Positively Negative?!

by Christopher Lovejoy on July 1, 2012

When I met him, he was on fire for Christ.

I had never met anyone as impassioned with religious zeal as he was.

I gave him lots of space to open up in public and speak to me of his passion for Christ.

I encouraged him with my religious and spiritual questions to elaborate on his connection with God, and I was a silent witness to my own resistance when something he said or did seemed off.

His every word and gesture was infused by Joy with a capital J. After a while, I stopped trying to understand what he was actually saying and just settled my focus on his incessant Joy.

That is, until he mentioned the failed attempts by his Muslim parents to commit him to a psychiatric ward.

I told him, based on my interaction with him, that he didn’t seem like someone who needed this kind of care. This gave him pause. For one long moment, his Joy settled into a state of peace.

But the fire returned, stronger than ever, making it clear that nothing could break his faith in Christ.

Negative, Neutral, and Positive

They say we live in a world of duality – hot, cold; black, white; hard, soft – but if scientific reality is anything to go by, we live in a world that contains a vast set of ever-shifting continua of values.

Take hot and cold, for instance.

Between melting hot and freezing cold lies an infinite, ever-changing continuum of values: lukewarm; not so hot, not so cold; warm and cool; warming and cooling – all of which are measurable.

But when does it get too hot and when does it get too cold?

This is where personal value judgments come into play.

This bad, this good. This not so bad, this not so good. Wonderful, awful. Ah, just right.

At a spiritual level, we could forgo value judgments altogether, dropping resistance to whatever discomfort we might feel with respect to temperature and just accept it as it is.

Graciously. Equanimously. Uncomplainingly.

But this would require a certain amount of dissociation and disembodiment – a dismissal or denial of how we truly feel about the temperature, i.e., too hot or too cold; too warm or too chilly.

For many people, the hearty exclamation, “this is too cold for me!”, made in the middle of a cold winter, is a valid complaint – valid because it allows for a legitimate correction.

But for others, this complaint is an egregious stain on the spirit.

The Evangelicals of Positivity

Many of us are all too aware of religious fundamentalists and evangelicals, but let’s rap for a moment about the spiritual (and saintly) fundamentalists and evangelicals among us.

You might know them as SNAGs – Sensitive New Age Guys (or Gals).

Let’s be clear: they mean well, they really do. It’s just that their persistent and persevering push for purity borders on a fanatical kind of fascism – a spiritual fascism, if you will.

What am I talking about?

I’m talking about their view and treatment of, and their response to, the following …

  • insults
  • injuries
  • failures
  • mishaps
  • illnesses
  • conflicts
  • diseases
  • dis-ease
  • rejection
  • exclusion
  • accidents
  • tragedies
  • mischances
  • persecution
  • misfortunes
  • misadventures

For them, “it’s all about the energy”, or more precisely, energetic vibrations: positive energy flows where positive attention goes; conversely, negative energy flows where negative attention goes.

The metaphysical formulae are straightforward enough …

positive attention + positive energy = a positive outcome (1)

negative attention + negative energy = a negative outcome (2)

The evangelicals of positivity are very clear on this point: if you intend to attract, create, and manifest a desired effect, result, or outcome, you must have the right energy.

As you might have guessed by now, the “right” energy is positive energy, which arises with positive attention (appreciation and/or anticipation), which in turn yields positive outcomes.

A Policy of Zero Tolerance for Negativity

The saints of positivity are positively selfish when it comes to basking in positivity, and positively neutral when it comes to maintaining equanimity in the face of any and every form of negativity.

Therein lies their secret.

They cultivate a calm, sometimes warm, sometimes cool, always collected, positive regard in response to any and all forms of negative influence, coming both from within and from without.

And they insist that others do the same – or be branded as less than desirable.

Why do they go to such an extreme?

Think of it this way: they view the world as an infinite pool of possibilities, and you, as the conscious observer, have the power to manifest your desires simply by giving them your attention.

