Relax, you don't have to think positive

As I explored in my blog post “Thought: the Human Super-Power”, our thoughts are what create our experience of the world; the power of Thought is what gives us our good days, our bad days, our joy and our pain, our peace and our discontent.

So doesn’t it follow that we should try to think positive, and thereby hopefully have more of the good days, the joy and the peace?

Well, no.

If you’ve ever tried to ‘think positive’, you’ll know that sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. If you genuinely see an upside to whatever’s going on, you’ll feel better. If you’re trying to force it, it’s not going to work, however much you tell yourself there’s a silver lining.

Have you ever had someone say “well at least (insert supposed upside of whatever’s happening)”? Did that make you feel better, or did you want to slap them for being so insensitive? Your reaction will depend entirely on what thinking makes sense to you in that moment. You can’t force yourself (or anyone else) to think a certain way.

To me, thinking positive often seems to imply that the situation is inherently negative, and that only by finding a silver lining or a ‘better’ way of thinking about it can we overcome that inherent negative nature. For example, we try to convince ourselves with affirmations in the mirror of how confident we are (while the little voice in our head shrieks BS in the background) or we try to look on the bright side of something that seems to us to be truly upsetting.

However, once we start to see that the experience we’re having of any situation is always and only the result of whatever thoughts we’re having, creating our feelings in that moment, labels of positive and negative become somewhat irrelevant.

In the same way that the sand we use to build our sandcastles is not good sand or bad sand, it’s just sand, and we can use it to create beautiful castles or scary sea monsters, the energy that is Thought is completely neutral – it’s the shapes we make with it, innocently forgetting that they're creations of our own making, that scare us.

And in the same way that our sandcastles are washed away with the incoming tide, our thoughts are not permanent, and will dissolve of their own accord and be replaced with new thought when we forget to focus on them.

So give yourself a break – rather than trying to find the bright side, you can just relax and recognise that how you’re feeling is simply a reflection of Thought, taking form in the moment, and that fresh thinking can come along at any time, inevitably bringing with it a different feeling from whatever you're experiencing right now. You can rely on it.