up and what we really want from life?
All too often, our culture subscribes to the “positive thinking” remedy in order to rationalize situations to make them sound better than they really are. This helps numb the pain of challenging situations, so we can feel slightly better about ourselves as we experience them. However, the danger of disguising painful wounds with positive masks is that it disconnects us from our true feelings, which when actually acknowledged, have the greatest power to guide us to the most conscious choices and values-based decisions.
Unless we really believe in our positive thoughts, fixating on finding the positive in each and every situation, whether our true feelings subscribe to them or not, actually creates more stuck energy for ourselves than progress. In fact, it is the truth, whether positive or negative, that provides us with the greatest compass to create change and progress.
In order to shift ourselves into the most optimal circumstances, we need to courageously acknowledge and accept that darkness and pain exist in the world – and not just within others either. That’s right, it exists within each and every one of us. And, when we acknowledge this fact by accepting our pains without judgment, we generate a clear awareness of where we really are, as well as the realities presented by any given situation, so we can respond with the most accurate solutions.
So, what are my thoughts about positive thinking? Who needs it when you are unafraid to access your own personal truth as a tool for growth and development?
When we face the truth of what’s really going on inside ourselves, painful or not, we empower ourselves to take actions that are most aligned with our core values. By avoiding negative thoughts or feelings in an effort to “be positive,” we often misguide ourselves into decisions that negate what matters to us most, only to cause confusion within ourselves and to those around us. Too much of this can cause a lot of personal turmoil, as actions become misaligned with personal truths, causing the world to respond to us with more of the same painful situations. Why? Because we’ve pretended not to be bothered by them in the first place!
On the other hand, when we confront our less than positive thoughts and feelings with honesty, we allow ourselves to become aware of where we actually stand. This helps us to act in accordance with the truth of our internal compasses, which more accurately guides the people, places and things in the world around us to respond to our needs, hopes and dreams with the most aligned opportunities. The alternative is to rationalize a bad situation to be better than it actually is, and in doing so, risk missing the greatest possibilities to create better circumstances for ourselves and those around us.
We need to give ourselves a little more credit and a lot less judgment for experiencing pain and negativity from time-to-time. We stand to suffer a whole lot less when we simply accept that, “yes, I too experience pain sometimes,” as do all human beings, and guess what? That’s perfectly okay. The most optimal outcomes will come from our honesty towards situations; otherwise, we risk numbing ourselves from pain with dishonest positivity, only to find ourselves coping through a lifetime of false happiness and status-quo.
Why not face the truth and allow ourselves to experience all of the colors that come with it – dark, bright, dull or vibrant? And, why not allow the truth to exist as it is, and in doing so, allow it to guide us in the directions that serve us most, versus deeming that only the “positive” can carry us forward?
In fact, when we accept the truth of situations, for whatever they are, as well as take note of our feelings without judging them as either positive or negative, we begin to inform ourselves with the most useful information for progress. Conscious choices align with the truth of who we really are at the core, and no positive thought can compete with that. So, positivity or truth? The choice is ours.
View the edited version of this article at yourtango.com.