Screw Positive Thinking

16/09/2014 11:21 BST | Updated 15/11/2014 10:59 GMT

You've heard it before: 'think positively, look forward to the future, think happy thoughts'. The only time that really works is in the dentist's chair whilst she is drilling holes in my teeth right after having injected anaesthetic into my gums. For what it's worth I try to visualise laying on a warm beach with a cool beverage gliding down my throat instead of the foul taste of the dentist's rubber gloves. Apart from that positive thinking is not something I ask of my mind or of others.

Positive thinking encourages us to gloss over what we are feeling, like layering icing over muddy cake. If there is something that is authentically real for us like anger, or upset or disappointment then that is not just okay but it must be dissected and put whole again. Now, is this an excuse to rant and rave and complain about just how awful your ex-boyfriend really was, or why your job totally sucks or how you'd like to put a hose pipe in your neighbours loudspeakers at 3a.m.?

No. This is a call for authentic listening. Instead of verbalising that emotion, be quiet. Listen to it. See what fears and foes lurk beneath what you're feeling. It's about listening to oneself and one's own emotional state and then being wholly responsible for it. Own that upset, that frustration or that anger because it's yours. Accept that it is there. Yes it may have been prompted by the actions of another or by pure circumstance but you and you alone are responsible for what goes on inside. And you alone are responsible for resolving the tension. Make peace with your ex, speak to your boss, call the neighbours. Resolve what you can either in person or silently in the recess of your wounded heart. If you attempt to smear it with positive thinking then the emotions will only re-surface, hairier, uglier and bearing horns. For life expresses itself through us and if we push that expression down with a heavy handed smack of denial then it is natural for that force to bounce back.

If however we observe our emotions, objectively, as mere passing experiences then it is more likely that we resolve what is there and perhaps allow a gentler state of peace to emerge. Awesome. That kind of thinking that is 'positive' is genuine, heartfelt and radiates energy. It's the kind of happy contagious vibe that people love to be around.

We have learned to negate and vilify so-called 'negative' thinking, or in some cases accept it as the norm, and of course those valueless actions such as complaint and gossip have no place in the human heart but sometimes those kinds of actions cover up some deeper discord within oneself. Perhaps if we accept the full range of human emotions for what they are, endeavoured to resolve them responsibly then we might experience a real sense of peace, one that is truer than a simple sugar coating of positive thinking.

"Human beings are far more than just the summation of our thoughts. To breathe life to our existence we must delve more deeply than our thinking" ~ Shoonyo.