And How To Avoid Blaming Yourself When It Does"
By = Tempest Alexandria Arts
If you're at all involved in the New Age or pagan movements, you probably know that there are a lot of books out there about the power of positive thinking. There's no shortage of gurus ready to teach you all about how the universe really loves you and wants you to get what you want, and for a price they will teach you how to think in order to tap into this power. Because, as they quickly inform you, if you're confused about what you want or need, the universe will be too, which tidily explains why you aren't already rich and happy.
The power of positive thinking is real, of course, insofar as it can do amazing things because the human Will can do amazing things, but there are a major problems with this philosophy, and there are limits to what it can do that most of these gurus fail to address. First, the assumption behind why positive thinking works (that the universe loves you) works as a great excuse for why you need to be taught how to think positively (by buying their books or taking their expensive classes), but ultimately sets you up for failure. Secondly, it's a lot more difficult than the gurus try to make it seem, because the money is in providing a seemingly simple yet ultimately difficult and complex solution, so that you keep buying their books for more insight, more help. Third, it is far too easy to fall into the trap of victim blaming (especially victim blaming yourself) when it fails, which can become a vicious cycle. And fourth, the process can be made more difficult if you have conditions like clinical depression, PTSD, or bipolar disorder, and is not an easy process even without conditions like that. Hopefully, though, you will have a fair idea how to go about the process in a meaningful and realistic way, and be able to help yourself without expensive books or classes, after reading this article.
The central assumption behind the "power of positive thinking" in most New Age philosophy is that God/the universe/the Goddess loves you, and wants you to be happy, but that it can't do that if your thoughts are confused, or you aren't thinking the right way. The idea is that if you don't know what you want, the universe doesn't know what you want either. On the surface, it sounds reasonable and so innocuous, but there are real problems with it that don't really come to light until you've tried it for a decade or more and failed at it, and even then only if you realize there's a problem and stop to analyze it. Because ultimately, the philosophy as it is usually taught is doomed to failure, since the even deeper assumption is that the power of positive thinking can be learned by everyone, it just takes vigilance, and also because the way it is taught is full of flaws; flaws often left in on purpose or added in to begin with, since it makes selling more books easier.
The problem with that assumption that everyone can learn to wield the power of positive thinking is that it isn't true. Getting positive thinking to work for you as it should is one of those things that you can either figure out how to do or you can't, to various degrees. Take lucid dreaming as an example; some people can learn how to do it, and do it easily, others never figure out how to do it at all, still others only manage to lucid dream by accident, and reading books or taking classes doesn't really help much. Similarly, some people can learn to activate the full potential of positive thinking, others never manage it at all, and still others only ever do it by accident, or somewhere else along that spectrum. Books can help, at least in getting the process started, but they can only do so much, and most books on the subject are deeply flawed.
Furthermore, even if you do manage to change your thinking to be positive all the time, that alone may not be enough. The power of positive thinking is a kind of magick, and magick can only influence the odds of something happening, it is still up to other people to have opportunities available for you, and up to you to take said opportunities. After all, you can think as positively as you like in the middle of the Sahara desert, but that's not going to miraculously make water appear out of nowhere. And even if you find an oasis, you still have to walk towards it and drink from its waters; those waters will not come to you.
Now that's not to say the power of positive thinking isn't real, and can't do wonders. It can in fact work, but my stress here is on the can. It can work for you. But not because the universe loves you and wants you to be happy. That belief defies all the evidence. If the universe truly loved us and wanted us to be happy, we would all be immortal, eternally youthful, and eternally healthy, with either no need to eat, or with plenty of food readily available without the need for hard labor. There would be no more menstruation, and people would only be able to have kids if they really wanted to, and the planet would never get overcrowded.
( Continues )