July 23, 2013

Forget Positive Thinking—Try Whole Thinking. ~ Sonya Joseph

The Power of Whole Thinking.

About 12 years ago I started attending a Unity church. I loved it from day one.

They welcomed people of many different faiths, they made time for meditation in their service, their music was phenomenal and then there was the power of positive thinking.

Having been raised in a world where people enjoyed playing devil’s advocate, these people were such a breath of fresh air. No one asked, “How’s that going to work?” or “Can you afford it?” Instead, they would give me tips on affirmations to help me manifest whatever it was I was going after, offer prayers for my journey and hold me in the light.

In those first years, I basked in this light. I wrote and chanted affirmation after affirmation. But then, the dark side started to slip in. When I didn’t achieve my vision I started to feel that my positive thinking wasn’t powerful enough, and I felt guilty. This was worse than the Catholic guilt I had carried my whole life. At least Catholic guilt is based on original sin, which is, at its core, “not my fault.” Yes, it must be overcome and forgiven, but I only carried it. I didn’t create it.

If I didn’t achieve something I set out to achieve, there were people in my life who would wonder if I didn’t pray enough, if I didn’t affirm enough or if I didn’t think positively enough.  Soon, I found that there were many others who felt the same way I did.  They carried excessive guilt that their lack of a good job, a good relationship, or a good place to live was entirely their own fault and could be cured by the power of positive thinking.

Positive thinking had become a trap and a chore. 

Deep down inside, I knew it was over the top. I admit to having a little streak of a Jewish mother in me who joined the chorus of those saying, “You go girl! You’re going to get that job” but is also thinking, “This is what she’s wearing?”

I once saw this play out in a very real way. I was at a meeting and a woman there had a job interview later that afternoon. We prayed her up, down and sideways. We held her in the light. We celebrated her brilliance and visualized a future in this job. After this, I asked her what she was wearing to the interview. She looked down at herself and back at me and I simply said, “No.” It just came out. Long story short, she took out her phone and showed me some pictures of herself in different outfits and I made some suggestions about what would work and what wouldn’t. Then she went home and changed. She was just as charged up by my dose of reality as she was by the prayer.

What I now realize is that there is power in positive thinking, but there is also power in negative thinking. And there is also power in realistic thinking.

It’s not a matter of choosing one or the other; it’s a matter of percentages. Each way of thinking has an element that contributes to fulfilling our desires.

For example, I’ve got a job interview. After the whooping and hollering, the call to my sister and the booty shake, I start envisioning how great my life will be if I get it. I imagine the new furniture; I imagine the debts erased, the boots, the upgrade on my cable, etc. Then I get down to business. I think realistically.

What do I wear, how many hard copies of resumes should I bring, what questions will they ask?

All this time those new boots and debts are simmering at the back of my brain and I’m starting to feel like I will die if I don’t get this job. It’s time for some negative thinking.

I imagine myself failing. I don’t spin it, I don’t soften the edges. I look at it like a hard failure and I think about how I would feel and what I would do. What I always see is me surviving.

Can you imagine how confident and at ease you would feel if you could walk into that interview thinking, “This would be great, but if not, I’ll live?”

When all of this is done, I layer on all the positive thinking I can. Affirmations, calls to friends who will pray me up, down and sideways, vision statements, the whole nine yards. This makes me feel energized, like I am my own cheerleader and yes, I’m worth cheering about.

This is the power of whole thinking.

You’re ready if you don’t get it.

You’re ready if you do get it.

And you’re wearing the right shoes no matter what.






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Assist Ed: Julie Garcia/Ed: Brianna Bemel

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