We have all heard of the power of positive thinking, but does mainstream optimism exclude realities we avoid facing? Do we have enough confidence in ourselves to admit all truths?
‘Healing‘ comes from an ancient word of ‘whole‘ – so to heal is to become whole. When we become off-balance, our bodies and minds suffer from disease.
Emotional suppression, conscious or not, can hide parts of ourselves.
Can negative thinking help uncover more of us?
“Negative thinking is not a doleful, pessimistic view that masquerades as ‘realism’. Rather, it is a willingness to consider what is not working.
What is not in balance? What have I ignored?
What is my body saying no to?“ – Gabor Mate
Excessive positive thinking can be a coping mechanism of the hurt inner child as psychiatrist Dr. Michael Kerr explains.
I too used to engage in compulsive optimism, ignoring the bad habits of others (and myself), choosing not to see risks and downplaying all things negative.
What I was neglecting however was healthy boundary setting, exploring my own people preferences and fully assessing a dangerous situation such as early signs of disease.
If negative thinking allows us to see areas we had previously ignored, we can start working on them. This way we can avoid stress factors before they even lead to disease in the future!
“Anger does not require hostile acting out. First and foremost, it is a physiological process to be experienced. Second, it has cognitive value—it provides essential information. ”
If you believe that compulsive positive thinking applies to you, you may be codependent and a natural caregiver. Do you feel safe expressing anger, or do you associate it with guilt?
When we perceive the world through rose-tinted glasses, it is often a way to avoid anger.
Exploring my relationship to anger has been life-changing.
Quietly suffering before, I can now read the clues that anger is giving me before my IBS and fatigue force me to cancel on things I RSVP’ed to out of stress.
And if it ever gets too much, there are easy ways to relieve ourselves from anger!
“Inevitably, negative thinking of the honest sort will lead into areas of pain and conflict we have shunned.
The overwhelming need of the child to avoid pain and conflict is responsible for the personality trait or coping style that later predisposes the adult to disease.”
One example of allowing negative thinking into our world view is admitting that we did not have a happy childhood. Many might feel like they are betraying their parents, or being overly dramatic.
This black and white thinking (either it was happy or horrible) does not allow for normal feelings of resentment or such that fester into destructive behavioural patterns.
It is impossible to change them permanently as an adult if we are negating the initial feelings that have led to them.
Are you able to articulate any hidden prices you’ve had to pay to win your parent’s love?
Are you willing to work on damaging patterns now, or will you pass them on to your children and continue the cycle of silence and hurt?
“If we learn to think negatively, we stop minimising our emotions of loss.(…)
We have seen in study after study that compulsive positive thinkers are more likely to develop disease and less likely to survive. (…)
If a refusal saddles you with guilt, while consent leaves resentment in its wake, opt for the guilt.
Resentment is soul suicide.”
All quotes for this post have been taken from ‘When the Body Says No’ by Gabor Mate.
I highly recommend this book if you are looking for scientific research into the mind-body link of diseases such as arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, IBS and multiple sclerosis.
Have you ever noticed positive thinking harming you, and how did you overcome it?