The Problem With Positive Thinking

In the middle of the semi-circle of chairs, directly opposite our facilitator, I sat in floods of tears with 15 pairs of eyes on me.

It was day 4 of the training, and it was only the day before that I had been waxing lyrical about how amazing I felt and how my heart was so open and the world was so wonderful and colourful and bright... I had been a virtual paragon of positive thinking. So what happened in that 24 hours to turn me into a wet mess?

The Problem with Positive Thinking

If you find that you try all the positive thinking and law of attraction stuff, but only get so far before you start behaving in a way that is so not aligned with where you want to be, then you might have the same problem I did. Because you can do all the positive thinking in the world, and spout affirmations till the cows come home, but if you haven't done the deep diving into your emotions - the subconscious "baggage" that weighs you down whether you know it or not - then it might help for a bit, but the results will not be very long lasting.  

It might even feel like you're wearing a mask of positivity when, inside, you just want to scream into your pillow or cry in a corner.  The funny thing is, I needed to turn into a wet mess in order to remove my mask and really allow me to move forward in a positive way. 

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I had been told I needed to face the "dark side" of my inner world and - in theory - I knew it was true. But I really don't like facing up to negative feelings, so despite dipping my toe into some of the "deeper" therapies, I was always drawn back to the positive stuff and tried my best to stick to it. It took four days in a room with Tom Fortes-Mayer, creator of The Freemind Project and author of The Freemind Experience, to really bring this message home. 

I don't want you to abandon your positive thinking efforts completely because they are still an important part of your journey to feeling really good and living a full and fulfilling life. So here are a few things to consider in order to make sure your positive thinking really is working for you. 

How To Get Your Positive Thinking Working For You

You Probably Need To Visit "The Dark Side" First

If you've done any deep inner work, you've probably noticed that it can bring up some "stuff." If you haven't, you might wonder what I'm banging on about.  This is the emotional pain that has been buried deep in your subconscious.

It often shows up as self-sabotage. You know, those things that you do (or don't do) for no apparent reason, even though you you're not doing yourself any favours. This might be procrastination, turning down opportunities, keeping unhealthy habits, or quitting a relationship or path that you know would be good for you. Or it might show up in the form or anxiety or depression.

In a world where positivity is praised, it can feel scary to dig up these emotions, especially if you're worried that it might negatively impact your Law of Attraction efforts. The thing is, by not addressing them that's exactly what you're doing, because they are festering under the surface, rather than being brought out into the light. 

You know how when you're decluttering a room, it always gets messier before it starts looking tidy? A similar thing happens with our thoughts and beliefs. 

One of the key (and very useful) tools of positive thinking is the use of affirmations. But I'd like to encourage you to think about them differently.

Re-Thinking Affirmations

You might already be familiar with the common knowledge about affirmations. Making them positive, personal (i.e. in the first person) and in the present tense e.g. "I am a successful businesswoman." There are two schools of thought about this: 

  1. The first is that by simply speaking your affirmation as if you already have it, the cognitive dissonance this creates (i.e. the gap between the statement and the reality) will make your brain try to close the gap.  
  2. The second is that even though you want it to be true, your brain simply won't believe you, so rather than trying to close the gap, it will just call you a liar, tell you where to stick your affirmation, and keep you on the path of self-sabotage. 

Having struggled with affirmations for a long time, even though I really wanted them to be true, I'm inclined to agree with the latter. I was reminded of this by Tom over the course of my training, and he suggests a different way of wording affirmations.... 

Keep them positive and personal but word it as if you are on the journey (which you are) rather than already there. For example, "I am great with money" might become "Each and every day I am enjoying getting better at managing my money." 

"Each and every day" allows for the daily progress (or if you want to allow for a "bad day" you can make it "each and every week/month".)  

"Enjoying" brings some fun into the process... 

And "more and more" allows for progress.

I love this format, so I'd like to say a big thank you to Tom for reminding me (and sorry for not listening when you first told me this years ago). It's little pieces of magic like this that made me want to become a Freemind Hypnotherapist and Facilitator, so I can share it with people like you. 

Remember It's A Life-Long Journey - So Enjoy It!

It can seem like some people simply snap out of their self-sabotage, make a decision, and become successful overnight. What you're not seeing is all the months and years of inner-work and inspired action that has brought them to that point. There are things you do that can work incredibly quickly and give you a mini quantum-leap in your development, but even the most seemingly successful people will have other lessons to learn and "stuff" to clear. As you peel off the emotional layers, new ones emerge underneath. That's all part of the fun! 

For a long time I was looking for a quick fix but now I've decided to simply enjoy the journey, see every tear as cleansing (even if it doesn't feel so good at the time), and allow my heart to open to new possibilities as I emerge from the tears feeling lighter and more loving. ​

Get in touch if you'd like to experience the magic of Freemind in your life. 

I'd Love To Hear From You...

Do you believe in the power of positive thinking? Have you visited "the dark side" to clear the blocks that are holding you back? I love to read your tips, tricks and insights, so please share your experiences in the comments box below.

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  • joanne says:

    Hi Sara, I so resonated with this post – long gone are the days for me are just following the positive school of thought and sending love n light to everyone….nahh. That dark or shadow side has been my greatest teacher and friend. It can be uncomfortable but necessary, and its ok to go there. Here you realise you don’t need everyones approval, or to be liked by everyone – you just have to like yourself, accept how you feel warts an all. I have less polite conversations in my head now but its all real – I get over it then move on. I notice more growth that way. In fact you’ve given me an idea for some more Gong Magic 🙂 🙂 :). Keep you posted and keep posting such good inspirational material. Joh x.

    • Sara Louise Fox says:

      Hi Joh, thanks so much for sharing and for the words of encouragement. Yes I agree. For me it was knowing that it’s not just ok but SAFE to go there! Looking forward to finding out what your new gong idea is – you know I love a “good gonging” 🙂

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