Positive thinking is one of those spiritual tools that has a time and a place. Typically that time and place is early on in someone’s spiritual journey. The further down this road someone comes, the more the concept of labeling some things as positive and the necessity to label others as negative becomes an absurdity. As such, this is one of those spiritual tools that I consider to be scaffolding. It can be really useful to have scaffolding when you are building a house. But you certainly don’t keep it around after the house is built.

From the outset in this spiritual blog post, I want you to understand that labeling something as positive immediately creates a shadow–it’s negative. This thing is good makes that other thing bad. It keeps us locked in duality and the thinking of the judgmental ego. It can become a terrible trap, and it’s one that some of my spiritual students have discovered as they go deeper in their journeys.


Positive thinking can have its usefulness, and for those struggling with depression, it can be the right crutch to work their way out and broaden their perspective on life. Because as your perspective on life grows, you see that things simply are as they are and that life is simply too vast to be defined by human ideas of what is positive and what is negative.

The Purpose of Temporary Spiritual Tools

A lot of spiritual tools are temporary. They are here to help you transition from unhealthy ways of living and acting towards ways of simplicity and presence. For instance, a lot of visualization methods are temporary. The more you reside in inner peace, the more things arise and pass in peace. You let go of the need for control, which can be inherent in a lot of visualization methods especially with energy work. The more clear you are, the more easily your own energy–your divine intelligence–addresses imbalances. This is a big point I make with my awakened students. They may be feeling all sorts of energies, but this is a good sign. Their system is attending to itself. It is best to not do too much with visualizations and energy work and let the most intelligent beings at work–your soul and God–do the heavy-lifting.

There are quite a few other temporary tools. Gemstones, starcharts, divining cards such as Tarot, and other things help people have faith in life and the expansiveness of it all. They can be ways to start to learn how to listen to our intuitions. They are typically ways to reassure ourselves about the future and ourselves in general. No one wants a starchart reading saying that they are going to die a terrible death by cancer. I could go on for awhile, but initially, these tools are very useful. Later on, you can choose to use them or not, but for those of us resting more deeply in peace, we generally don’t have much interest in them. That includes the tool of positive thinking.

A Light in the Dark

When someone has been in the darkness of cynicism, depression, self-hatred, and so on, a light to help see a little more of the joy of life can be exceedingly helpful. It may even be life saving for those who feel suicidal. In times like these, positive thinking is a very powerful spiritual tool. A person can start to expand their perspective beyond the narrow confines of the sick ego that only says painful things happen in life. In only seeing pain, the tendency is for someone to perpetuate pain and to interact with people based on that perception. As such, the fifteen kind words from co-workers are barely acknowledged by this person because they don’t believe it, and it would force the ego to admit that its story is wrong (which for some reason we don’t want to do). But the one word of criticism given to this type of person is latched onto and regurgitated in the mind. The darkness deepens, and the person spirals downwards.

When someone has this kind of mindset, practicing looking on the bright side and repeating positive affirmations can be really crucial. It can help build new thought patterns in the mind and get out of the cyclical self-hating thought-patterns.

And there is a lot of negative thinking that people have been taught. Many have been taught that negative thinking and cynicism are actually realistic or practical ways of viewing life. But that is hardly the case. It’s just a lot of tunnel vision that eliminates a lot of possibilities for joy. As I said, this can get really bad and lead people towards suicide when there is no need for such an extreme self-hating action.

Taking A Different Blind Eye to Reality

But just as the negative thinking patterns turn a blind eye to parts of reality, only thinking positively about life is opening one eye and closing another. In some instances, it can be closing both eyes. This happens in bad relationships and jobs where someone is convinced that if they just look on the bright side that things will get better. But that’s not that situation. It’s a toxic situation, and because of the individual’s particular fears (fear of change, fear of the unknown, or something else), they’re using this tool of positive thinking to avoid the difficult changes they know in their hearts that they need to make.

