The problem with positive thinking…

When I think of positive affirmations for some reason I think of an unhappy middle aged man saying to himself in a mirror “every day in every way I am getting better”. I guess I have picked up that imagery from a film some time ago in the distant past!

Clients at my Cornwall hypnotherapy clinic quite often ask me whether positive affirmations are a good thing to do. I can categorically say that negative affirmations work. Most of my clients have negative affirmations going round their head whether ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘I’m not acceptable’ or ‘I can’t do it’.

So affirmations can work right? Yes and no. They do work because this negative thinking is habitual. It is unconscious. Logic says if you replace these ‘negative’ thinking with positive thinking then all will be OK. However trying to change thinking is like trying to swim against the tide. It is exhausting and you rarely get where you want to be!

The things we struggle with in life are caused by our thinking. We often blame our circumstances, our boss or the people in power for our lack of wellbeing. However nothing has the power to make us feel anything. We live in the experience of our thinking. What we think about our circumstances creates our experience. And our thinking changes moment to moment which is why sometimes life feels harder than other times when actuality circumstances haven’t changed.

So if the problem lies in our thinking surely we should change it? Trying to change thinking with thinking is just creates more thinking. More noise in your head. Less clarity. Less peace of mind. Thinking is deceptive. You can’t out-whit your thinking when it tells you a story about yourself. If your thinking is telling you that you are no good trying to engage with it and tell it all the reason why it is wrong is like trying to wrestle a giant octopus. It keeps coming back at you with more and more reasons why it’s right.

But the thing is it isn’t right.

Thinking is nothing but an illusion of reality. Thinking tells you stories about yourself. We get tricked by our thinking. In the same way the alcoholic gets tricked by their thinking that the next drink is going to make them happy, we get fooled in to believing all sorts of stories our thinking tells us about ourselves.

I used to think I am a born worrier, that it’s my default setting. The thing is we are not our thinking. Thinking is not truth. Our default emotional setting is one of complete peace of mind and innate wellbeing. Look at kids. They have complete sense of wellbeing. They don’t have these stories in their head. We learn them as we grow up. I learnt to worry by being in an environment where I had to constantly think about how I could get a favourable response from people. It’s a thinking habit, not a default setting.

Trying to consciously fight thinking habits with new thinking is hard work. When you begin to see what thinking is, just a story, not truth you can begin to tune in to your default setting. Inner pace and wellbeing. We all have it. We were born with it and it is still inside us. We just spend too much time listening to the stories our thinking tells us instead of recognising them as just that, stories.

So don’t try and fill your head with new ‘positive’ stories. You don’t need to. When you stop giving your attention to your thinking you find your true self. Which is one that is just OK as you are. And when you come back to that place you automatically get even better in every way every day!

If you would like to explore how I can help you whether on the phone or at my Cornwall practice or via Skype (I work with clients all over the world) contact me for a conversation.

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