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Transformation through Negativity – Yes!

November 30, 2013

In the blog entry The Death of the Ego I mentioned that ‘Positive thinking nearly killed me’. This is true. Allow me to elaborate…

There is a fantastic book entitled ‘Smile or Die’ by Barbara Ehrenreich in this Barbara discusses the Positive Thinking movement and specifically the Law of Attraction. Barbara was diagnosed with breast cancer and this led to her increasing frustration and sense of isolation that her anger (her reality) towards her condition was not being given air time. She was seen as being ‘negative’ and that led to her entire belief system to come crashing down around her ears. She had previously bought into the Positive Thinking ethos, to a certain degree, and found that as her real-time situation overwhelmed her with negativity, pain and fear, all those expectations around thinking herself well, well, just failed to work. The more she investigated this subject the more she found teachers, workshop attendees, groups and societies simply shunned her experience because it was ‘negative’. She was encouraged to ‘Imagine the healthy cells eating the cancer cells’ and when this didn’t work she assumed that she must be doing it wrong, that it was her fault. The same happened to me whilst I was being forcibly plummeted into despair as I lost my home, my health, my money and my friends back in April of this year. It was a different condition but the destructive effect was the same – I was being ‘negative’ or ‘not seeing things clearly’ and thus was shunned by the very people I had previously looked to for support and guidance. When I was no longer able to be positive (because I felt so crap) I imploded, along with all my previous expectations around exactly what all this Positive Thinking and Law of Attraction was going to produce for me. It didn’t bear fruit and thus I could fight no more to stay positive. I became a Negative Thinker. This ‘negativity’ (which I now real-ise was simple reality) resulted in an in-patient stay in a suicide prevention unit. What happened in this unit was nothing short of miraculous and I will tell you why:

I was allowed to be negative. The staff and service users of the facility had no choice but to be themselves. Everyone’s previous expectations of a happy life with financial security, ‘sanity’, friends who supported them, family, hopes, wishes and dreams came tumbling down along with the veils of illusion. Sometimes – shit happens and ignoring it because it is ‘negative’ is not only unhelpful, it is inhumane. Now let me tell you a little about alchemy…

On my first day in the suicide prevention unit one of the male staff there facilitated my first ‘keywork’ session. His first words were: ‘It takes balls to ask for help. Good on you man’. It was as if someone had finally seen me. Someone had dared to look into my pain without shying away or therapeutically babbling both our ways out of the reality of ‘what is’. I was in the shit and all I needed was for someone to recognise this and to not run away from it. This in itself automatically enabled me to at least take that first step on the ladder towards recovery. Had he come up with some therapeutic tool, technique or affirmation to ‘re-programme’ the ‘negativity’ that would simply have served as yet another unrealistic expectation; delusion. Here is something else Positive Thinking does (and something Barbara talks about in her book) – it scorns the person and judges their real life situation. It says: ‘You have failed because your life is negative. You are not doing the Positive Thinking correctly, otherwise you wouldn’t be in this mess’. This is, quite simply, a load of bollocks. Sometimes life gets tough, sometimes we suffer and sometimes our entire way of being falls into a pit of despair and there is nothing left to do but just get on with it. Getting on with it is real, untouched and something quite beautiful. I am beautiful. Just the way I am.

And so are you.

Here’s to your beauty….

With Much Love,

Matt xx

PS Oh, and just to pop all this in a succinct nutshell, Barbara’s dedication in her book reads: ‘To complainers everywhere: Turn up the volume!’

Reference: Ehrenreich, Barbara, Smile or Die. Published by Granta Publications 2009, London ISBN: 978 1 84708 173 5

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