“Think positive thoughts.

Think positive thoughts.

Think positive thoughts.”

“Maintain a positive mental attitude.”

“Raise your vibration/frequency!”

Don’t worry. Be happy!

Whether it’s a secular or spiritual environment, countless approaches to managing your thinking is based on “Don’t think those bad thoughts! Think only good thoughts!” 
But it’s a prescription for mental disaster.
This observation was made nearly 40 years ago by psychologist John Welwood, who died in 2019. The practice of “thinking only good thoughts” to avoid facing unresolved emotional issues and psychological wounds he coined as “spiritual bypassing”:
“We all have parts of ourselves we’d rather not look at so we deny or push them aside. When we bury these aspects in the subconscious rather than resolve and integrate them they often take on dysfunctional roles and behaviors that prevent healing and cause harm to ourselves and relationships. Offering up only positive thinking or “love and light” is an approach that circumvents the roots of the issues at hand and causes further harm.”
– John Welwood

Seeking transcendence to escape problems

Back in the day, when I struggled with anxiety, depression, anger, and crippling self-doubt, it made perfect sense to me to push down those emotions by thinking good thoughts. In fact, over the decades of my life, I spent countless hours in retreats, seminars and spiritual practice learning to ignore the emotions that were pressing to be seen.
The truth was that I’d emerge from those events feeling better – but it’d be only a matter of time (as much as a few days to a few minutes) that the unruly emotions would come roaring back.
So when I was introduced to Emotional Liberation in 2014 and was guided to actually focus on my difficult emotions, it was jaw-dropping! Instead of meditation practices that had me pushing thoughts out of my consciousness or visualizing “pleasant” things like walking in nature or on a beach, I was invited to be present with the emotions that were tormenting me.
It was easy to do that because that’s where my chattering mind always wanted to go. Easy in that respect but tormenting in allowing the dread of anxiety, the darkness of depression, the despair of self-doubt to surface. But I learned how to use a variety of tools from Eastern teachings and practices to Western neuroscience (including cannabis and psilocybin plant medicines) to receive, process and release them.
Placing your difficult emotions front and center is vital to emotional recovery in our work. Intrigued? I’m getting ready to release a new course very soon. Register your interest here.

In doing this, I experienced such exponential healing that once I was calm, centered and permanently clear from the dark emotions the only thing I wanted to do was to teach others how to emotionally heal, which as you may know, is what I do:)

It’s a life-changing equation

When I lead people through our Emotional Liberation program, it includes inviting up whatever thoughts are most pressing. It can be challenging at first – mostly because we never learned to feel into our emotions so staying with it at first can be (and I’m not going to sugar-coat it) agonizing. But over a series of weeks, the work conditions the nervous system in order to feel what you’re feeling and cultivating the awareness to know why you’re feeling it. It’s a life-changing equation.
What I love about this work is that it is not hit-or-miss. When you focus on your difficult emotions, there’s no confounding spiritual ideas or practices to sidestep or avoid facing unresolved emotional issues and psychological wounds. You’re driving your buried needs to the surface so you are no longer unconsciously acting out in covert and possibly harmful ways that undermine your relationships and erode your self-confidence and wellbeing.
The practices we employ are vigorous and expressive serving to bring unruly emotions to the surface.

With Love,

Becca

P.S. What has been your experience with this concept of “spiritual bypassing” or thinking only good thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts – I invite you to drop down to the comments section and let me know. Thank you!