After the incredible popularity of the book The Secret it seems the act of “thinking positive” has been touted as the be all end all of manifesting our dreams. Most supporters of the law of attraction will tell you that all you need to do is “think about what you want and don’t think about what you don’t want” to make all of your dreams come true. But is that really what it’s all about?
I’ve recently finished writing a book called The Elements which is a strategic guide to manifesting the life of our dreams and The Secret was where it all began. I read it and things started to change in my life. I became a professional mixed martial artist, graduated business school with honors and opened a business of my own. I started to do ok but I wasn’t quite living the life of my dreams, at least not yet. It seemed that things would go well for a bit then they’d come crashing down. Just when things started to go the way I wanted they would flip upside down and I’d find myself struggling again. How could this be? I knew that so many people have apparently used the law of attraction to manifest their dreams yet I was still struggling. This sent me down a rabbit hole of research and what I found on the other end was all of the stuff you’re not going to read in The Secret.
It turns out that “thinking positive” is really just a piece of the puzzle. The really important pieces are rooted in where our thoughts come from in the first place. Most of the times our thoughts are just an almost automatic product of our belief structures, most of which are formed from our experiences, including our excitement and our fear. When we experience something exciting in life, whether it’s something we want or don’t want we form a belief structure in our mind, allowing us to recognize similar situations in the future before they completely unfold so we can make a judgment without having to fully experience it again.
An example of this is getting embarrassed while public speaking as a child. The experience of embarrassment creates a belief structure that speaking publicly is painful and unless we work to change this belief most of us grow up with an intense fear of public speaking, one that often rivals the fear of death. Because of this whenever we think of public speaking we might say that our thoughts about it are “negative,” when in fact the thoughts we have are actually acting as tool to show us where we should put our attention. By observing our thoughts and seeing that they are associated with pain we can try to understand where and why that pain exists and work to change that belief around. When we do this our thoughts automatically become more “positive” as a by-product. This can help us realize that seemingly negative thoughts though not always pleasant can be very productive to our growth.
Based on this idea when we start to experience situations in our life that cause discomfort we can start to question that discomfort and where it might be rooted from. When we start to question our beliefs and work to change them we can free ourselves from limitations and fears that no longer serve us. When we do this we start to experience a greater richness to life and become much better at creating the life we want.
The fact is, no matter how great you are at the law of attraction discomfort will still exist, it has to. The universe must balance itself and during our times of contrast we become more efficient at knowing what it is we want through experiencing what it is we don’t want. If we’ve never tried ice cream then how can we possibly pick vanilla over chocolate? We have to try both in order to make a choice.
So then, is it really about positive thinking? No, not at all. It’s about remaining optimistic through the challenging times in life because we understand that they are molding us to be stronger and more resilient. It’s about trusting that the contrast we are experiencing now is leading us to the life we’ve imagined. In the end, it’s about having faith that although times may be tough and aren’t quite what you expected they can and will reveal themselves to be exactly what you needed, at exactly the right time for exactly the right reasons.
By Ricky Goodall, Meditation Instructor & Certified Nutrition Coach