To the extent that you’re conditioned to believe that something is real, but to the extent that it comes into conflict with your desire, is the extent to which the manifestation of your desire is delayed.

However …

If you stay true to what you accept as real and good, as real good, you’ll probably bring it to fruition, especially when your desire is strong and persistent, but if you dwell on what you don’t want, with fear, doubt, worry, or concern, you’ll probably manifest it in some form. Why?

Because where thoughts and things are concerned, “like attracts like”.

Can you begin to see why the saints of positivity responsively detach themselves from negativity?

On a scale of 1 to 100, where 1 is extremely negative, 50 is neutral, and 100 is extremely positive, the saints of positivity will not settle for anything less than 100 in their daily affairs. For them, interactions must be positive interactions – with themselves, with others, and with the world at large.

No exceptions allowed – none whatsoever. The taint of negativity cannot be tolerated.

No complaints, no objections, no protestations, no reactions allowed. What. so. ever.

“The Law of Attraction must be obeyed, no matter what”

The Law of Attraction gained widespread popularity with The Secret, but the push for absolute purity has been around for a long time, shifting its allegiance from religion to spirituality, from purity of soul (religious) to purity of spirit (spiritual), with the latter form of purity being an extension of the former.

In this light, the saints of love or duty are nothing if not thorough.

Where purity is at issue, they want it all: not only do they aim to be pure in soul (in who they are and what they have), they also aim to be utterly pure in spirit (in all that they say and do).

By having and maintaining and safeguarding the “right” energy, they feel that they’re more likely to get what they desire, and more likely to get more of what they desire, and if they’re not getting what they desire, then they have to assume they’re harboring or broadcasting the “wrong” energy.

It’s not enough for them to simply feel good each and every waking moment of each and every day.

Even more fundamentally, their overriding imperative is to purify their intentions, in heart and soul, so that they can sustain the “right” energy in alignment with the ironclad Law of Attraction.

The puritans of positivity preach thus:

To attract and secure the objects of your desire, you must shift your energy from negative to positive; the sooner you do this the better it will be for you and those around you.

Everything in this world is composed of energetic vibrations, including us, and the Law of Attraction is acutely sensitive and responsive to your energetic vibrations, negative or positive.

As are the people in your life. Even the dullest of persons are sensitive; they might not be responsive, but they’re sensitive. They know, and they’ll respond to you at a time of their own choosing.

If your vibes are positive, then you’ll attract positive effects, results, and outcomes into your life. If your vibes are negative, then you’ll attract negative effects, results, and outcomes into your life.

If you find that you keep getting what you don’t like or want, then you’re sending out the “wrong” energy. When all is said and done, you’ll attract whatever corresponds to your energy.

Negative energy attracts negative people, outcomes, situations, and circumstances; positive energy attracts positive people, outcomes, situations, and circumstances. “It’s really that simple.”

Shift your energy in a positive direction and you’ll start getting what you desire.

Your energy is conducted by your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, value judgments, desires, intentions, and expectations. Subconsciously, you use them to create situations that correspond to them.

Other people pick up on your energy at a subconscious level. They might not be wholly conscious of your energy; they just get a feeling about you. They’re really picking up on your energy.

If you carry and send out negative vibes, you’ll inevitably attract negative counterparts.

Unfortunately, it get’s worse.

Putting out negative vibes pushes away positive people, outcomes, situations, and circumstances; as more negative counterparts are attracted, more pain, struggle, and difficulty ensues.

A negative feedback loop is generated, leaving perpetrators going out of their minds with frustration.

If you constantly think the worst, if you’re feeling negative about anything, if you don’t believe you can ever achieve anything worthwhile, if you don’t believe anyone can ever be good or do good, if you’re constantly complaining, if you always see the worst in situations, if you’re always putting others down, and if you’re always being negative, then you’ll continue to harbor and broadcast more negative energy, attracting more negative people, outcomes, situations, and circumstances.

