Hope, Positive Thinking and Disappointment

In which we explore the tension between positive thinking and protecting yourself against disappointment. You guard against disappointment by not having high hopes. Be optimistic, positive… but detached. Otherwise, if you just ‘un-hope’ yourself so as to avoid disappointment, you’re already disappointed anyway.

Disappointment is one of the enemy. The flip side of hope. The not-meeting, as in broken or delayed appointment; a new appointment – a job or status – that somehow doesn’t happen. Or simply an event, person or thing you’d set your heart on, and after all that mental pushing, that determination to make it happen, it just doesn’t. De-appointed, dis-appointed. You risk it when you commit to positive thinking.

We’re universally told, and specifically the Law of Attraction tells us, that we can think our desires into being. (We deal with the tricky issues around desire elsewhere on this blog.) But when it doesn’t happen, does this make you more vulnerable than if you’d never set yourself that goal in the first place? Or is it better to have tried and failed than never tried at all? Pick yourself up, dust yourself off etc? What happens to hope? And has it undermined our faith in the idea that we can make what we want happen by the sheer power of thought? Clearly we need a mature reading of the Law of Attraction to cope with disappointment, otherwise the whole project falls apart.

The pick yourself up dust yourself off thing needs strength, and when you’re down because the change you were determined to have in your life hasn’t come through, strength is exactly the thing that’s hardest to find. Wallow in self pity for a while, it doesn’t take any effort at least. Be angry; find someone to blame. Then start to convince yourself that you didn’t want it anyway and you’re better off without it. Or him. Or her.

But all that mental churning is just that, and only that. It’s all in the mind, which in its normal everyday jitterbug state, we know is not the place to look for inner strength. Take a deep breath, calm your mind, and turn its attention inwards. Return to your inner self. Regroup. Whatever it was you hoped for was outside you. Were you thinking it would somehow make you into more You? More of a person, more fulfilled, more successful, happier, richer, sexier, more of a winner? Happier, certainly. It’s being cheated of happiness that’s the worst part, because you’ve gone and attached happiness to this external thing, event or person. Mistake.

So you return to the one thing you can rely on – your Self. As long as it’s your Self, and not yourself. The ordinary everyday self with a small ‘s’ is the one that is somehow diminished by disappointment. The Self with a capital ‘S’, the Soul, is above and beyond all that. An eternal and infinitesimally small but infinitely powerful pinpoint of conscient light is not likely to experience disappointment, right? It’s unlikely to attach itself to a person, event or thing because it isn’t physical in the first place, right? Become soul conscious, and when you’ve pulled yourself (not your Self) out of that self-destructive trough, consider this: what’s the difference between hope and positive thinking?



About Aidan

The Ecology of the Soul is the culmination of a lifetime of study and practice of hatha yoga and Raj Yoga. Aidan studied with BKS Iyengar, and was a dedicated member of the Brahma Kumaris, teachers of Raja Yoga, during his 20s. The basic understanding of the Soul and God is pure Raja Yoga, but it is the 'ecology' principle that drives the system's emphasis on balancing our spiritual powers. We return to our natural state of happiness, contentment, peace – and power.
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