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Are you Hooked on Positive Thinking?

Are you Hooked on Positive Thinking?

Many people try to substitute “positive thinking” for the disturbing thoughts they want to eliminate. On the surface this tactic may lead to some signs of improvement. The mind can be forced into identifying only with pleasant or uplifting things. But in time, the feared thoughts will surface again, and until then there is the exhausting effort of trying to maintain constant self-control.

Many people, in their well-intended efforts to accent the positive, do not escape their problems but only increase them. They want to put an end to suffering but mistakenly choose the tactic of denying their true feelings, on the grounds that the feelings are “too negative” to express.

Paying attention to one’s fear and pain is a great source of guilt in most people because it seems life self-pity, a trait we think of as wrong. But denying pity to yourself, when you would give it willingly to others, is also wrong. We all have hidden pain inside, and trying to suppress it is not a virtue. It’s only an impossibility.

You may consider it very important to maintain a good attitude, but in itself an attitude is not very reliable. After all, who’s keeping whose spirits up? Everything inside you is just you, even though you might split it up into a brave you that is trying to suppress or defeat a fearful you.

Does opposing your negative thoughts lessen their power? Doesn’t it just delay the day when they will come out in one way or another? You probably put in a lot of time not thinking negatively. It must require constant vigilance and effort on your part. Yet as soon as the pressure is off, don’t these denied feelings rebound with doubled intensity?

Negative thoughts come on their own, even in the face of our strongest opposition. It’s just something we all have to accept. The serious question is, “Can I give the whole game up?”

Adapted from Unconditional Life: Discovering the Power to Fulfill Your Dreams, by Deepak Chopra (A Bantam Book, 1991).

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Deepak Chopra

Acknowledged as one of the world's greatest leaders in the field of mind body medicine, Deepak Chopra, M.D. continues to transform our understanding of the meaning of health. Chopra is known as a prolific author of over 49 books with 12 best sellers on mind-body health, quantum mechanics, spirituality, and peace. A global force in the field of human empowerment, Dr. Chopra's books have been published in more than 35 languages with more than 20 million copies in print.


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8:35AM PDT on Apr 19, 2013

Yes, I am. :-)

2:02PM PDT on Apr 9, 2013

is it denial?

11:33PM PDT on Apr 8, 2013


12:31PM PST on Jan 5, 2012

Good article - I strongly believe that we have to face all of our demonds - positive and negative and find a balance.

1:25PM PST on Jan 25, 2011

Good post. Thanks.

8:58PM PST on Nov 23, 2010

There always has to be a balance in life...if you dwell on the negative, it only brings you down. Sometimes you just have to embrace the crap and know that everything needs a little manure to grow and thrive. Look at how the flowers bloom and grow so beautifully when you use a little 'crap' in the right places. I think that when we are challenged our best has an opportunity to rise to the top. We all need support from those we love. That is how I get through all the negative crap. Take the good out of every situation. Every negative has a positive and attitude is often the key to success. Happiness is a choice.

10:05PM PDT on Oct 27, 2010


11:21PM PDT on Oct 25, 2010

People do "lie to themselves" all the time. Unfortunately this doesn't do much to foster examination and analysis leading to adaptive changes where possible.... Of course you can also put "positive thoughts" right down your throat in the form of an anxiolytic or an antidepressant.

For me this topic opens up the old saw "If you don't mind, it doesn't matter, quite a brainful when you really start thinking about it. On the one hand, people make ever so many problems for themselves by "minding" too much, by manufacturing negativism when perhaps it didn't have to be, and then predictably responding to the negativism they've manufactured. People can definitely "create their own reality," both negative and positive, and do so all the time.

Then again, as already mentioned, many "weeds" exist in the human psyche and they can definitely bear seeds... poor problem-solving skills, nonadaptive reactions and other negative traits/symptoms, nonadaptive behaviors and responses that continually create real problems.. Being able to "feel good" about these things doesn't do a darn thing to actually improve one's life. Quite the opposite, in fact, as one regards the continuing negatives with a measure of guilt, despair, lowered self-esteem and self-efficacy... So really, the whole idea is quite complex and definitely needs to be looked at on a case by case basis. Anyway, thank you, Mr. Chopra!

9:58PM PDT on Oct 23, 2010

I'm so glad he wrote this. I get sick of hearing about positive thinking. There's a big different between trying to find the positive in every situation and thinking good thoughts to attract good things, but when you just go around denying that you have rage, pain and fear, it's going to come out somewhere else---such as in mental illness, cancer, or intestinal problems.

8:14PM PDT on Oct 16, 2010

thanks, just in time for me!!

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