Is positive thinking a form of self-deception?
Contribution made by Isabel Hernandez Negrin. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain
When someone is worried about negative thoughts, people often advise them not to think that way, to think positive things, to use words of encouragement and to adopt a different behavior.
However, our thoughts are often only the reflection, in words, of fears, which move on deeper levels, of which we are not aware. That is why positive thoughts are only a superficial palliative to the fears that move us. Sometimes we can only establish a new internal struggle between positive and negative thoughts: a new source of tension. Like when I want to erase a misspelled word by writing a new word on top of it, which leaves me just an ugly blot. It is not healthy to make our life a blot! It would be like sweeping our problems under the carpet and pretend that trash no longer exists. Deep down, we know it is still there and that at any moment it will reappear. I can’t deceive myself effectively.
To make negative thoughts or emotions not drag us, we must learn to look at them without fear. How many times have we refuse to go into certain situations because we think they are a danger to us or because we simply assume that they are going to make us feel bad: a meal, throwing ourselves by a zip-line, to swim where we don’t stand, talking to that person we dislike or talk about an intimate affair… Have you, in spite of the fear, done it? Yes? I have too, and I must say that afterwards I have felt great joy and vitality. No matter the result.
From experience I know that the fact of looking at what I feel, not wanting to run away from it, accepting what I feel with honesty, is a healthy way to gain joy and vitality.
Better not to make our life a blot.