Is Positive Thinking Actually Making Us Even More Depressed?
Everywhere you turn we are being told to be positive, grateful and happy but it’s not working because everywhere you look people are getting more and more, depressed, angry and suicidal....
I have read so many books like ‘The Secret’ and ‘The Subconscious Mind’ over and over again in my life, all in a quest to find happiness, to find abundance and to find the ultimate human joy, security. All of those types of books tell us the same thing. DO NOT BE NEGATIVE, it will attract a life of misery, be POSITIVE and you will be a millionaire….
Well, I’m sorry to burst everyone’s bubble but I think we have been sold a crock of shit and I think the western philosophy of always being positive is actually making us even more depressed and here’s why.
We no longer honour our true feelings and we should because they are all part of the human experience and they help us to grow.
Being sad, angry, jealous, proud, disappointed and grieving are just as important as feeling the physical pain you encounter when you put your hand on a hot stove. We learn from negative feelings and to deny them and try to override them with fake positivity is detrimental to our mental health.
Emotions both good and bad help us to grow and by not honouring our negative feelings we are pushing them in to a melting pot where they multiply and fester making us even more depressed and ill.
Years ago, when I was feeling down (suicidal in fact) a good friend of mine called me on the phone and said she was coming round to see me. I begged her not to but she is a great person and within 10 minutes she was banging on my door. I opened it with a forced smile to which she said, “For fucks sake, please don’t pretend to be happy. Let’s relish in the fact you are depressed. Let’s order pizza and sit on all duvets and pillows in the house watching sad films and crying. If you’re gonna be depressed.” She said wisely, “At least enjoy the mother fucking thing and really go there.”
Of course, at these wonderful words I felt instantly better and it was my first realisation, that the more we fight our true feelings the longer they actually hang around, trying to be noticed doubling and tripling the pain we would have felt, in an effort to make us feel something at least.
It’s like if you have a headache, the more you fight having that headache, the more you tense up. You screw your face up and stiffen your jaw in a quest to get rid of the pain but of course the headache just gets worse as you slowly tense up. However, if you accept and welcome that headache, almost revelling in the pain and relaxing in to it, well that headache often then just disappears.
So, if you’ve split from a lover and you are feeling devastated, feel the pain, don’t shy away from it. Enjoy the romance of it. Let your heart break, feel the burn and loss, let it fill you up. It’s what you are supposed to feel and I guarantee it will pass much more quickly than if you just try to get on with things.
If you’ve lost your job or didn’t get that job you went for, it’s ok to be pissed off, it’s ok to be jealous. Let yourself go there. Let yourself feel for pity’s sake!
Obviously, if you read these so called ‘self help’ books they lead you to believe that it’s your fault your life is shit and you know what, maybe it is but not because you’re not ‘positive enough’ it’s more likely because you have denied your true feelings and so you are not functioning properly as a human being and the child inside you wonders why on earth you don’t hear her screaming, so she fucks you up by making you even more depressed than you would have been had you just listened to how you actually truly felt about something in the first place.
So, don’t deny yourself your negative feelings because let me tell you, that won’t stop you making a million. Not being able to get out of bed because you’re depressed because you’re not allowing yourself to be real will stop you!
I work with a lot of kids and maybe it’s because I’m smaller than them or maybe it’s because I truly do not judge them but kids tend to open up to me.
So many of them tell me they have anxiety attacks and that there is even an anxiety room in some schools. Why aren’t these kids being told that what they are feeling is fear and that that is ok. We all get scared and it makes us all feel dizzy and our hearts race but it’s not as dramatic as an ‘anxiety attack’ and let’s look at the use of the word ‘attack’ there, that really isn’t a very useful word rto use and hypes up those feelings even more. What they are feeling is normal, it is fear and everybody feels it.
I have so many teenage boys tell me they have ‘anger problems’ but who is telling them that? If they are angry, that also signifies depression, which tells me that these kids are angry because they are being misunderstood and they are not being listened to.
‘Positive thinking’ is killing us. Let’s be positive about feelings by letting them breath. Yes, our reactions to things makes a huge difference to the outcome of a situation but to deny our humanness only intensifies the negative.
These positive thinking books talk about the laws of nature and physics as unlocking the secrets to a happy fulfilled life but they totally ignore one vital law of physics.
Two positives equal a positive but a negative and a positive equal a negative (reaction) while two negatives remarkably equal a positive.
Proof enough for us to not try and drown our sorrows in ‘positives’ as it will only make us worse. Instead relish the negative feelings and positivity will come naturally and quickly.
There really is beauty in all things and all things must be considered both good and bad for a balanced life.
The Indian philosopher Osho was introduced to me by not long ago and he is a man that believes that too much positive thinking is bad for us and here’s a few of his reasons why.
“Sadness gives depth.
Happiness gives height.
Sadness gives roots.
Happiness gives branches.
Happiness is like a tree going into the sky, and sadness is like the roots going down into the womb of the earth.
Both are needed, and the higher a tree goes, the deeper it goes, simultaneously.
The bigger the tree, the bigger will be its roots. In fact, it is always in proportion.
That's its balance.”
“To be a sufferer of depression simply means he has repressed too much. Depression is nothing but repression. He is depressed so much because he has not been allowed to express himself. “
So please, the next time life throws you a bad card, don’t (de)repress how you truly feel about it. We do not have to be perfect, we can say it’s not fair.
Honour your feelings like an old friend who has come to stay for a while and be positive about them by allowing yourself to really feel them and therefore really move forward.