In my 20s I spent a lot of time learning ‘positive thinking’ (for lack of a better term). I was involved in groups who loved throwing out simple statements like “your thoughts create your reality” and “whatever you resist persists”.
Such simple statements contained logical fallacies large enough to drive an affirmation through. I was not unaware of those fallacies—the logical side of me bristled— but I set my opposition aside while I did my own empirical testing.
And it’s a good thing I did, because those ideas shifted my thinking and awareness in revolutionary ways. They had me realize my own role in so many circumstances in my life, enabling me to take charge of situations I previously thought of as beyond my influence.
I adopted and internalized many ‘positive thinking’ concepts/strategies. My life improved considerably and I still enjoy the benefits of that thinking.
But that is not the end of the story. More recently it has occurred to me that everything is a double-edged sword. Like the yin yang, everything contains its opposite, truths contain falsehoods and vice versa. The more I look, the more I see this is the case. As I revisited the ideas of positive thinking that benefited me so, I recalled those logical fallacies I had set aside.
I see now that those simple statements that helped me so are both simultaneously true and not true: there are plenty of things that I do not resist that persist, and I can think of things that I resist that do not persist. So “whatever you resist persists” is an oversimplification. My opinion of the existence of the Sun will not cause it to cease to exist, so it is reasonable to assume that there are aspects of reality that exceed my capacity to substantially influence them. To see something as either true or not true is the only see half of the matter.
An openness to possibility is a necessary first step expanding ones limits. Oversimplification can accelerate growth. Once the growth happens, then it’s beneficial to scrutinize the oversimplification, tease out nuance, understand that it is also false in order to grow beyond it.