Many times over the years I’ve circled around to a contemplation of whether I need to dig around in my past and discover old issues or it would be better to hold positive thoughts. I’ve wound up after landing for periods of time on both sides, concluding that most of us need a combo. And maybe there’s a time more for one and a time for the other.
I started off in the “You Create Your Own Reality”, positive-thinking and affirmations mode. Initially, when I was in total excitement with discovering this whole new way of thinking and being, it worked magically well for me (which certainly fits the theory of the Law of Attraction). But — at least as I see it — I eventually hit the wall of negative beliefs which permeated my being and it seemed like my spiritual progression ground to a halt.
Still clinging to a belief that this spiritual path offered a better way forward, I kept plugging and wound up being guided to Ellen Margron’s marvelous version of the Fisher-Hoffman Process (Ellen has since died and as far as I’m aware no one else had similarly developed or taken on the longer and more comprehensive process she created). Massive amounts of digging around in my belief system and releasing (“processing”) beliefs that no longer served me transformed many aspects of my life and I became a firm believer in the need to do some excavating.
Over the years I’ve periodically run into teachers who feel it’s more important to hold positive thoughts and not necessary to examine the past. Initially I couldn’t even compute what they were trying to say. I now get it if I think of neural nets. Creating new positive thoughts and beliefs can build new neural nets and your unconscious will often start taking down the old thinking patterns as it recognizes how much better the new pattern feels– or at least guide you to behave/respond from the newer nets.
But many neural patterns are so intertwined and complex and well-established, I decided somewhere along the way that just saying affirmations and “thinking positive” is kind of like aiming a drip of water at the top of Mt. Everest and waiting for the mountain to erode…. And I also noticed how often people’s determined positivity seemed more like denial than a true shift.
During “The Process” Ellen taught us about layers of being. The divine essence or true heart is in the center, then the next circle is the negative thoughts and beliefs we develop as we’re taught that we’re not divine and perfect and then around that we circle the mask of the personality we choose to present. The most fascinating piece for me was the news that meditating or affirming, etc. while determinedly avoiding the roiling circle of negativity in the middle CREATES ANOTHER LAYER AROUND THE OUTSIDE instead of taking you into the heart.
This really describes the sense of denial I sometimes feel from some peoples’ “positive outlooks” — like a big layer of plastic is covering something they’re avoiding. In pursuit of spirituality or calm or peacefulness they’ve thickened the layers hiding the true heart instead of illuminating it.
That said, after years of digging and excavating I’ve come to see you can also get kind of caught up in the other direction and turn life into a constant process of finding what you need to fix. For those of us who already suspect something is deeply “wrong” with us, it’s an easy trap in which to land.
Having cleared a great deal, I’ve come to a place where I feel a lot of benefit from holding to positive thoughts. I keep watch for negative belief patterns but instead of feeling I need to pursue and “process” them, I work at staying mindful enough to turn around the thought to a statement that carries the belief I’d rather hold. I’ve written before about some of the other ways I submerge myself in affirmative thinking so here I’ll just say I can feel the neural nets changing from all the steps toward thinking more positively.
In the end I’d have to say I feel it’s both. If you hold a huge amount of negative thought patterns — especially if they’re ancestral patterns of thought that have been passed down for generations — I think some excavating out of the past is the only way you’re going to step beyond it. And I really think if you feel absolutely determined never to examine your life there’s a big issue just in that to explore. Why are you unwilling to look into whatever may be holding on and hindering you?
It’s kind of a juggling act I’d say between exploring issues as you become aware of them and creating a new structure of thinking. And I’d guess in the early stages of the journey most of us need a bit more on the digging around side and as we clear issues it becomes more fruitful to work on building new neural nets with positive thoughts and beliefs. I’d love to hear some chiming in from some of you deep thinkers out there! What’s been your experience?
Note: Zoe at HopeDreamWait has nominated me for a Cramm Blog award. I quit participating in these blog awards some time ago, but I am so grateful to Zoe for nominating me — thanks!. Her blog is fun, so check her out!