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By Steve Wells

Numerous new age and pop psychology authors and so-called experts insist that you should always frame your goals and affirmations in the positive because your unconscious mind “only thinks in positives”. So instead of thinking that you want to “lose weight” you are supposed to focus on being “fit and healthy at my desired weight”.

A similar pronouncement that is very popular right now since the publication of The Secret is that you are supposed to always feel good, because all negative emotions are vibrationally bad! So if you are feeling bad then you should immediately find something that makes you feel good to focus on…

This is going to shock many of you: Many very successful people regularly use what may appear to you to be negative statements and negative motivation with extremely positive results! And many many people can trace the day they turned their life around to the day they experienced a negative emotion.

How can this be? Because the key to the power of an affirmation is not in the statement itself, but in the energy it evokes and the actions it leads to. And all of our feelings have a place, and can ultimately lead us to wholeness if we allow them.

Let’s look at these one at a time…

Firstly, my studies of peak performers have revealed that it isn’t always necessary to frame things in the positive in order to get positive results. How silly really to think that our unconscious, or the universe, or God, or the universal intelligence, or whatever you understand it/s/he as doesn’t understand always what we really mean when we make a request.

Try this on for size:

Who is the richest man in the world at the moment? That’s right, Warren Buffet. (Ok if you read this in a few years time his position may have changed, but in 2008 the richest person in the world is Warren Buffet, and his level of success has endured for quite some time.).

Let’s look at Warren Buffet as a role-model for getting massive financial results… Well if you know anything about Buffet then surely you know his number 1 rule, don’t you? You don’t? Well here it is: Don’t lose money! That’s right, the richest man in the world has a negatively worded mantra by which he lives his life and does business. Don’t lose money. This isn’t just something he thinks occasionally, it is what he keeps in front of him all the time. But how can this be? Shouldn’t negatively worded mantras like this lead to negative results? Not so.

The positive thinkers of this world will have you believe that there is only one way to succeed, and it is by always thinking positively. However, anyone who does a true assessment of successful people in any field will find that they have a variety of temperaments, that the positivity of their thinking does not reliably predict success for other than a small group of them.

Let me be clear here, I am not totally debunking positive thinking or saying that it doesn’t have positive aspects for many people! What I am saying is that the power of your own negative thinking in preventing your success has been overestimated. The difference that makes a real difference in the world of results is action, not (just) the way you think!

Chin Ning Chu, bestselling author of Thick Face Black Heart, puts it this way:

“Success comes to some of the most negative people as well as the most positive ones. Success has more equal vision and less prejudice than the positive thinking theory promoted by some people.”

Chu refers to the example of the commercial airliner, pointing out that every day hundreds of commercial jets take off, each with hundreds of passengers aboard, and a certain percentage of these passengers are entertaining the possibility of an airplane crash, yet this doesn’t happen. As she points out, “If your power of negative thinking is as powerful as you have imagined, with the collective negative power among the passengers, we might never have a successful landing.”

The practical outcome of movies such as The Secret and the rash of books that have hit the bookstores since is that many thousands, perhaps millions of people are now worrying about their every negative thought. Relax.

As Mark Twain said late in his life, “I am an old man and have known many troubles, but most of them never happened.” That’s because most of the things we worry about DON’T happen. What does that tell you? We have invested a great deal of our energy worrying about thoughts that have no real power. The only power they can have is the power we give them. And even if we do have those thoughts the thoughts alone won’t necessarily have much effect on what happens in the world.

Ok, I know there are some exciting experiments being conducted on intention and basically “mind over matter”. I also know that there is a great difference between a worrying thought and a deliberate intention to manifest something. The latter potentially has power outside ourselves (non-local mind), the former typically has only inner (or more local) effects.

Chu encourages us to “free yourself from the trap that says, ‘change comes before success’.”

Now this is a biggie. In the world of Energy Techniques like EFT, SET, and so on, I see it arise continually as: “I have to tap away all my negativity before I can get into action.” Well lots of luck because if you go on a search and destroy mission for all your negative parts, you’ll find an endless array of distracting negative parts all preventing you from doing the one thing you know you really need to do in order to get results in the area of your greatest desire and that is to TAKE ACTION!

Now I am not saying that tapping won’t help. What I am saying is that someone who adopts the “Feel the fear and do it anyway” approach and gets into action will generally outperform someone who waits until they have fully treated every fear before ever taking a step.

Ultimately I believe that we should both release our blocking feelings and take action on our greatest desires. In the past I would’ve encouraged all my clients to treat the fear first, but I’ve since seen tapping used so much as an excuse for inaction that I now encourage people to go forward and tap as they go using SET.

