Archive for October 10th, 2007

Thoughts are just thoughts

Posted on October 10, 2007. Filed under: Philosophy, Spirituality |

I’ve become aware of a lot of buzz recently about “positive thinking”, “banishing negative thoughts”, and blaming “victims” for their condition. I imagine all these are coming into my awareness as issues that wish to be looked at. I always welcome the opportunity to look at what “pushes my buttons.” (well, maybe not always!…)

A lot of the buzz is about the book and documentary called The Secret, which I’ve referenced on other posts. That production must be very powerful, as it has generated great emotion from adulation to outright hatred and ridicule. As I’ve said before, I think the title is an unfortunate marketing choice–from my position–because it implies, or actually states that the tricks, tools and philosophical amalgams presented are “newly discovered ancient knowledge.”

Many of the principles presented have been taught continuously for millennia, and to imply they are “secrets” discredits many tools which have worked well for a long time. The good thing about The Secret is that it has presented the material to a wider audience. It is my hope that those who are attracted to the ideas in it will look further.

I watched the original documentary, and the Oprah and Larry King shows about it, but have not read the book. I will say that I admire and am inspired by about half of the teachers in the video. I have noticed that a number of them have somewhat distanced themselves from the project, and I can understand this. I think it contributes as much to misunderstanding as it does clarity.

I read a wonderful piece about The Secret by fellow blogger Out of My Head. I hope she won’t mind if I quote part of her quote, particularly if I encourage you to read her post. She has a very reasoned and beautifully presented analysis.

Regarding “Negative Thoughts”: “We just won’t allow them near us. We just won’t allow ourselves to associate with them. And wherever we see them, we will work to eliminate them. For once these negative thoughts are gone, our lives will be everything we ever dreamed.”

Well, if this is a direct quote from the ‘Secret’ material, it’s one of my “button pushing” phrases. I don’t believe there is any such thing as a “negative” thought. Or a “positive” one for that matter, in spite of such book titles as The Power of Positive Thinking. Thoughts are just thoughts, and to assign titles or qualities to them would be to suggest that these qualities are the same for everyone who thinks them. As Out of My Head says there is a sort of robotic quality to these kinds of assertions. Our thoughts are unique, private things. They are our own, and how we relate to them is our own business. I have addressed the issue of “blaming the victim” in another post, so I won’t repeat it here. I will say that a really useful tool for me is to both allow and examine the thoughts I am having. My belief is that our thoughts do create our reality, but not in any blamey, cause-and-effect kind of way that is obvious.

When I allow, even embrace, and then examine my thoughts and emotions, I can ask “Is this belief, response, or feeling serving me?”

“Does the thought advance my well-being, and enable me to take inspired action, whatever that may be?”

If it does, well then, good. If not, THEN it’s time to look into my bag of tricks (and I have some really good tricks in there!) and pull one out to help me refocus upon what will help the most in the situation.

Thoughts are just thoughts. I relax and let them be.

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