As you keep sending out this negative energy, life continues to get worse and worse and worse …

Life just doesn’t seem to get any better. Being negative is really a luckless, no-win scenario and … (here comes the righteousness!) you should do everything you can to get rid of the negativity.

Please take note of this negative emphasis on get rid of.

Puritanical Suggestions for Shifting Your Energy

The puritans of positivity offer the following simple simplistic, two-pronged approach to negotiating and navigating duality, to be understood, appreciated, and applied in this order:

  1. eliminate negativity
  2. embrace positivity

The puritanicals don’t say release negativity that does not serve you; instead, they insist that you eliminate it altogether. Conversely, they don’t say cultivate positivity, with reference to negativity; instead, they insist that you embrace it wholeheartedly in spite of any negativity that might inform.

These are subtle but important differences (as you will soon see).

With this context in mind, the puritanical preachers preach thus:

To eliminate your negative thoughts, feelings, beliefs, value judgments, desires, intentions, and expectations, you must begin by changing the way you look at things.

Remember: “when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

As soon as you do this, you’ll shift your energy and attract what you desire.

More practically …

  • focus exclusively on positive outcomes
  • trust that everything is working in your favor
  • always look for solutions rather than problems
  • you must replace judging and blaming with discerning
  • keep thinking of the best in every situation
  • you must believe that you can and will succeed

The saints of positivity maintain that as you make these changes, you condition the powers of your subconscious mind to attract, acquire, and secure whatever you desire.

In other words, you are what you attract and you attract what you are.

The Dark Side of Purity in the Guise of Positivity

The purveyors of purity and positivity justify their position in the world with a “me first” attitude.

They maintain that the world can only get better when they help others help themselves become more proficient at manifesting desired results and creating the lives of their dreams, one person at a time.

As more people purify their intentions and project positivity, the energy of the collective consciousness on this planet will shift in a direction that presumably attracts a more peaceful, more positive world.

As you can see, there’s a lot at stake for them. Hence the fundamentalism and evangelism.

I must say at this point that I am partial to the power of intention-manifestation living and breathing through The Law of Attraction. I am not blind to its potential, to its promises and possibilities.

There is much to recommend it. I rather like having the opportunity to cleanse my connection to the source field of infinite possibilities so that my intentions can have their desired effect.

I mean, who isn’t partial to attracting abundance? Who isn’t partial to having people and resources show up at just the right time for the right reason? Who isn’t partial to healing themselves?

However, I’ve also observed a considerable backlash to the puritanical push for positivity …

True story: a woman is diagnosed with cancer. She undergoes treatment and the cancer goes into remission. Being a true believer in The Law of Attraction, she takes her own life.

Why?

Because, by her way of thinking, there must have been some latent negativity inside her that made her less than pure, and so, if she can’t heal herself, she’s not worthy of life.

True story: a woman is told she has breast cancer. She’s also told that she’s ultimately responsible for this diagnosis; if she wants healing, she must cultivate a positive attitude.

Why?

Because every form of illness and disease is the result of negative thinking. Outcome: by her own admission, this woman declares she’s meaner and more cynical than ever.

True story: a man is summarily dismissed from his job without warning, without any reason given.

After accepting placement in a career transition program, he’s confronted by uncompromising positivity that the loss of his job is “a good thing”, an opportunity for a fresh start, a new lease on life! In other words, he better not let any negative feelings get in the way of making good on this opportunity.

As a result, he feels invalidated.

He wonders: what am I to do with my feelings of bewilderment? If I can’t share them (knowing that they’ll be validated), how can I ever process them so that they don’t undercut my positivity?

True story: a famous guru conducts a retreat for spiritual warriors. The culminating event is a sweat lodge inside a makeshift structure (not a teepee) covered with plastic tarps and blankets.

Some 56 people are crowded into this sweat lodge, which is less than 5 feet high in the middle and just 30 inches at the sides, and about 24 feet across, with only one exit. It is completely dark.

The guru starts chanting and pouring water onto the red hot rocks brought into a pit in front of him.