Here’s another one:

The “positive thinkers” of this world are all faking it to various degrees. If you could see them “behind closed doors” you would see a person surprisingly like yourself, with human faults and failings, and even the presence of self-doubt. Read between the lines of their books, get “Up close and personal” with them and you will see their clay feet… This applies to all EFT experts and those at the highest level in the Energy Healing world. And yes it applies to us; although we have never pretended to be perfect it is still the case that people expect us to have no problems and are surprised to hear that we still have challenges in our lives…

From a recent workshop: “You guys must just be so centered and have no problems after using these techniques for so long.” Response: “Wrong! Are we freer and more centered than we were before learning these techniques? Immeasurably! Are we perfect and free of emotional upsets? No way! Does tapping work for us or our clients on everything? No! Do we always use it even when we know we should? Often, but not always…”

Ok, let’s look briefly at the issue of feeling good versus feeling bad.

Aren’t you always supposed to be feeling positive, isn’t the message of The Secret that only positive feelings will lead to positive results, and negative feelings are inherently BAD? Not necessarily. Used properly, our negative emotions can be powerful stimulants to positive change, among other things.

I love what multimillionaire and business philosopher Jim Rohn has to say on this. In an interview in Entrepreneur with Robert McGarvey, Jim relates how his experience of self-disgust led him to change his life. He tells a story I’ve heard him tell in his seminars of how years ago he became disgusted with himself for lying to a Girl Scout who came to his door selling cookies, saying that he’d already bought some. At the time he was too broke to afford even the pitiful $2 requested! Jim says although disgust is a negative emotion, it can be a powerful stimulus to change the day that you become disgusted with the way things are and resolve to change things. That incident was a turning point in his life because it led him to make a powerful resolution to change.

Now the most interesting part of the interview for me was the exchange that followed…

McGarvey: “Nowadays many of us have that kind of experience, and afterward we decide to "affirm" ourselves into prosperity by saying things like "I am living a wealthy, successful life." Does that work?

Rohn: Affirmations without disciplines are the beginning of delusion. I believe in affirmations if they are true. If you are broke, the best thing to affirm is "I am broke." Put that up on the refrigerator and see it every day until it becomes powerful enough to prompt you into a life change. Until you see the truth about your condition, positive thinking won't work. Listening to thousands of pre-conscious, subconscious, high-tech affirmations will not help. All you have to say is "I am not where I want to be in life, and something is wrong. What? Something is wrong with my philosophy." Once you understand that, your life can totally change.”

Over the years many many thousands of people have adopted Jim Rohn’s philosophies and put them to use successfully in their lives. If affirmations should always be worded positively, shouldn’t they have all experienced negative results? And if Jim Rohn had swallowed the philosophy that all negative emotions are the enemy and the best way forward is to immediately shift your focus to a positive emotion rather than allow yourself to experience the negative emotion, would he have made the positive changes he made that day? I think not.

So where does this leave us?

I believe the key is not so much the content of the affirmation or the intensity and charge of the feeling, but the MEANING you take from it and what you then do with this that makes the most difference in your life. I believe many of our problems in life are actually the result of RESISTING experiencing and learning from our negative emotions. Until we are willing to do so, many of our negative emotions may continue to haunt us, because what you resist tends to persist. This, of course, is where Energy Techniques and tapping come in, because tapping can help us to process the negative emotions associated with the situations we find ourselves in, and assist the emotion to move and flow through our system. When we do this successfully, we not only get the messages these feelings have to offer, we also gain access to the energy they contain, and ultimately we open up to a new level of freedom.

So what do you think? We would love to read your comments...


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23 Replies to “The Power of Negative Thinking and Negative Feeling”

Great words and wisdom Steve, thank you. I would go one step further and say there is no such thing as a negative emotion, is there?

Emotions just are – emotions. It is what we do with them that makes them positive or negative.

I turned my life around after having anxiety panic attacks – does that make the anxiety a positive or negative emotion? I have known people who on becoming depressed reflected on their lives and made them much better. Does this make depression a positive or negative emotion? I have known teenagers kill themselves in a car because they were confident they could handle it at high speeds. Does this make confidence a negative or positive emotion?

To be able to feel comfortable with a whole array of emotions is true human existence.

Rachel Green
More about such concepts on:

Anton pia

came across your site via searching reagarding negative person. I had a run in with my boss and was refused a job interview because he stated I was a negative person.

I have a interview Monday the 12/01/09 with him and your atticale will help me to explain that asking questions doesnt mean one is negative and in fact you have to have negative to attract postive thoughts.


Thanks for the article Steve, so much of the laws of attraction appeals to a psychological perfectionism which isn’t very empowering for me. I am reminded of my theological training of how all sermons border on heresy because they are just a video clip in an ongoing narrative. That seems fitting for so much of the self help movement as they often over emphasizes half truths.

I am curious about you familiarity with Candice Pert’s “Molecules of Emotion.” It does seem based on her science that managing our thoughts and feelings does matter at cellular level. Finding a balance to challening negative thoughts/feelings and allowing them to prople us into action is a critical piece of the journey.

But to live in fear of neurological contamination seems to create more perfectionism that constrains a life lived with “grace,” “playfulness,” and “humor” that you so wonderful display in your use of tapping technqiues.

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