One of the most referenced researchers in the field of positive thinking makes some very useful observations about what positive thinking can do for us. However, is positive thinking alone enough to help you achieve your highest goals?
Barbara Frederickson published a landmark psychology paper on Personal Social Psychology titled, “Open Hearts Build Lives: Positive Emotions Induced Through Loving Kindness Meditation, Build Consequential Personal Resources.” In this paper, Frederickson reveals some secrets that have been sought for decades now about how positive thinking affects our everyday lives.
Frederickson details how:
Her study basically found that by thinking positively, you can increase a sense of possibility and your ability to see many options. Some call this creativity. Essentially, thinking positively builds real-life skills that can lead to success later in life.
What happens, though, when you find yourself consistently having negative, sad or depressed thoughts, even if you don’t want to? What do you do when you really desire to be a positive person, but self-defeating, self-limiting thoughts continue to keep you in a small, small world of your own design?
Consciously you want to be happy, successful and cooperative with others. Consciously you tell yourself that you won’t keep eating cake when you are trying to lose weight or that this will be your last cigarette. Then, sure enough, you watch yourself indulge in the very same behaviors, become depressed, beat yourself up and start another viscous cycle of negative thinking.
Carl Jung, the famous psychologist and errant student of Freud could sum up what’s happening to you quite well:
“There are certain events of which we have not consciously taken note; they have remained, so to speak, below the threshold of conscious. They have happened, but they have been absorbed subliminally.”
In essence, your subconscious mind is running the show.
Other researchers call this the two-tiered brain. While we may have success in some endeavors, including our desire to think and behave more positively, in other areas, we are doomed to fail until we address the lurking, deep, subconscious beliefs that may or may not be helping us get where we want to go.
If we look at a real-life example, a student’s ability to perform well on tests can be influenced greatly simply by what a teacher thinks of the student. In other words, if a teacher—someone of great influence in most young people’s lives—thinks that a student has great intellectual capacity, then that student will subconsciously absorb that belief about themselves, and do well academically. When a teacher thinks very lowly of a student’s abilities, then they will also tend to reflect this back in their own self-regard, performing to the teacher’s low expectations.
If a student really wishes to do well on a test, but has a subconscious belief that they are stupid or can’t perform well, then they will usually follow the subconscious belief, almost always superseding the conscious desire.
How to Change the Subconscious Mind
Past traumas, large and small, as well as positive beliefs, are stored in our subconscious minds. People who tend to realize their goals easily and can stay positive without much effort likely have a decent set of subconscious beliefs. These people only represent about ten percent of the population, though. The rest of us need to get into our subconscious minds and do some house cleaning. Until we remove the limiting subconscious beliefs, and replace them with self-actualizing ones, we’ll feel like Sisyphus pushing a boulder up a hill.
There are a couple of healing modalities which can help us to install positive subconscious beliefs, which then manifest as positive change in our lives:
Limiting subconscious beliefs affect all aspects of our lives including: our relationships, self-esteem, financial prosperity, career choices and even our health and fitness. By accessing our subterranean beliefs, bringing them to the surface, and then healing them, we can get the most out of positive thinking and other conscious endeavors to create a whole and holistic life.
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