Yes, human beings can be quite sneaky. We can take a useful tool and turn it on its head until it is detrimental to us. In general, positive thinking isn’t the worst thing in the world so long as both eyes are kept open. If you can see that some people are helpful and some people are inflicting pain, then you are very likely seeing the world as it is. It’s part of the reason I don’t have an opinion on if the world is awakening or not. There are lots of things going on, and I don’t choose to create a seemingly positive story to attempt to account for all of the things happening around the globe.

The Ego’s Need to Judge and Evaluate

Not even hidden in positive thinking is the ego. There is no way to think positively without judging what is positive and what is negative. And you have to do this with EVERYTHING. Everything gets labeled as positive or negative in this mindset. It may not seem that way, but the ego will tend to discard experiences and moments that it doesn’t know how to judge. You may also steer away from situations that you don’t know what you feel about them. This happens a lot on the spiritual path, especially if someone has healed a big issue. They can feel strange and different, and they don’t quite know how to operate without that issue that had been defining how to act on certain things. But this phase passes, and we find deeper peace without creating a new issue or ego program to fill that spaciousness we’ve created.

In another way, the need for positive thinking illuminates our issues in reverse. If you need to repeat an affirmation that “you are love” twenty times a day, then you are retorting to another inner statement. That inner statement that you believe and are trying to mask may be “you are worthless,” “you don’t deserve love,” “you are evil,” or something else. Without this first message, you don’t need to remind yourself that you are love because you are not feeling bad. As such, you can see how positive thinking can often be used like a drug to treat symptoms and not root causes.

Looking Into the Mirror

Since the positive affirmations or ways you think offer a mirror to your issues, I encourage you to look into that mirror if you use affirmation. Go find the real issues that are upsetting you and making you try to control yourself and how you see life so that you feel good about yourself. Make no mistake about it, dealing with difficult issues and core issues isn’t much fun, but letting them go is amazing As you let them go, the need to tell yourself positive affirmations or skew how you see the world becomes less and less important. You are at peace with yourself. You are moving into love–that wonderful space of unconditional acceptance. You won’t need to create stories about yourself, others, and the world. It can all be as it is, and the more you abide in this space, the more utterly useless positive thinking will be to you.

Resting Deeper and Deeper Into Peace

Returning to the truth of oneness does help us to redefine positive and negative, good and bad, and so forth. Most things don’t need those labels, and when I use such terms as positive or negative what I am generally saying is that something is promoting kindness and well-being, or it is promoting suffering. War is bad because it typically promotes suffering. Buying a homeless woman some groceries is typically good because it promotes kindness and wellbeing. But in this space of inner peace, you don’t really need to make the mental distinction. You don’t need to think about if something is good or bad. You move from a deeper sense of connection, love, and harmony that doesn’t use those human mental terms. In this way, we are integrated with consciousness, which doesn’t require much if any mental work to live.

Appreciating Your Needs on Your Spiritual Journey

The thing about the spiritual path is that it’s about appreciating your needs. If you are still dealing with a lot of self-hatred, positive thinking can be really helpful to break out of that old set of thought patterns. I encourage you to do it. But I also encourage you to get to the root of the issue. The more you find out where this self-hatred comes from and why you still believe in, the more you can let that pain go. As that pain goes, you don’t need to think positively about yourself. You can simply see more of yourself–your limitations, talents, strengths, and weaknesses. All of you is embraced on this spiritual path, and that includes things that you might not have labelled as “negative.” It’s another reason we don’t hang onto this temporary spiritual tool. Too many things that we would have labelled as positive turn out to be traps  that perpetuate suffering while other things that we would have labelled negative turn out to be doorways to freedom. Life is too vast for small thoughts and judgments like this. It’s so much easier to simply allow life to be as it and to allow ourselves to be as we are. That’s neither positive nor negative. It simply is the truth.


I'm a spiritual teacher who helps people find freedom from suffering.

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