In the spiritual development world, we are inundated with the idea of positive thinking.
"We must keep our thinking positive because we are manifesting what we think! Right? We better not have one unhappy thought or we are doomed. That negativity will manifest and we will suffer!" "My problem is just my negative thinking. So I just have to stamp out and obliterate all my negative thinking. Or force myself to only think something positive."
When I first started my spiritual journey, I ate that shit up. Pretty soon I realized I felt so much pressure. I felt the stress of having to watch every thought. If I have a “bad” one, oh no! Why is my thinking still so bad? This is why my life doesn’t look like how I want it! I have to stop it, I have to change it. I would get angry at myself for all the negative approaches my mind would take. I would get down on myself and feel like it was never going to change. I was fearful of what I was creating. If my thoughts manifest, then when I put on my seatbelt and imagined a car crash, oh no, I’m creating a car crash! I started to think I would never understand how to do this. And I certainly did not feel more positive in the long run.
The positive thinking approach didn’t work for me. Not by itself. Because it is fundamentally flawed.
I do believe, however, that we are manifesting our reality, and it is based on “thinking”. The problem is how we use the term thinking. Thinking is not what we think.
Thinking and Manifesting
When we say thinking, we are actually almost always just talking about our conscious mind. The thoughts we are aware of. But this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Most of our thinking is not in our conscious mind! Thinking includes what is happening in our subconscious mind and our superconscious mind. Most of it is invisible to us, if we are in default conscious mode. All of this thinking is creating our physical experience. We are not aware of almost all of it. This is why constant surprises are happening in life all the time. If conscious thinking was really all it took to manifest, then everyone would already be a millionaire. Then putting on the seatbelt would manifest a car crash. It doesn’t. Not by itself.
Manifesting is an accumulation of all our thinking. Conscious thinking is just the surface. We are carrying all our unconscious stuff below the surface, and our entire Soul agenda “above” the surface.
Your conscious thoughts, the ones that you are actually aware of, are just the bubbles that rose to the surface from swirling cauldron of your unconscious. Such a tiny piece. Your conscious thoughts are like the single output that appears as a result of many calculations that you don’t see.
This is weird news, and this is good news. Because we can use this mechanism to our advantage and advance change.
If we want to make a change faster, more efficiently, and with more power, we need to work at the calculation level (the unconscious), not the output level (the conscious).
The output we all want is happiness. That surface output will come to us when we change the calculation underneath.
If your output is unhappy, that’s the result of calculations below the surface. Your subconscious is calculating fear, anger, shame, and grief. Your unconscious is making those calculations because of the memories it holds. It remembers everything, especially the experiences that hurt. If you haven’t processed that pain, it stays in your unconscious with an emotional charge, taking over your calculations, outputting unhappiness. Most of us see this unhappy output and resist it. We say there is something wrong with this output. We try to fix it like it was broken. We try to force our thinking to be something different. But we keep getting unhappy thoughts, the same output.
There is another way. Don’t resist that output, don’t try to change the output. Don’t resist your unhappiness. Just notice the thoughts, feelings, and experiences you are having and realize there is something else creating these. Dive below the surface into the calculations. Go find the deep hurt parts of you creating the unhappiness. That’s where you need to do the work. Not just trying to keep fixing the surface level.
You need to work with all the hurt parts of you, all the parts of you holding fear, shame, anger, and grief. If you resist these thoughts coming up or if you try to force them to be positive, you are actually hurting these parts of you over and over again. These are hurt child parts of us. Resisting them gives them the same experience of separation and rejection that hurt them in the first place!
Intro to Parts Work
To work with these underneath parts, we use emotional processing. We accept all these hurt parts of us. Instead of resisting them, we welcome them. We welcome these unhappy parts with open arms of love. We comfort them, we sooth them like we would a crying child. We tell them it’s not their fault, that they are okay just the way they are. We tell them that it’s completely understandable that they are in pain, because their needs were not met. They were rejected, or frightened, or suppressed. Of course, they feel terrible. We don't try to change them. We validate their pain. We tell them we are not going to reject them or suppress them anymore. We are going to accept them and hear what their little voices have to say. We are going to let their little thoughts express inside us however they want. We are going to give these hurt parts all the love, play, acceptance, and relaxation that they never had, inside our own selves.
This type of work is often called Parts Work. We do this by literally having a dialogue and visualizations with these hurt parts of ourselves. When you have pain come up, talk to the pain. “I feel you pain. Oh you are strong. It hurts. What do you look like?” See if you get an image. Ask it questions. “What do you want to say?” Hear whatever words come. These parts might just need to come out as tears, or shaking, or grunting, or even screaming or punching pillows. This is all HEALING.
We have been taught to suppress all these parts, and that just slows healing. We have been told to be shameful of violent thoughts, intense anger, seemingly endless sadness, or complete disillusionment. "Don’t show anyone, theses feelings are not okay." We think it means we are broken or there is something wrong with us. So we bury them and hide them even from ourselves. This is why our thinking seems so hard to change. We can change our thinking by creating healing at the deep layers. We create healing by accepting these parts of us fully and letting them show us inside what they are holding.
You don't need to show anyone else anything. This process is most often done entirely alone. You don’t need to involve anyone else as these hurt parts express themselves. I completely changed my relationship with my dad without involving him. Make space with yourself to be with these parts of you. You are the one that needs to see them and love them for them to heal.
At the same time, you don’t have to do it alone. We are all in this together. If you can find a friend, partner, or therapist that can truly hold space for these hurt parts to express themselves and use up their energy, then that is a God-send. In fact, you can also invite God, or your Divine Concept of choice, to come and witness these parts of you and help them express themselves and be okay. These parts are desperate to be seen and heard. Inviting in a witness as powerful as God often accelerates this process for me. Which means I cry harder, I see more of me, which means I heal faster.
When you do this consistently, you will definitely notice that your thinking and your life starts to change. Certain situations that upset you no longer upset you even though you did not change the situation. You will find some situations change by themselves. Certain people that bothered you don’t bother you anymore, without you having said anything to them. Suddenly, in certain areas, your thinking is more positive! Over time more happiness is there within you for no reason. Sometimes a change happens so quickly it seems like a miracle. How can this be? Because you changed the underneath calculation, so the output naturally changed.
Your natural state is abundant and perfect and already has everything it needs to manifest what makes you feel good. This natural state is just hard to see because it has unhappy parts standing in front of it, like clouds in front of the sun. You don’t need to force positivity. You don't need to force the sun. The sun is shining anyway. Just go meet these clouds. These are hurt parts of you. They have their attention on things that feel bad. It’s not their fault. They are trying to protect you. They are hurting. They actually want to heal. They are dying for you to see them and love them. So bring your love to them. Use your conscious attention for that, and you will see that these hurt parts will start to heal. They shift, they change, just with your acceptance, love and willingness to feel them. Just like clouds, they will rain and dissolve by themselves.
Then you will see your output change. Some parts slowly, some parts quickly, but you will have no doubt you are shifting yourself into something new.
This is not particularly comfortable work because we will feel, see, and hear our pain more truly and deeply than we have before. But this is the work of emotional healing. The benefits make it worth it.
The unconditional love that you give these parts is how you most deeply help yourself, and how you can best learn to help others. This work has changed my life, that’s why I believe in it so much, and that’s why it’s at the center of my coaching work.
If you want more on this topic, I have an article describing emotional processing. You can also check out some books that share similar healing techniques like Teal Swan’s Completion Process, Brandon Bay’s The Journey, Dr. Darren Weissman’s The Heart of the Matter, or Michael Brown's The Presence Process.