By the second 15-minute round, one man begins staggering around, in danger of falling into the pit of hot stones. It is clear to one spiritual warrior that “this is really heavy duty”. By the fourth round, the intense heat and lack of air are more than many of the warriors can bear.

One warrior calls out: “I need to get out!”, but the guru, in his infinite wisdom, keeps saying, “you can get through this. It’s mind over matter. Ignore what your body is telling you.”

During the fifth round, a disoriented man begins screaming and yelling after he falls into the pit, badly burning his arm. Some start vomiting. One unconscious woman is dragged to safety.

One of the rescuers comes back to take his place, notices the woman next to him, and shouts, “she’s not breathing! I can’t get her to move!” Everyone starts yelling.

The guru goes ballistic and shouts, “everybody quiet down! I’m in charge here! The door is now closed and this round has now begun and we will deal with that at the end of the next round.”

He continues the ceremony for a full eight rounds, continuing to admonish people not to leave.

By the end of the eighth round, after some two hours, it’s obvious that the sweat lodge has become a tragedy. Some lie unconscious inside; others are dragged out, vomiting and foaming at the mouth.

One warrior reports: “I heard a snorting sound coming from her. I didn’t know if she was passed out or asleep, but it was a really bizarre gurgling, snorting sound. Outside, I saw this woman on her side, barely breathing, not responding, her eyes rolled back in her head, mucous coming out of her nose and mouth. A lot of other people couldn’t walk. Their motor skills were gone.”

Of the warriors who participate, three die. Eighteen are hospitalized.

Even before the sweating began, one woman had serious doubts in her heart about the setup, but said nothing. About a year ago, the organizer was convicted of three counts of negligent homicide.

As I said, the patrons of positivity mean well, but as you can see, their insistence on pure positive intentions can attract some less than positive counterparts in a variety of unintended ways.

Their policy of zero tolerance for negativity can be quite deadly – for themselves and others.

A simple, easy lesson can be learned here: negativity informs.

Discernment is desirable, but sound judgment is necessary.

The Gospel of Positivity According to the Saints of Love and Duty

More practical preaching from the purveyors of purity and positivity …

If you’re not getting what you want, it’s time to change the way you think and act.

During the day, observe how you react to the events and situations in your life, to the things you don’t like or want. Pay attention to comments you make to friends, colleagues, and family members.

Are they positive or negative?

Are you in the habit of pointing out the negative? Do you complain or think the worst? If something goes wrong, do you get angry, blame someone, or indulge a series of negative thoughts?

Or do you focus on solutions, take responsibility, and bring about the changes you desire?

If, in the course of your day, you have a negative reaction to someone or something, then you’re only creating more negative energy and attracting more negative outcomes.

Studies have shown that those who maintain a kinder, more positive, more considerate attitude stand a better chance of realizing their goals and living more fulfilling lives.

Stop being negative. Think positive thoughts and take positive action. Search for solutions. Look at things differently. See the good in others. Take the time to be complimentary.

You can create a better life; you can attract whatever you wish.

You have the power to be, have, and do anything you want.

Shift your energy now and create the life you desire!

Let’s be honest: some good sound advice can be gleaned from this preachy passage.

The question remains, however: where does it go wrong?

Antidotes to the Absolutism of Fundamentalism

When people masturbate, they take the master bait, and before long, they’re sorely tempted into musterbating, mustering everything they’ve got to insist on having things go their own way.

We see this insistence alive and well inside the advice of those who would have you be positively pure for your own good (and for the good of others and the world at large).

They insist that you eliminate your negativity. They insist that you embrace positivity without compromise, in spite of any negativity that might serve to inform you.

With this relentless pressure-cooking, two mutually exclusive cultural approaches to negativity have emerged:

  1. dissociate from any and all negativity within yourself in a spiritual bypass operation
  2. destroy your moral compass and identify with any and all negativity within yourself

The first approach is obvious, and is usually accomplished through some form of spiritual practice.

