So many negative things are being said about negativity and negative people. It is all part of the "Don't Worry, Be Happy" scheA Safe Way towards Open
So many negative things are being said about negativity and negative people. It is all part of the "Don't Worry, Be Happy" scheme, or what can be called the "Hakuna Matata" line of thinking. These views miss one essential point, that is positivity doesn't work for many people, and that the whole concept of "keep smiling whatever happens" doesn't suit everybody.
Negative people have their roots spread well inside truth, and they do worry because they have to; it is for their own protection. While a silly motivational speaker might convince some lazy people to find a purpose, his tricks will never work for someone who doesn't feel the need for such purpose. Negativity is a far deeper issue than laziness; it conceals the very purpose of living by shifting the mindset entirely towards protection. Survival, in a way, becomes the sole purpose, however distorted this might be.
That's what Dr. Tony Humphreys tries to explain rightfully in this book: positive thinking is all about openness, while negative thinking is all about protection. In other words, you might look outwards to live, or inwards to survive. For him, there's nothing called "negative thinking" or "positive thinking," hence the quotations in the book's title. He explains repeatedly throughout the book that these patterns of thinking lie in the deep emotions that are usually repressed within oneself and are the result of one's upbringings.
Nevertheless, the book advocates coming to peace with the past and accepting one's negative protectors as the only way to advance towards a more balanced view of life. There is no point in blaming the parents, for instance, for the failed upbringings, but they must be held responsible in a peaceful manner. The same goes for the negative thoughts, as there is no point in denying them; they should be harnessed for more openness through recognizing their roles as protectors as well as signpost for must needed change. Through the process of accepting one's past, safety can be achieved gradually and along with it self-actualization.
The book derives several methods by which the psyche expresses its need for protection that begins through the physical body and ends with the unconscious mind, passing through the conscious, the pre-conscious and the subconscious, all being different, interactive levels of abstractions of the same self. The part about the physical self and the relation between illness and psychology is not entirely scientific, but seems plausible, at least in the general context of the matter. It is in the pre-conscious level, however, where the protective and open thoughts lie, deeply affected by the subconscious desire of belonging and well being, as well as the power of any other repressed emotion. A holistic approach towards tackling the issues of all these levels is needed to enhance the interactivity among them and consequently the opportunities for change.
Dr. Tony's ultimate message is to love oneself. He provides a somewhat vague road map towards that goal and his outlined solutions are far from concrete. He admits, though, that it's not easy to provide a general solution for such a complex issue as the psyche's abhorrence of openness or desire for over protection. He repeatedly affirms the uniqueness of every human being, and consequently the uniqueness of each trip towards self-actualization. The main guideline is to understand the past, harness its protectors through understanding them and the creation of a safe environment to loosen their grip while maintaining the much needed balance between openness and protection.
Therefore, the glass becomes both half empty and half full. One's perception depends on his need for protection from the outside world. Pessimism will lead to protection but will deny you many opportunities. Optimism may get you the opportunities but without protection, they might not be of much use. A healthy balance is needed, which can be summarized in a single word: anticipation. In this quality, one can both approach opportunities without letting go his shield, which is another example why protection should precede openness.
A little bit too idealistic, repetitive, and lacking clear emphasis on situations when pessimism is desirable, The Power of 'Negative' Thinking sounds like a usual self-help book, but unlike the other books of the same genre, it doesn't pretentiously provide any easy answers. It will dig cracks in one's character to expose to oneself the deficiencies of one's soul, and that's it. It will leave you with more questions about yourself, and will help you track your actions from your thoughts down into your inner emotions. Thus, it is more of a self-analysis exercise than a feel-good, self-help read. It feels almost like going for the first time to a clever shrink, because it is written by one. It is up to you, then, whether to continue your own therapeutic journey or not....more