The Shadow Side Of Gratitude – How Positive Thinking And Mindset Training Get Misused
I’m all for gratitude. I love “everything happens for a reason” and finding the lesson in a difficult situation. I believe there is wisdom in looking at ourselves and our stories. It is noble to take radical responsibility. But what about our hearts? What about the legitimacy of the feelings that arise when you’re in the middle of the “shit storm”?
As a spiritual aspirant – I’m guilty. I’m guilty of getting caught up in the positive thinking and mindset madness that has us monitoring every negative thought, feeling, and emotion. But high-level concepts like “happiness is a choice” and “your thoughts create your reality” can be confusing and even shaming if misunderstood. And quite frankly, I witness a lot of misunderstanding.
I was a chronic positive-think-my-way-into-a-different-perspective kind of girl. I had experienced a fair amout of trauma: my parents went through a divorce, a close family member was murdered, my step-mom committed suicide, I got diagnosed with a rare brain tumor, then I nearly died, barely holding on to life for 10 days in the hospital, and to top it all off in my early thirties I got into an abusive relationship just for fun. Yet, I remained positive.
I had been shifting and observing my thoughts for years through personal development and mindfulness. I could silver line a nuclear Holocaust. But there was a cost: I was severely disconnected from my heart, my truth, and I didn’t trust myself. And isn’t that kind of the point of spiritual practice? Of working on ourselves? To be deeply rooted in who we are, to trust and love our whole self, so we can then have abundant spiritual AND human experiences?
If you are here you probably don’t need to disassociate from your feelings anymore. Most of us get onto this path because we are energetically sensitive, empathetic, emotional people who have never learned how to feel what we are feeling (different from emotional triggers) without making ourselves wrong.
When we focus on our stories and limiting beliefs without acknowledging the core messages that lie underneath the emotions and thoughts, it is just another way the ego disassociates – kind of like an addict going for alcohol to avoid the discomfort of living.
As a result of never allowing our deepest feelings and beliefs to come to the surface, we separate ourselves further from our hearts, from our intuition, and from feeling connected from within. We actually exacerbate the very situation we are trying to fix: our relationship with our Truth and ourselves.
If we aren’t a sacred place to be fully human, messiness and all — then who and what are we looking to for that wholeness, for our power?
When I realized this was just a way to give the ego more power (directing the mind at the expense of feeling my core feelings) and that I was actually acting out of fear, because I hated myself for being vulnerable, I knew it was time to develop a new relationship with my whole self.
Yes, it’s important to not get sucked into some of the craziness from our minds. Yes, it is important to be aware of our reactions. Yes, it is important to take personal responsibility. Yes, it is important to not project all of our wounds and soft spots onto someone else, blaming them for what we are feeling in the moment, but . . .
Being “spiritual” and loving is not about muscling ourselves into being super human.
The beauty of being a soul having a human experience is in finding the courage to open our hearts to our tender, wounded, broken, and messy without shame, with total acceptance, with some reverence, and with humility so we can heal the original source wound of separation from love; so we can cultivate a deep level of intimacy, trust, and truth with ourselves and with others.
The beauty of our emotions (and even our thoughts and egos) is that they are access points into deeper, unheard, wounds, and hurts. They are the bridge and the channel for unconditional love with ourselves, for honest communication with others, and for being fully present in the here and now.
Through honoring the language of our emotions, of our feelings, and of our experiences, we heal years of denied, repressed, stored, grief material that creates the filter we navigate our life from.
Connecting to our feelings is the difference between a “good” spiritual practice and an actual spiritual experience. When we learn how to feel, heal, integrate, and become whole, we get laughter through tears, joy in the middle of breakdowns, peace in the face of chaos, and trust in the face of the unknown.
Through experiencing all we were meant to experience here, we get glorious #Wholehuman™ living.
Light and Love Megyn
Truth teller, Spiritual myth buster, Inner Relationship coach
My commitment is to be as human with you as is humanly possible over the internet while I breakdown overly simplistic, reductive, self-help, and empowerment teachings. Get exclusive love notes and private updates, stock my Instagram, and come be a part of the most bad ass, non-new-agey, real-life, private Facebook group as I give weekly sermons on relationships, self-love, and self-awareness.