Part of the problem with the multi-billion dollar ‘think-positive’ franchise is that people are left with the sense that meaning can’t be found in anything else.
‘Positive thinking’ touts itself as awareness raising and life affirming but its ungarnished sentimentality can leave folk feeling guilty about feeling guilty and angry about being angry.
The New Age is mostly the Old Age with its prejudices re-arranged. We no longer call it sin, but still get to feel bad about feeling bad.
The implicit doctrine of ‘positivity’ is that if you can’t manage it you’ve failed, and even advocates inauthenticity to attain the goal. Fake it to make it!
Apparently there can be no soulful value to be found in regret, depression, anxiety or mourning over loss.
“How many times do we lose an occasion for soul work by leaping ahead to final solutions without pausing to savor the undertones? We are a radically bottom-line society, eager to act and to end tension, and thus we lose opportunities to know ourselves for our motives and our secrets.” T. Moore.
There is no time to linger and sift through the ashes, its all about moving on and letting go; fleeing, in fact, from life that would sully us with its dirt.
A lot of ‘positive thought’ is newspeak for lack of compassion. Folk are simply giving their refusal to value the leaf mould of life fancy clothes to wear.
Turn that frown upside down!
What’s disturbing is that the philosophy of ‘positive thought’ seems so maternal and affirming but actually much of it is extremely macho and intolerant.
Pain is a weakness, regret is a waste of time, anxiety a worthless affliction and much of the advice of New Age ‘therapists’ little more than a set of judgements about how others ought to live.
And its oh so popular because it gives the bright, cheery narcissistic streak in us all endless permission to lay into the weak or vulnerable inner child that can’t live up to such fine ideals.
“Usually, the main problem with life’s conundrums is that we don’t bring to them enough imagination” T Moore.
Inner conflict then becomes entrenched. We get to be shamed rather than enriched by the shadow, plagued rather than humanised by our imperfections.
”One is a great deal less anxious if one feels perfectly free to be anxious.” Alan Watts.
Whilst it is true that we cannot worry away our problems this is not to say that worry itself is without value. It could be an expression of love or involvement or participation and riding roughshod over it as something ‘negative’ is to fail entirely to find its meaning or value.
There are things in life to be depressed about. Its just inhuman to say otherwise. Becoming depressed can be really important. It aquaints us with the saturnine quality of life, the reality of the ‘old, outmoded dispensation’, and needs to be entered into..
”when we are completly exhausted by the weight of our own identity”. J Foster
Depression is there for a reason. Its not just some blow of fate. Our task is to find its meaning, what threshold of life it presides over, to find its context and be able to say, ‘of course, you feel like that’. Then it will pass. I’ve seen depression lift at the mere consideration that it might have some value…
I came across this piece of spiritual fascism today,
”Any feeling of insufficiency, unworthiness or unloveability is created by thoughts. We don’t experience these feelings when we don’t have the thoughts that create them.” Noah Elkriel.
What nonsense. If people are treated like shit they will feel like shit. The thought ”I feel like shit”, comes after the fact. The mind does not create lousy parents, a nuclear threat, or economic depression.
These are realities that our feeling lives must be touched by if our humanity is to remain viable and if we are to care enough to do anything about it. Trying to block out reality by changing your syntax is like abolishing elephants by refusing to acknowledge them.
”What we resist, persists”. CG Jung
The whole ideology of ‘positive thought’ has some big hitters in support..
”Once the correct ideas characteristic of advancement are grasped by the masses, these ideas turn into a material force that changes the world.” Mao tse Tung.
Thing is, his ‘great leap forward’, cost more lives than those murdered by Stalin and Hitler put together, and puts a little perspective on how positive thought can wind up crushing those its supposed to serve.
Our culture is run through with, ‘je ne regrette rien’. We aspire to live without regret, forgetting that this wish is really a narcissistic desire to remain ever the same, never to grow or to gain the perspective of greater wisdom. It is also to forget that Edith Piaf dedicated her song to the benevolent embrace of the French Foreign Legion and that she herself struggled with lifelong addiction.
Nietzsche too, with his ‘Remourseless Life’, was famed for his intolerance, his contempt for the feminine and the ease with which his philosophy was used by the Nazis.
The fact is that we need to fail, to mourn and to regret.
“It is in the nature of things to be drawn to the very experiences that will spoil our innocence, transform our lives, and give us necessary complexity and depth.” T Moore
Our task is to tend life’s situations, not to ‘improve’ them. For if we fall foul of the fantasy that whatever doesn’t suit us can simply be pushed away or turned on its head then it will materialise into precisely those things we originally wished to avoid.