Last year in a fit of clarity I decided to finally read some positive-thinking material.
I cringed inwardly, having previously dismissed this material as over-hyped, delusional New Thought motivational rubbish (not too positive, was I?).
But I had a few experiences where it was obvious that my circumstances were reflecting my own inner state back at me, over and over again.
Relationships where the same patterns repeated endlessly no matter what I did; but the moment I changed my perspective, it was as if everything around me changed too.
(I discovered much the same dynamic in my approach to eating and diet: I thought I wanted to lose weight, but on closer examination I had complex motives and desires that were keeping me stuck.)
So I still cringe occasionally, but otherwise I’m enjoying the benefits of studying and applying the material produced by Esther Hicks, on positive thinking and the law of attraction.
Positive feeling for INFP/Melancholics
Although this material is accessible to everyone, it is perfect for INFP/Melancholics, because it focuses first and foremost on how you feel.
I’ve had half a lifetime of being told explicitly and implicitly that how I feel doesn’t matter at all. Feeling bad about objective reality is irrelevant at best and a moral failing at worst.
It seemed that introverted Feeling (Fi) and melancholic idealism were things that just wouldn’t (and couldn’t) fit into the objective world, and I’ve even argued here that we live in a world dominated by Sanguine, Choleric, and Phlegmatic values instead (that’s SP, NT, and SJ, in MBTI).
Feeling is judgement
It really sucks to feel bad all the time, and to believe on top of it that you must do your best to ignore these bad feelings, because…reality.
So how does positive thinking/law of attraction material make a difference?
For starters, it takes the judging function of introverted feeling seriously.
Your feelings are your “inner guidance system” that tells you whether or not the thoughts you are thinking right now are in alignment with your deeper desires and “inner being” (call it soul, true self, higher power, or whatever you like).
Feeling bad is therefore not a personal quirk or moral failing, it’s an indicator that you are thinking in ways that contradict your own genuine desires and your inner being.
And if you don’t heed the signals of how you feel, you will continue to experience circumstances that feel more or less exactly the same.
Turning life around
INFP/Melancholics are prone to depression and anxiety. Yet these are simply emotional indicators that we are, right now, focusing on thoughts that do not match our genuine desires, or our inner being.
Since our circumstances reflect what we are focused on, feeling bad means we are going to continue to feel bad.
It was no coincidence that having felt depressed and anxious for many years, I continued to feel depressed and anxious.
The more I tried to understand depression and anxiety, the more entrenched it became, because I continued to focus on it and look for reasons “out there”, in the world or in my own personality.
Eventually I concluded that depression and anxiety were an unavoidable outcome of someone with my temperament and personality living in “the real world”.
I became an expert at reinforcing my pessimistic view of the world, despite how bad it made me feel.
Nothing is more important than feeling good
My knowledge and experience in philosophy, religion, and all kinds of intellectual analysis were not very useful until I knew what I was looking for.
But now it’s obvious to me that we do in fact create our own reality, shape our own experience, by what we choose to focus on.
If you want to be happy, focus on things that feel genuinely good, or at least better than you currently feel, while trusting that your experience and perception will change as you begin to feel better.
This is a complete inversion of the “worldly” approach, which incidentally matches the inferior extroverted Thinking function (Te) of the INFP.
From a worldly/Te perspective, you can feel good when you accomplish your goals, and you should feel bad if you fail to achieve them.
But notice that as an INFP, this is my negative perception of “how the world works”. In other words, my negative view of the world is that it operates according to my inferior function, that people are only interested in accomplishments, achievements, and utility.
Question your negative beliefs
Does the world really revolve around utility and accomplishments?
Does every single person on earth value achievement and efficiency above all else?
Is the whole world ruled by ruthless market forces?
But in thinking this way, I sought out experiences that confirmed my thoughts, and I ignored or downplayed evidence to the contrary.
Playing the game of “Yes, but…”
Have you ever noticed what happens when you try to cheer up an unhappy person, or when someone happy tries to cheer you up?
You both play the “Yes, but…” game; only you play it in different ways.
The positive person says “Yes, your situation has some difficulties, but there are positives to it as well…”
I acknowledge how you feel, but there are ways for you to feel better.
The negative person says “Yes, there are some things in life that seem okay, but there are negatives to it that you mustn’t ignore!”
If you’re intent on playing the game negatively, nothing and nobody can stop you. There’s no limit to the negative aspects you can discover in life if you really try. You can find, or create, down-sides to everything!
And for the same reasons, you can find, or create, a positive side to everything too. Even the very worst experiences strengthen your desire for something better.
One step at a time
I have to give full credit to Esther Hicks’ material for helping me change how I feel. It’s not just the basic principles, but also finer points like knowing that we can’t make a sustainable jump in feeling from “horrifically depressed” to “overwhelming joy”.
It can’t be done, and the desire to make these kind of leaps is in fact a form of self-sabotage.
But starting out with the intention to “feel better”, and taking small steps in feeling “less bad” is the way to slow down the negative habits of thought we’ve been practicing for decades, and make lasting improvements in our thoughts, our mood, and our whole experience of life.