Samadhi, anyone?

The second approach is not so obvious, and seems rather counter-intuitive to the foregoing ideas.

This approach would have you be at choice about any negative trait or quality that affects you. For example, if you feel compelled to call someone an asshole, then get thee before a mirror and speak thus: “I am an asshole.” Claim any and all negative energies until they lose their emotional charge.

As I see it, here are the antidotes:

  1. Be aware that negativity can arise in your experience at any moment; make a sincere attempt to respond rather than react, to let the negativity inform you even as it disturbs you
  2. Get in the habit of releasing (not eliminating) any negativity that no longer serves you; on the flip side, cultivate a garden of flowers while granting the weeds a right to be there

Just remember: pulling weeds can be done without the absolutistic fervor.

Insistence breeds resistance. Rather, be the change you wish to see and let this state of being serve as your guide. If your conscience requires that you expose wrongdoing, then so be it.

Words Have the Power to Define You

“But I’m not strong enough. I’m not brave enough. I’m not smart enough. I’m not good enough.”

You might have a particular situation in mind when you utter these statements, and that’s fine, but when you burp them up as wholesale beliefs, they confess an appalling lack of personal worth.

You might not even utter them out loud, but merely sense them as integral to who and what you are.

These statements are needlessly negative because they cramp your identity; they filter your experience, placing limits on your sense of promise and possibility, restricting opportunities for expression.

One way through these statements is to simply affirm how you feel in the moment: I feel weak, I feel scared, I feel stupid, I feel bad. Welcome the feeling, allow it to be just as it is, and then release it.

Another way of dealing with attachments to negative energy is to view them as habits.

Deliberately gathering experiences that reinforce your sense of wisdom can serve to discharge the negativity in thinking, “I’m not wise enough”. If I feel less than wise, and wisdom is important to me, I might make a daily habit of reading inspirational words of wisdom and sharing them appropriately.

The same reasoning applies to cultivating a sense of strength, courage, intelligence, or beneficence.

Yet another way of negotiating labels (positive or negative) is to minimize their importance, viewing them as the overgeneralizations that they are. “Sometimes I’m brave; sometimes I’m not. It’s okay to be human; it’s okay to be vulnerable, all for the sake of easy come, easy go.”

Give perfection a kick in the ass and move on.

Be a witness to peace, healthy pride, and wholesome pleasure without bypassing the pain.

On How to Confront the Puritanical Saints of Positivity

I’d like to wrap this up with some ideas on confronting the saints.

Just to be clear: there are two ways to interpret the term confront.

I could meet a saint face to face with hostile or argumentative intent (not recommended) or I could meet said saint with the intention of dealing – of dealing with the problem or difficulty at hand.

This could mean dealing with it on your own behalf or on the behalf of someone else.

Remember, too, that saints are of two types – the uncompromising saints of love and the self-righteous saints of duty – and it really should go without saying that they require separate handling.

For myself, the saints of love are easier to deal with as they are quite lovely, and at times quite alluring and persuasive, but they can also be quite annoying in their capacity to be uncompromising.

The saints of love emphasize the positivity (obviously), bypassing the negativity as if it doesn’t exist, and because they do so, they do not and can not and will not allow the negativity to inform them.

In dealing with saints of love, I merely need to affirm my right to speak truth to darkness. I need not argue, I need not insist; I merely need to affirm my right to bring darkness to the light of love.

That’s it.

If they resist, I merely affirm; if they insist, I merely affirm.

And when their infinitely loving patience finally cracks, revealing a tiny hint of darkness, indicating that they do in fact belong to the human race, crack a tiny smile and let your eyes sparkle with merriment.

The saints of duty, on the other hand, are a peculiar breed.

Although some of them would never admit this, they’re the ones who care more about being right than being happy. Right about what? Right about the need – nay, the imperative – to eliminate negativity.

