Besting Autoimmunity

Is Positive Thinking Enough?

Is Positive Thinking Enough?

positive thinking

Hi everyone. It’s the beginning of Passover and also Good Friday, a wonderful chance for us to create gratitude in our lives. I don’t have the words to address the delightful gifts God has placed for us on our planet. Nor can I say what the extraordinary people, prophets and enlightened ones say so easily. But Richard Rohr has some good things now on his website, It might seem like a particularly holy time in our culture, but I believe that every day has the potential to be just that. We just have to have the mindset to receive the gifts.

But how? How can we do that? Certainly not in one systematic way, step one, two and three. Right? I for one am not sure about that. Maybe there is a way, a distinctive way to help ourselves invite the power of God into our lives and then learn to ride the wave of love, the force that creates the space around our hearts and slows time so that all we know is now.

In grad school, I studied to teach high school kids with different learning modalities (they called them “learning disabilities” then.) My professor had us read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. I was introduced to the practice of changing your thoughts to change your behavior for different results. At the time, I remembered demonstrations of this concept during classes with Werner Erhard in a program I’d taken called the Forum. But the idea never made much sense before reading the book. (Maybe I was ready to receive the concept.) I understood that what we think determines our behavior, our expectations, our assumptions, our perceptions of what is going on around us. And if we understand this, we can create different thoughts and our behaviors and perceptions will change. Self-affirmations are a good example of this practice.

I had taught Montessori preschoolers for eight years, so I already new how to reframe a loss to find the win. To be positive in the face of disappointment, and to encourage without needing to praise. And with the high schoolers, I learned  how not to take all the anger and rejection personally, to stand steady and create a safe place for them to face their lack of confidence in school. But as a person with active autoimmunity, I experienced very little luck with self-affirmations; affirmations spoken, thought or written just seemed to lay on top of all the crap I was feeling and experiencing in my body. They were not true. They were lies to myself I could not believe. I saw the image of me pulling myself up by my boot straps, off the ground higher and higher, until I let go and fell back to the ground, once again sinking down into my anger and pain.

I began to feel that positive thinking was not enough. How to be authentic in my affirmations, that’s what I was looking for. I wanted to be real, not pretend I was doing OK. I’d had enough of pretending in my life. What has your experience been? Let us know. What have you discovered about affirmations? Creating a new way of thinking?

Next week I will continue this conversation with how we can create authentic affirmations.

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