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).