It’s quite ironic to think that they would be so negative about eliminating negativity. Interestingly, the saints of love are natural allies and will naturally forgive this negativity in the name of positivity.

Until they’re led to their deaths like lambs to the slaughter.

Naturally, too, the temptation to confront saints of duty with hostile intent is strong. I mean, if you’ve been delivered a dreadful diagnosis with a righteous tone of “you need to be more positive”, …

In this dark, informing light, it would do us well to remember that the fruit of stress, struggle, and strain is more stress, struggle, and strain. Confronting saints of duty requires a different tactic.

But first, you need to educate yourself about their motivation.

Where do they get off on being so righteous about positivity?

The answer is hugely complicated; psychologically, it has to do with claiming rock-solid purity and security through positivity by following a most certain line of reasoning that goes like this:

Not only do you live and breathe your thoughts day in and day out, not only do your thoughts generate beliefs (and doubts), and not only do your thoughts become things, but … with your quiet, inner voice, you have the power – the power – to choose, change, and create your thoughts.

Your thoughts generate your beliefs (and doubts), which are charged with feelings, emotions, and desires, which resonate at various vibrational frequencies, which have the effect of attracting (or repelling) both positive and negative outcomes into your life and relationships.

Here are some of the puritanical implications …

If you aim to take control of your thoughts (beliefs, feelings, desires, outcomes, destiny), you must first become better acquainted with the tone and dynamic of your inner voice.

If you’re telling yourself it’s okay to be lazy – to eat yet another box of Krispy Kreme donuts or tub of Häagen-Dazs super premium ice cream – then you’ve given away your power to your thoughts.

To guide the course of your life, you must awaken to the expression of your thoughts, which serve to generate beliefs that either entangle you or empower you, limit you or free you.

You absolutely, positively must embrace the thoughts (beliefs, feelings, desires, intentions) that make you happy, fulfilled, and free, and you must silence and eliminate the ones that don’t.

You must, you must, you must, I tell you!

Purify yourself with positivity so that you …

  • no longer attract insults!
  • no longer get hurt or injured!
  • no longer feel rejected or excluded!
  • no longer get sick, fat, or tired!
  • no longer experience mishaps!
  • no longer get into a conflict!
  • no longer contract a disease!
  • no longer feel ill at ease!
  • no longer get into an accident!
  • no longer feel persecuted!
  • no longer attract misfortune!
  • no longer take unnecessary risks!
  • no longer feel inclined to object!
  • no longer feel inclined to complain!
  • no longer feel inclined to protest!
  • no longer feel inclined to react!
  • no longer fail at anything!
  • no longer feel upset about anything!
  • yippee!

Alright, let’s get serious for a moment.

At this point, you might feel tempted to do serious damage to a saint of duty the next time you meet one, but please don’t. Instead, do yourself this favor: give credit where credit is due.

Usually, a kernel of truth resides within even the blackest cloud of righteousness.

Find it. Acknowledge it.

Express it in a way that affirms your ability to speak loving truth to righteous power. Doing this will help you determine whether you’re dealing with a righteous moment or a righteous person.

If you realize that you’re dealing with a righteous person – a puritanical saint of duty – then you need to do something important for the sake of your dignity. Affirm, and keep affirming, as follows:

“I may be responsible for this, but I’m not guilty in the way you think I am.”

Easier said than done, because you need to know in the heart of your soul that you really are free of guilt, and if you are, then I can’t think of a more positively negative thing to say.

Because the saints of duty cannot know your heart as well as you do, they might argue with you: “you are responsible for this”. With a slow and calming nonchalance, reply thus: “I may be”.

And if you’re in the mood to play, you might also add, with a fun-loving tone of mischief: “my dear saint, you might want to turn your eyes inward and take a close look at your lust for judgment”.

Oh, by the way, with respect to the man on fire for Christ: saint of love or saint of duty?

Hints: the heart of his soul seemed secure enough to have his love express a spirit of joy; also, there didn’t seem to be much insistence that I convert to his way of thinking …

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