Let’s be real. There are days when one gets a little weary of the continual message to ‘Think Positive’. Since the release of The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale many years ago, the advice to keep one’s thoughts positive and upbeat has pervaded self-help books too numerous to mention, and it is even a cornerstone of certain spiritual disciplines and practices.
First, is it really worth the effort?
Though it can be hard some days (and we may even gripe), it is true that keeping a positive outlook on life is something really worth pursuing. Years ago, the influence of my own thinking on the events in my life became ever harder to deny. At first, we may see that things just didn’t go as well on days I was in a bad mood, and that obstacles that had once seemed insurmountable (first, potty training my children, and later, paying for college) could be overcome provided we could maintain a sense of calm and confidence. Later, I’d see the bigger theme as to how my views about various areas of my life such as health, relationships, and work were influenced by beliefs and feelings I’d held since I was a child.
Why is it hard sometimes?
Yet, it’s not that easy. We can remind ourselves with phrases like ‘This too shall pass’ or ‘Everything will be ok’ when the dog throws up on the carpet or when the kitchen plumbing springs a leak an hour before cherished guests arrive for dinner. But if you are like most people, you have a set of nagging, limiting beliefs that run through your head more of the time. These limiting beliefs are spoken by the voice of your subconscious mind. The voice is not that loud, most of the time, perhaps, but there are those times when the voice is really loud. Maybe the voice screams ‘I don’t belong’, ‘No one loves me’, or some other equally ridiculous message that reflects our limiting beliefs. Whether the voice is soft or loud, the limiting beliefs always affect us, holding us back and hindering our full enjoyment of life.
Where do these limiting beliefs come from?
Most long-held limiting beliefs arise from childhood experiences that upset us at the time. The experiences we have as children strongly affect the perceptions we hold as adults. You might’ve decided that you don’t belong when you weren’t invited to a sleepover or birthday party, or that you’re not important when your parents were too tired to play with you when they came home from work. The beliefs can be a bit more detrimental, but are just as easily released, in cases of physical or emotional trauma. In all cases, the beliefs that we hold are arbitrary and can be changed. Afterwards, it can become considerably easier to think positive.
So, how do we do it?
Think about a problem you are experiencing. It could be that you can’t find that partner you’ve wanted in your life or that you can’t get the job you’ve wanted for a while. Sit quietly with the problem and ask yourself what upsetting childhood experience in your life is most related to the problem you are experiencing today. Then see what occurs to you. Odds are that the way you feel today is very similar to the way you felt at the time of your upsetting childhood experience. Write down how you felt in that situation and what limiting beliefs you think you learned. There are usually just two or three key feelings and beliefs in this ‘old’ event. The next step is to recreate this ‘old’ event, in your mind’s eye, in a new way that makes you feel happy, loved, and included. Maybe you imagine getting invited to the sleepover or birthday party, or being the center of your parents’ attention when they come home from work. Then, and this part is easy, play the ‘new’ event you’ve just created over and over in your mind – let it make you feel fantastic.
Does this really work?
It does. The trick is to realize that the ‘old’ event is no longer happening, yet your mind and body responds as if it is, because the subconscious mind does not distinguish the passing of time. We only imagine the ‘old’ event now, as it is no longer taking place. We only imagine the ‘new’ event as well, so why not choose to imagine the event that makes us feel good? The power is in our hands. The more we imagine the ‘new’ event, the more its roots will take hold in our subconscious minds. We can replace neglect with inclusion, sadness with happiness, scarcity with abundance, or as some Buddhist traditions purport, compost with flowers, and positive thinking becomes automatic and effortless.
How do I know if it’s working?
In my experience, life just gets a little easier and less stressful over time. I feel better and better and my mood has become increasingly immune to things I previously considered to be problems. True, life still has its days and this method is not a miracle cure. The dog still throws up on the carpet from time to time and the plumbing still springs a leak at the least desirable moments. Yet, still, I can maintain a relative sense of calm and a positive outlook. And, over time, I’ll probably even eventually stop griping.
Leigh Ann Lipscomb, Ph.D. is both a Certified Resonance Repatterning practitioner and a Shamanic Energy Medicine practitioner in Chico, CA. Her website is www.leighannlipscomb.com, and she works online with clients all over the world to help them make new memory imprints of negative earlier experiences, release limiting beliefs, and manifest their hearts’ desires.