The Pursuit of Positive Thinking: Seeing Is Believing
06.13.2014 by Dr Bob Wright
The power of positive thinking is a very important concept; however, it can be misunderstood.
In tandem with that are affirmations and developing positive, empowering beliefs – all geared to realizing our potential. Positive thinking requires first of all that we know what we’re really thinking. Developing empowering beliefs requires that we recognize our disempowering beliefs. These positive beliefs are constantly being undercut by what Adlerians call our limiting beliefs or our mistaken perceptions.
Positive thinking is way more than talking to myself with kind language. It requires me to see myself doing things and actually feel myself doing those things. The human potential movement is full of people scrambling to harness the power of positive thinking, and the precious few of them understand that developing positive beliefs requires that we recognize our limiting beliefs.
Affirmations must also be designed to not work against us. For example, if I have an affirmation that I will not smoke, my unconscious mind hears “smoke, I will smoke.” The unconscious mind is very primitive and doesn’t necessarily hear things the way that you think them. Beneath that are limiting beliefs, such as, “I can’t handle the anxiety,” or “I’m not good enough for this.” We all have limiting beliefs. I don’t care if your name is Jack Welsh, President Obama, or Susie Q next door. We all have limiting beliefs and we can all benefit from the power of positive thinking.
If we really want to develop positive beliefs, we must first identify our limiting beliefs and see the positive intent behind them.
Sometimes, for example, if I say to myself, unconsciously or consciously, “I can’t do it,” I’m really trying to protect myself from failure. There’s still another limiting belief that says I’m a failure: maybe that I don’t believe I can handle success. So if I want to develop an affirmation that will help me develop positive beliefs, then my positive thinking has to start with the truth: the truth of my limiting thoughts.
Our fear is designed to help us move from danger to safety. Our hurt is designed to help us move toward healing. Our anger is designed to move away from danger and to acquire things that are desirable. Our sadness is basically the loss of the pleasure, and joy is pure joy. When we believe that any of those are bad or wrong, we have invalidated our experience as human beings and we have a belief that limits our power.
The positive thinking that I’m talking about developing is the belief that emotions are all positive if they’re properly used.
Anger can be destructive, but it can also help us achieve. Fear can limit us and keep us from moving, but it can also warn us of danger. Hurt lets us know where the pain is so we can respond and get ourselves healed. Sadness is part of mourning so that we let go of a lost pleasure and can recoup joy and move on with our lives. As you move in the pursuit of positive thinking this week, think about this empowering belief: your feelings–all of them–are divine and to be honored.
Whether it’s fear, hurt, anger, sadness, or joy, we will work on developing the positive belief that our emotions are good and can harness us develop our human potential. The power of positive thinking begins with recognizing our limiting beliefs. Limiting beliefs include: anger is bad, anger hurts, anger destroys. Anger can hurt and destroy but it can also do all kinds of great things and save people’s lives. Anger is a force to be harnessed and also a force that is designed to protect and help achieve things.
So, we’re working on developing the empowering beliefs that emotions in general are positive if harnessed correctly, and this week I’m asking you to think about anger and how it can be used in a positive way. This is the element of the power of positive thinking that I’m asking you to think about this week, and the affirmation that I’m going to suggest is “I harness anger for good.” Simply think about it, and see if you can notice your anger a little more this week and see if you can harness it to a positive desirable outcome. Sure sometimes it’s not going to work, you can choose that not working to affirm a limiting belief or you can recognize it as a limiting belief that’s keeping you from learning how to use it more effectively.
Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.