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Why ‘Positive Thinking’ Doesn’t Work (And What to Do Instead)

Why 'Positive Thinking' Doesn't Work

As someone who talks a lot about the Law of Attraction, manifestation and maintaining a high vibration it may seem contradictory to state that positive thinking doesn’t work, but in reality there is a certain type of ‘positive thinking’ that does more harm than good.

This type of attitude is one where we ignore anything that we label as negative and stay away from addressing the harsh, upsetting, dark elements of our psyche. It is about avoiding the shadow and only embracing what makes us feel good on a surface level.

There is so much information about the Law of Attraction, from so many different sources, that it is easy to gain a distorted view of how to go about manifesting. In this post I want to talk about positive thinking, spiritual bypassing and a more balanced and sustainable approach to facing the positive and negative.

“Positive Vibes Only”

You have most likely come across the concept of positive thinking or positive vibes only in some form or another. The idea that you must constantly maintain a faultless positive mindset and attitude or something bad will happen to you.

I remember having this experience in the first Law of Attraction group I ever joined; where anyone who was seen to be talking negatively was instantly ridiculed and shut down. In a group that was supposed to be ‘positive’, the reaction to ‘negativity’ was telling.

Often when we are adverse to the negative in life or the negativity we perceive in others, it is because we still haven’t dealt with those same aspects in ourselves. When we see someone complain it may trigger that unhealed complaining aspect of ourselves that we are still working on.

This isn’t to say that we must surround ourselves with people who incessantly complain, are angry, or disrespect us. Boundaries are super important, and maintaining your own wellbeing and vibration is key. However once we have addressed these aspects in ourselves we are less likely to lash out at those who display these characteristics and instead can respond from peace.

This is known as addressing our shadow. The shadow is the side of us that contains all of the characteristics, beliefs and patterns that we would rather pretend didn’t exist – the negative aspects of our being. The minute we bring awareness to this aspect it shrinks.

When we avoid addressing our shadow using the concept of “positive vibes only” or “positive thoughts only”, this is known as spiritual bypassing. It is using the mantra of “love and light” to avoid seeing the darkness or shadow that is still very much present in us all.

Performing Positivity

The thing is…manifestation isn’t necessarily about a positive mood. It’s less about your mood (although that has some impact) and more about your overall vibration which includes aspects such as your habits, thoughts, patterns, wounds, beliefs, self worth and so on.

All of these aspects of our personality have to be congruent before we see see our physical reality shift. Which means a single bad mood is not going to undo your intensive inner work and a single good mood is not going to show an instant shift in your physical.

When we perform positivity superficially while feeling a contradicting sense of doubt internally, our spirit can sense that we are not being honest, and so what we attract will continue to reflect the internal.

Manifestation is not about a superficial veneer of positivity, it’s about digging deep so that we may shift our internal until our external has not choice but to shift too. When our internal beliefs/thoughts/patterns match up with our persistent moods we create congruence…this is when the magic happens.

We cannot get from a state of not having something to having something if we do not first address the blocks that are stopping us getting there.

It takes first bringing awareness to those aspects of ourselves which we would rather ignore such as the doubt, fear, sadness and so on, before we can fully step into a more peaceful, happy, knowing version of ourselves.

What to Do Instead

If positive thinking alone doesn’t work, what are we supposed to do?

A great exercize I’ve found to really dig deep and see how your internal aligns with what you want to achieve externally is using affirmations. Usually we are told to recite a positive affirmation such as “I am rich” strongly and with emotion, perhaps while looking at the mirror several times a day.

Yet we know that affirmations like this often don’t work, it feels like something is missing. Practice reciting an affirmation you wish to align with such as “I am financially independent”, and notice how saying this makes you feel.

Instead of performing an emotion while saying this, just note your initial reactions to this statement. Do you feel unsure, doubtful, anxious? Does it feel like lying? Do you focus more on the how than the statement itself? Or does it resonate? Do you feel uplifted? Do you feel at ease?

Use this information to help you identify the inner work you still have to do. For example saying “I am financially independent” may cause you to feel incredibly uncomfortable (it did for me the first time I recited it).

This can be related to blocks you still haven’t addressed about having and maintaining money. You may have grown up in an environment where money was scarce and so the concept of being financially free just feels like a lie.

Moving Past Blocks

Set yourself a small challenge such as buying an item you would like but is little out of your price range (nothing too drastic) and see how that makes you feel. Come back in a day and reflect on how it both scares you but also frees you.

When we do little challenges like this and see that it wasn’t as bad as we thought we can then use this energy to fuel us forward. Just as there is a Law of Attraction, there is a Law of Transference. This is where we use positive past experiences to show us that future positive experiences are possible.

Over time the challenges you can set yourself will gradually increase but the transition from one to another will not be too big. Keep a journal of this progress so that you can refer back as time goes along.

You will get to a point where you say that same affirmation and feel completely different about it. You will FEEL it is an honest statement because you have already proven to yourself that progress from where you are to where you want to go is possible.

You will FEEL it both in your being and in your current mood, the two will be coherent. When we create coherence like this the external physical has no choice but to shift according to our internal. The changes will be so gradual that you may not even notice, but over time the effect compounds.

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