Once upon a time…
A recent CBS news story—Is Positive Thinking the Key to Recovery?—came out about the usefulness of positive thinking and positive attitudes in recovery from illness, most specifically cancer. In this report a psychologist insisted that it was dangerous to believe that our thoughts have anything to do with our cure—and he had evidence to back up his findings. He said that for every one person who beat their disease, attributing it to a positive outlook, there were dozens who had the same positive beliefs and died from their illness. He also said that believing in thinking positively and not healing can lead patients to feel guilty that they didn’t know how to be positiveenough—creating a feeling of failure.
The segment also featured numerous cancer survivors who disagreed with this psychologist and had data to back up their experiences.
I believe that motivation affects perception. As the old Hindu saying goes: “When a pickpocket sees a saint he sees only his pockets.” In quantum physics, the observer is part of the experiment—in that expectations affect outcome. I believe that the psychologist saw exactly what he wanted to see and so did the people who felt diametrically opposed to his point of view. Regardless of all of this, my feeling is that it doesn’t matter what a doctor or scientist believes, it’s what you believe. If it feels good to be positive, then be positive. If you want to be angry at cancer, then be angry. Anger is a powerful force, use it for your health. Are you conscious of your rage and using it to fuel your healing or is your anger running the show from a subconscious place, lashing out indiscriminately at innocent bystanders? Ultimately it boils down to what feels right and good to you.
If it feels authentic to keep a positive outlook, if that uplifts you, then by all means be positive. Is being pragmatic your thing? The truth is, we’re going to die someday and we all get to decide what kind of life we experience while we wait. Will it be full of hate and mistrust or love and compassion? No matter how much time we have left, whether it’s a month or fifty years, we get to choose how we want to experience our life.
It’s not so much about what the statistics say; rather, it’s about what feels accurate and right for you.
I had an experience many years ago that set the stage for my beliefs. Once, way back in my late 20’s, I went to a bar on Bleeker St. in New York City to hear a friend’s band play. My friend told me that if I didn’t sit, but stood, I wouldn’t have to pay a cover charge to listen. To make a long story short, the owner didn’t agree and threw me out. It was ugly. I was ugly! As we were engaged in our nasty little dispute, I became aware of this feeling over my head—like a storm cloud, an energetic darkness. I felt slimed with negativity. For the next month I felt this storm cloud over my head—like Eeyore, the downtrodden stuffed donkey from the Winnie-the-Pooh stories—and crazy things happened: my purse was stolen, I received scary, nasty phone calls in the middle of the night from heaven knows who, I was verbally assaulted by a creep in the subway and on and on and on. It felt tangibly clear to me that I’d brought this on myself by engaging so unconsciously in negativity with the bar owner. Once I became clear on how I’d created the energetic mess I was experiencing, it dissipated. For me, I learned that in order to feel good in life, I need to be conscious—choose my words with care, be skilled in communication and not engage in creating negativity.
I choose feeling positive, regardless of my circumstances. What uplifts me is connection to community and spirit and feeling buoyed by positive feelings. Mind you, it’s not always easy, but ultimately it feels better.
I’d love to know what feels right, authentic and useful to you, especially if you’re in a healing state.