When Being Positive Doesn’t Work

~by Shannon Modrell

Those of us in the various positive thinking movements spend a lot of time looking for a way to find the upbeat side of everything. Armed with our affirmations we strive to stay optimistic through good and challenging times because we know that our thoughts determine our experience of the world.

But 21 years of trial and error with this stuff has taught me that, like anything else, there is a time and place for this approach, and that trying to use positive thinking as a panacea cure-all gets us out of balance in a hurry.

Don’t get me wrong, learning to turn negative thoughts into positive ones IS a very effective tool. If our negative emotions are the result of habituated negative thinking, then yes, replacing the negative thought with something more positive is a powerful way to interrupt that pattern. I believe this so much that I have built a career around writing songs that help people do that very thing.

However there are also times when negative outlooks and unhappy moments spring up from something much deeper than just negative thoughts, and trying to use affirmations to fix it is like slapping a band-aid on a festering wound.

Sometimes when we are feeling stuck or blue, it’s because we have some need that isn’t being met or some unresolved pain to grieve.

If we don’t take the time to find out what need is within us, or allow the pain to have a voice, we will continue to be miserable, no matter how many affirmations we slather on it.

(Actually, the need to grieve unresolved pain is – well, a need – so we’re really back to the first idea: some need within us is asking to be met)

Sometimes we need to stop focusing momentarily – on the positive and spend a little time with our shadow and be willing to temporarily feel some pain. This is how we give it an opportunity to move out (emote, e-motion) and be healed, which eventually brings us back to homeostasis: balance, peace and harmony. (I write songs that facilitate that process, too.)

Once we know what the need is, we can begin to take steps to fill it, THEN we can begin using all of our other tools of affirmation, visualization, focusing on gratitude, etc. to improve our direction.

And it’s important to remember that this is a process. I sometimes have to remind myself of this, too. It’s natural to want to avoid pain, but if we can allow ourselves to get quiet and listen to the needs our spirit is whispering to us, pain resolves itself more quickly and we are better able to use all of those wonderful tools that make for a blissful outlook on life.

 Peace and Blessings,


  Want to use this article in your Ezine or Website?
Please do – just be sure to include the following blurb in it’s entirety:

Singer, Songwriter, Motivational Speaker Shannon Modrell changes lives and mindsets by performing transformational healing music at international conferences, holistic events, and at Unity and United Spiritual Centers all over the USA.
If you want to be inspired, encouraged and empowered to live the creative fire within you, you can sign up for a FREE
subscription to her Ezine Gifted U by emailing:
Visit Shannon’s Website at
Want to read more articles like this one?  Visit Shannon’s blog at: shannonmodrell.wordpress.com


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