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Why Positive Thinking Alone Can Never Help You to Heal –

How to Stop Repressing Vital Parts of Your Self and Move Forward with Your Life

Healing means a return to whole-ness. The whole of us. To our original state of being able to express all emotions, to take on many viewpoints, to delight in curiosity and discovery, to experience life in awe. Ever noticed that as you grew up and grew older your world has somewhat become "smaller" and you only allow yourself to act, think and feel in particular ways? Perhaps you feel like things are repeating themselves over in your life, that somehow you have arrived at a point where some rigidity or a sense of automated responses and behaviours are limiting the way you can feel, think and act. Perhaps you have a sense of having lost your joy for life. I see many people who come to me with seemingly uncontrollable behaviours; such as eating, drinking, compulsive rituals (OCD) or using (harmful) drugs in addition to showing some of that rigidity.

When it seems to you that your mind is controlling you instead of you acting deliberately, chances are that there are powerful inner needs and wants that have been disowned, and emotions, which have been either repressed or dissociated.

This often happens during early life events. Much of our childhood features us being taught how to be “good” and what behaviours or expressions of the self are “bad”, by caregivers, teachers and other role models who may or may not be equipped for this task. Over time we learn to behave accordingly and to become “good people”.

During our early lives we are totally dependent on our caregivers, therefore repressing those “bad” or “unwanted” aspects of the self helps us to fit in. In this way we not just survive but we also maintain an essential connection to the adults we depend on for all our basic needs.

You may ask: Why would I want to re-discover these rejected parts of the self now? I really just want more of the “good” and not the “bad”!

Whilst through repressing we can become 'acceptable' in some way to our caregivers and teachers, often and usually much later in life those repressed feelings or parts of the self can come back to haunt us.

Just like each coin has two sides, we cannot forever repress the flip-sides of our personalities - and without an awareness and acceptance of them we can not become well-rounded people.

Perhaps suppressed emotions re-surface in the form of addictions, uncontrollable feelings of anger or rage, toxic shame or uncontrollable behaviours, fears, nightmares or phobias. Sometimes, we encounter the same kinds of challenges or challenging people in our lives, over and over. For some of us, not being our whole selves just makes us feel numb, somewhat “not there” or spaced out, dulled down or constantly exhausted or off center… it’s like continually keeping a bunch ping pong balls under water, so they won’t bubble up the surface – it takes a lot of energy to keep repressing. “Positive thinking is simply the philosophy of hypocrisy – to give it the right name. When you are feeling like crying, it teaches you to sing. You can manage if you try, but those repressed tears will come out at some point, in some situation. There is a limitation to repression. And the song that you were singing was absolutely meaningless; you were not feeling it, it was not born out of your heart.” – Osho This is precisely, why “positive thinking” does not work. It tells you to “be happy” all the time, even when you feel desolate, alone, enraged or broken. It tells you to smile when you want to scream or cry. It tells you to keep repressing, when those lonely, despairing or raging aspects of the self just want to be heard, understood and be held lovingly. No other person can uncover these suppressed aspects of yourself than yourself. It is a journey of self-discovery and self-compassion which is unique for each of us and a source of rich leanings, increased energy, new perspectives, inner harmony and self-empowerment.

What can we expect when we work with repressed feelings and aspects of self in therapy? In Hypnotherapy the process of identifying, re-surfacing and re-integrating suppressed parts of the psyche can happen in a relatively straight forward way, depending on your levels of self-awareness and openness, as well as preparedness of working with yourself honestly.

An experienced therapist acts like a tour guide who knows the territory. He or she can help you to interpret your individual map of reality and give you some useful tips to avoid being stuck in confusing or painful spaces for too long. Whilst working with a therapist takes commitment, patience and honesty, it is a way of healing with the support of someone who has tools and techniques that would take much longer to discover by trial and error alone.

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