I often see inspirational quotes shared about staying positive and the need to have a positive mindset in order to achieve your goals. But is that really the case? Does convincing your mind to be positive really lead to manifestations of everything you’ve dreamed of and make you happy? Or is it denying so called “negative” emotions or even a “negative” mindset? In reality there are NO negative emotions and no such thing as negative energy. Negative emotions do not attract more negativity and positive emotions do not necessarily attract a positive, rosy external or internal world. The very idea of that has detrimental implications about socioeconomic circumstances and systemic racism. Uh oh - I see you pulling away, clutching your copy of The Secret and getting defensive of the Law of Attraction. That’s okay!
I know when I am feeling overcome with grief or depressed and I see a quote about how a positive outlook is what will set you straight and bring more positivity into your life, it only makes me feel more depressed and grief-stricken. What is wrong with me that I don't have a positive mindset in that moment filled with rainbows and sugar plum fairies? How do you flip the switch? Well, really there is nothing wrong with any reaction, emotion, thought or feeling and you can't just cognitively switch over to positivity. We all feel a whole range of emotions and mindsets that we need to acknowledge and process without getting pulled in to a story line. Look at the vagus nerve and how it automatically triggers physiological responses in your body in a given situation. It is not necessarily negative that you have anxiety or shutdown at times because of a trauma in your past; it is your body's miraculous way of protecting you based on past conditioning which you likely had no control over (more on that later).
We are not always positive and that can be really nice to hear when you feel like a big pile of donkey doo. I found this basic idea articulated MUCH better by Hareesh (a.k.a. Christopher Wallis) in his blog posts about Near Enemies of the Truth. Hareesh,Ph.D., is a scholar of Sanskrit and the Philosophy of Classical Indian Religions and also a Tantric practitioner. He bases his discussions and teachings directly on ancient teachings and historical sources. Also the Tantric tradition is not that sexy “tantric yoga” that developed in the 70s, but a tradition that dates back to around 600 CE and spans several religious traditions (e.g., Hinduism, Buddhism) and cultures.
Hareesh uses logical arguments based in philosophy and he is also very spiritual and dedicated to his practice. I say this because you may initially get very defensive of some of his arguments, but I implore you to dig a little deeper, lean in and read his blog on the near enemies to shed what might be a different light on many commonly used ideas that we often share in our spiritual circles. In terms of this idea of positivity, I find #4, #6 and #11 particularly pertinent. Numero 6 is near and dear to my heart if I had to choose just one to help illuminate my point here.
So What is a Near Enemy of the Truth? According to Hareesh, “Borrowing this phrase from Buddhism, I use it to refer to slightly distorted versions of spiritual teachings—statements that are close to a profound and subtle truth, but are distorted just enough to make a big difference over time. When we’re talking about deep and fundamental truths, getting it a little bit wrong doesn’t matter in the short run, but it does in the long run, just like a tiny adjustment to the rudder of your boat makes little difference at first, but after 1000 miles, it lands you on a different continent.”
Here is the list of all 15 in case you want to dig deeper! In case you haven’t put it together yet, I, too, am a Tantrika ;-) Link to Hareesh's BLOG. P.S. I have wrongly used many of these in the past and I apologize if I led you astray.
Everything Happens for a Reason
Everything Happens for the Best
Listen to your Heart
You Create Your Own Reality ***
I want to be my Best Self
Speaking Your Truth
Be in the Present Moment
Finding Your Soul’s Purpose
You Can Choose How to Respond
Follow Your Bliss
I am my Own Guru
All Paths Lead to the Same Goal
Children: proof that we need to process all sorts of emotions and do not need a positive outlook all the time. So much of how we react and respond (in our minds, nervous systems, etc.) is due to conditioning which we did not have control over as children. How liberating and at the same time frightening for parents!