I had a weird experience this week. I was driving to northern PA for an overnight camping/hiking excursion and listening to a newly discovered podcast. These two ladies are talking about prayer, love, healing, free will, and lots of other things. It all seemed reasonable enough but after about 10 minutes I was feeling kind of irritated by the program and wasn’t sure why. Neither participant was particularly clear in their communication. There were lots of half-thoughts and general statements being thrown out there (which drives me completely bonkers). Overall I was tracking with what they were trying to say so I decided to stick it out a little longer. But after another 15 minutes I couldn’t take it any more. I realized that I was completely confused and frustrated by the conversation and shut it off.
I sat in the quiet of my car pondering my own exasperation (I enjoy figuring out why things trigger me). I realized that I understood the conversation itself (although I didn’t agree with much of it). The words made sense (for the most part). What was confusing the heck out of me was the guest and her part of the conversation. She was giving a lot of new-age love talk while all the time her voice and mannerisms exuded not an ounce of happiness or joy. Interesting. I thought back to what she had been saying. Here are a few tidbits that stood out:
She likes to walk around shopping places just “sending the vibration of love” to everyone for fun.
She only sends out love so that is all she sees and receives back from the world.
Others may hear a comment from a store clerk and say “that’s the rudest thing I’ve ever heard” but SHE didn’t read it that way. It sounded perfectly normal to her.
People get back what they put out and she only puts out love as well as some peace and other high-vibration energy. Nothing negative. Ever. So she never gets anything negative back.
Riigggghhhtttt. For someone reveling in the power of love she didn’t sound like she was enjoying it all that much. It made me wonder what she was doing with all that negative stuff she was refusing to see or hear. I have a suspicion that it was bothering her in some way she wouldn’t admit. Which is probably why her energy and her words didn’t match. Now obviously I don’t know anything about this woman other than the 30-ish minutes of the podcast I listened to. Maybe her dog just died that morning. I don’t know. I’m not criticizing her in particular. What I do want to do is use this as an illustration.
If you haven’t read my post on The Problem of Positive Emotions, you can do that now. I could basically copy and paste that whole post here because this story so perfectly illustrates what I was saying. When you read the post, you’ll quickly see that I have real problems with the “positive vibes” community that will only see the good stuff and deny the reality of everything else. Otherwise known as “lightwashing,” this worldview ignores real injustice in the world, denies people the wholeness of all their emotions, and creates a self-righteous space in which “spiritual bypassing” (ignoring all the hard parts of being human) is held up as the gold standard. It’s the perfect recipe for some serious self-denial.
Pardon me while I bang my head against the wall for a bit.
Let’s just say that I prefer a well-rounded honesty. I don’t see any conflict in saying that we need more love in the world while at the same time admitting that people can be rude. I don’t think it is unrealistic to acknowledge that we attract more love to us by putting love out into the world, but that is no guarantee that we won’t ever be on the receiving end of negative thoughts or actions. Nor is it wrong to be angry or sad when you do receive those negative thoughts or actions. Simply refusing to admit that there is nothing negative in the world isn’t helpful. You know how I know that? Because I’ve met lots of people like the woman on that podcast who talk a great line about love and positive vibes but their emotional energy tells a very different story.
Have you ever met one of those super-happy people and been totally turned off by them? What they say just doesn’t match their eyes, or body language, or even the energy they send out. They say one thing, but it is clear that a whole lot of other things are going on below the surface. It can be really confusing.
I’ve also met some happy vibers who are actually happy through and through. I envy them and like to be around them. We need authentically happy people in the world. But the other ones? The ones who are obviously holding on to anger, hurt, or grief that they don’t want to face? The ones clearly not in tune with their own stuff? Being around them is jarring.
Why does this upset me enough to write a blog post on? Well, first because I want you to know that this type of “fake positivity” is a real thing and shows up all over. Don’t feel required to believe everything people say about themselves. Second, because I don’t want you to fall into the same trap. If you are trying to “just feel the love” and ignore the problems of your past and present, you are simply setting up a really bad situation for yourself. Because what you are essentially doing is lying to yourself. You’re creating a fake aspect of yourself that lives only in your brain. Your body hates that because it gets stuck holding on to the real emotions like hurt, sadness, pain, or anger and it can’t let them go because your “happy brain” won’t acknowledge them. These emotions get stuck in your body and create energy blocks. Over time these energy blocks build up and turn into health issues, physical ailments, mental imbalances, burnout, and more.
Ignoring your emotions causes lots of problems down the road, which is why I talk about it so much. Ignoring reality doesn't help you or anyone else. It just sets you up to do things like blast confusing messages on a podcast because your inner and outer worlds don’t match up. Like getting stuck in a life you no longer want. Like feeling exhausted all the time and wondering why focusing on good emotions doesn’t seem to help. Like burning out of a career that you used to love. Like telling everyone about how “blessed” you are while at the same time wondering why you feel so disconnected from yourself.
What would I suggest you do instead?
Well, for starters, be honest with yourself. If you don’t feel happy at this moment, don’t pretend that you do. I wouldn’t recommend going around actively spreading hate and anger around, but you can acknowledge and feel your real emotions in safe places. If you have a lot of backed up emotional baggage in your system, you may need to go back decades and expunge it all before you can feel better. I’ve heard a lot of stories lately from people who have gone through this process. Who realized that the worldviews they grew up in were fundamentally screwed up. Who realized that they were never comfortable in their culture because the culture didn’t accept who they were. Who realized they weren’t happy because they were taught to want things they didn’t actually want. Who were taught to believe things they didn’t actually believe.
These people were finally getting real with themselves, feeling their own emotions, and choosing to stop lying to themselves (or letting their culture lie to them). Martha Beck calls this coming back into alignment with your true self the “way of integrity.” Katie Byron calls learning to break apart the lies you tell yourself “The Work.” Donald Altman calls it “emotional decluttering.” For all of them the practice essentially means “stop pretending stuff isn’t messed up and deal with it.” There’s plenty of ways to do it and it’s not necessarily easy, but it is the only way to be authentically yourself. It’s the only way to really heal and get to the bottom of your “issues.” It’s the only way to get to the life you actually want.
Ignoring stuff only works occasionally and almost always kicks the problems down the road. Do you really want to do that?
If you want to start getting real, check out the authors I mentioned above or read some of my other posts. I think this one about why emotions aren’t necessarily good or bad is helpful to as a foundation. Or contact me and we can talk more about how energy work can help you move toward greater integrity. I love energy work because it helps clear out years of that old junk pretty quickly so you can actually see the lies you’ve been living in your whole life.
So don’t be that person who talks about love or faith in a way that makes someone else wonder if your beloved pet died. I infinitely prefer hanging around with people who are authentically themselves even if that means they aren’t 100% positive every moment. I don’t look down at people who have bad days or get upset because someone is rude to them in the store. That’s real. That’s human. You get to choose what to do with those negative things once you’ve experienced them. You can choose how to respond and grow and learn from them. But you can’t do any of that if you pretend they haven’t happened. So start doing the work today to become more authentically yourself.