Positive thinking is just wishful thinking ... until you add the secret ingredients.
"So … is this class all about positive affirmations, thoughts and stuff?"
This has been the opening question to the pre-class chit-chat at almost every Asset Based Thinking class I’ve taught. It’s phrased differently each time but the sentiment is the same. "Is this real or just fluffy talk?"
The Secret, Law of Attraction, Positive Psychology … you feel in your heart of hearts that there’s something to it but there’s a struggle to accept and implement once the pie in the sky notions of the monetary windfall meet the cold hard reality that you are still at the job you planned to leave after a year and you really don’t ever play the lottery anyway. Why do we keep talking about positive thinking and is there a way we can make good use of it?
We keep talking about it mainly because ...
The Law of Attraction is universal in its appeal.
Its guiding principles have been taught in almost all religions and philosophies throughout the world over thousands of years. It’s been channelled through sages, the benefits have been touted by spiritual avatars and if you’ve ever gotten really clear and done the work it doesn’t take long to see proof of it yourself. Basically, we not only want to believe that life can be easy, we already suspect it. There’s that nagging feeling most of us have that just knows we can drop the struggle.
By and large we’re affluent enough to be able to ask these big questions.
When we’re in survival mode merely trying to meet our physical needs takes up the bulk of our bandwidth and there’s no room for questions that lead us to greater truth; all of our time and energy is taken up wondering where our next meal is coming from or if we’re going to find shelter. We live in such abundant times right now that often the most destitute among us is better off then the general population was 100 years ago (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a great resource to understand this) which means now, more than ever before, we have energy left to explore our lives for deeper meaning.
We’re looking for something more sustainable than the build-and-fall cycle we’re used to.
For time immemorial we’ve seen conquering empires built on the backs of the very necessary and extremely unappreciated automaton only to see them crumble when stretched to capacity. We’ve come to believe that cycle is normal to such an extent that we do it in our own lives, convinced that if we just toil harder, shut out the competition, work more that we’ll somehow wind up at the top. We’ve become married to our to-do lists and have-tos, sometimes without consideration of what those line items cost us in terms of time and energy and we find ourselves muscling our way through each day trying to manhandle our lives to fit into a design we only think we want. Only to find that it’s not only extremely unfulfilling but it most often leads to great loss. We know there’s got to be a better way.
Science is catching up, so people are listening up.
As technology improves we’re learning more and more about the effects of our intention on our physical world and our own well-being. As the evidence pours in about water, matter and health being changed by merely focusing thoughts and energy we’re realizing, as a society, that we have more control than we once thought. The notion that we play a primary hand in our own destiny is simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying and certainly motivation enough to keep the conversation going. Lynne McTaggart has written a wonderful book that chronicles the science behind focused thoughts through the decades called "The Intention Experiment" and Pam Grout’s "E Squared," and "E Cubed" has intention experiments you can do in your everyday life.
Positive thinking, however, is simply not enough. Positive thinking, alone, will never be enough. Positive believing … well, that’s where the magic happens.
As I wrote about in 6 Everyday Practices To Turn Pain Into Healing, as long as you’re operating from your thoughts alone you will constantly struggle against the belief you already hold. The moment you force the thought "I am abundant," the belief you already have in place has something to say about it. If your current conviction is congruent, in any way with your new thought then it will chime in helpfully listing all the ways you are, in fact, abundant.
However, if the belief you hold is incongruent you’ve merely given your current belief "I am struggling/poor/not enough" an opportunity to show you the multitude of ways your "I am abundant" thought is a bunch of hooey. And trust me that opportunity will not be wasted. All of a sudden your mind and heart will be flooded with the evidence that you’re anything but abundant. Whether our goal lies in a bigger pocketbook, warmer relationships or fulfillment at work, this is the obstacle we all face when trying to implement a new understanding of our world. The good news is, now that you understand this principle you also know exactly where your personal work begins.
Shift your focus.
At any given moment there is evidence to support both the positive and negative thoughts. You are abundant and you are struggling. The problem is that you came pre-wired with the negativity bias that turns your attention to what hurts (we all did, it’s what has kept us alive over the millennia). While not inherently bad, this survival mechanism has forced you to compile a whole lot of proof that your struggle is real and inevitable. This means almost all of the proof that you’re abundant has gone virtually unnoticed.
I coach people every day who have a roof over their head, a safe car to drive, access to the most robust education in the history of mankind via the internet, unlimited voice, talk and text on an expensive phone they carry in their pocket, the ability to reach across the planet in nano-seconds and chat with someone face to face and a vast interconnected road/highway system they can safely use to purchase goods, see people or get away and these people still feel like they don’t have enough. That’s just the tip of the abundance-iceberg for them, too. Yes, they want a bigger safety net or retirement account. Yes, they want some simple additions to their lifestyles. Yes, they want to stop worrying about where the last $X a month income is going to come from. I’m not discounting the want or need for more money (or love or appreciation), I’m merely saying that the lack is not the only truth you can focus on. When you worry about what you don’t have there’s not enough energy or attention available to create what you want.
Create the space for inspiration.
Once your attention is turned to the myriad of ways your wishes are already fulfilled you then have the capacity to problem solve and think creatively. Your brain’s electricity moves out of survival mode where options are limited (fight, flight or freeze) and into curiosity mode where options are vast and exciting. The more your belief changes the easier it is to keep your energy in the helpful part of your brain. Suddenly you'll find yourself doing all kinds of activities that didn’t really make sense at the time yet end up being exactly where you needed to be.
When you allow yourself to wander and feel playful you’ll find that you meet just the right person, you’ll have entered some non-sequetor into the conversation your new friend needed to know so they could share a resource or idea with you that you’ll find is precisely what is required to make more money (or heal a relationship). These scenarios don’t feel natural at first simply because they’re unplanned and seemingly random yet the space that once held worry is now seeking, like a child. Like that child, it wanders until it finds something interesting to grasp onto. The key, at this point, is to do something with what you’ve grasped.
Take right action.
You’ll know that your action steps are coming from the new belief because you’ll find that you don’t want to fight them. Not deep down anyway. You’ll follow up on that resource given to you, you’ll get lost in learning how to start a business or you’ll get butterflies while flipping through a course catalog. Wherever the inspiration guides you you’ll go—not because it’s easy or readily understood (often it’s neither) but because you can’t help yourself.
Right action comes from that new belief. Right action comes from following through on your inspiration even without a guaranteed outcome. Right action says, "I’m doing _________ and I’ll either learn something, grow myself further or attain a desired result" and all of those outcomes are acceptable. No manhandling required.
Positive believing comes from the non-linear practice of positive focus, intention and action. It is a practice that you return to repeatedly as your old defaults try to wiggle their way back in, but over time you’ll learn to live more fluidly with life and you’ll become more connected to yourself in each moment.
You change your life when you change your belief about what is possible in your life.
Can you find areas in your life right now where you feel like you’re muscling your way through? What would right action look and feel like for you right now?
When you feel inspired to do something outside of your comfort zone, what do you do (or not do) about it? What could you change today that might help you trust those intuitive hits more? Let me know in the comments or contact me through my profile. I’d love to hear your thoughts about your journey.
Triffany helps dedicated women with a vision bring their powerful dreams to life. When you’re ready to grow who you are in order to improve what you do start with this free monthly call or schedule a chat with her directly.