Saturday, May 26, 2012

Voodoo, Energy, Positive Thinking--Magic or Fact

I'm sure someone has told you somewhere along the line to "always look on the bright side of life..."

When Monty Python tells me to keep my head up I smile and laugh, when the average person tells me I want to smack them.  Maybe not really smack them, but I certainly develop one of those dark ink-scratch clouds over my head like Charles Schulz drew over Linus's head when Lucy tried to steal his blanket.

But I am pondering whether our states of mind can actually affect our quality of life.  And I also question if a practice like voodoo is merely a self-induced hypnosis where we can harm ourselves by over-thinking something to the point of creating a self-fulfilling prophesy.

There are endless books on positive thinking where we are told how to remove anything bad from our minds and to only focus on the good, happy, and helpful.  The queen of affirmations is probably Louise Hay who has helped endless people with her books, workshops, and recordings.

Are affirmations just a form of reverse-voodoo? 

Do we actually have the ability to make things happen with out thoughts?  Some people think we do.  Dr. Keith Scott-Mumbly believes we can help ourselves or harm ourselves by how we think.  He even believes we sometimes accidentally sabotage ourselves with unconscious thought patterns.  Supposedly we develop patterns when we are very young as defense mechanisms and methods of survival.  As we grow and leave the situations that caused us to develop these necessary patterns, we continue to use them though we no longer need them.  Now instead of helping us these patterns hinder us.  Read how we can help ourselves with reprogramming according to Dr. Mumbly:

My personal opinion on the topic stems from a famous quote by Eleanor Roosevelt.  The quote says "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."  Everyone loves this quote.  It is supposed to be empowering--I feel it is dangerous.  I believe it could hurt someone who is truly depressed and needs help they cannot muster from within.  It could make someone feel worse who is stuck in a terrible situation and cannot figure a way out.

While I do believe we should always do our best and assume everything will be OK, I also think we should seek help when needed and NOT feel bad if we can't pull it off ourselves.

Now back to the magic.

If we eat purely healthy food, supposedly our bodies improve.  New skin in 30 days, our liver can regenerate in 6 weeks, and our skeleton is replaced in 3 years by new cells.  So why can't we do the same with our minds.  Could we actually think ourselves into a better situation?  If our thoughts are as pure as organic food can we do magic?

Mystics believe that we can.  A tulpa is "the concept of a being or object which is created through sheer discipline alone. It is a materialized thought that has taken physical form and is usually regarded as synonymous to a thoughtform." 

I have never had the ability to completely change a thought pattern if my emotions are pushing me in the other direction.  I love the idea of true magic, but I am not convinced in one direction or another.  If anyone has a magical story to share--I would LOVE to hear it :)

Please read about tulpas on Day 46 of 100 Unfortunate Days:

Day 46

Anything can be a tulpa. If you think of something long enough, you will make it real. You can make almost anything come true. Stacks of books are written about all the methods of imagery, manifestation and self-fulfilling prophecies—but in reality, all you have to do is think. Nothing tricky or fancy—just think. You’ll do this and you won’t even know it. You will worry about your kid…she’ll be sad at school, she’ll do badly with her new friends. Just keep it up—it will surely happen. Whatever you think about for your kids, whatever you worry about—that is what they will become. Pity them and they will become the kid that should be pitied. You gave them a tulpa. They are their own tulpa because of you. People take things away from us all the time. They call names, they give us wrong directions and they hurt our feelings. We take it from there. No one can ever talk to us as much as we talk to ourselves. “I’m such a witch, I’m such a witch…” One day your husband made you mad and you add something to his food that may upset his stomach just a little bit. “I’m such a witch…” The mole on your face has a hair you never noticed before. “…such a witch…” You no longer feel a communion with God. Somewhere along the line you become the witch. A tulpa is a thought come to life. Mystics in India believe if you can imagine something to the point of knowing it down to its finest detail—eventually you will have a hard time knowing if it is your imagination or not. Then this spirit/idea takes on shape and energy and it becomes real. So real that you can no longer get rid of it. So real that it can become a part of you and have the ability to change your life.


  1. Hi Penelope! This one hits close to home as I've lived that change, but I think describing the changes that effective therapy (in this case cognitive behavioral therapy or cbt) as just "thinking positively" is both vastly simplifying and's kind of hard to explain without undergoing it. I had a pretty rough childhood and formed a lot of bad habits to protect me from harm during those years. Of course, from a neurochemical perspective, like food, we are what we think: those habits were neural pathways formed by the trauma that I experienced but as I continued to think and act that way, they were reinforced as paths of least resistance.

    Good therapy is really about changing our patterns of thinking to create new pathways. The old ones still exist and always will, but when you can recognize those old ones, you can reframe that way of thinking. It's really effective and scientific and neurochemical studies have proven it, so those mystics were on to something. At the same time, it sure as hell wasn't about JUST thinking positively. In fact, that was one of my own particular problems: I had to learn to face that life sometimes does suck and that's okay, you can acknowledge that and be angry about it. After years of being told to just smile and listening and trying my damnedest even to my own detriment, it was empowering to realize that. Yet in acknowledging that, my overall outlook has improved and I'm happier. I find the whole thing very fascinating, obviously.

    1. Thanks for the awesome insights Jonathan.
      I too think affirmations are a super-simplification of something terribly important.
      It is tough to explain or prove anything in a non-tangible field. The stats that are normally viewed and potentially skewed to begin with are even more nebulous.
      I loved your comments also because of the happy ending--even though you had a rough go.

  2. I am glad Jonathan spoke up first, because I felt I might come across sounding a little too metaphysically fuzzy. His explanation gives a good and realistic way of describing what I, like him, have experienced and gives a less "woo-woo" vibe to what I'm going to say.

    Bad stuff happens to everyone. Some really bad stuff happens to a few of us. Some self-shattering stuff happened to me. I literally was left with no sense of who I was. I kept doing things that seemed like me (going to work, showering, even making love) - but I simply wasn't there. Sure I would laugh and talk and eat chocolate cookies, but people who didn't know me before the shattering sensed my incomplete-ness and kept their distance. Worse than those who kept their distance, were those who knew me before; they kept trying to make sure I fit back into the shape of who I used to be. I had three choices: continue to be an empty vessel; attempt to return to who I had been; or decide to build a new version of who I was. It took five years (and, yes, therapy) to complete my project. A lot of it was done by paying attention to how I was thinking, and then choosing to think differently. As I explained to my husband, "I kept pretending to be who I wanted to be and one day, I wasn't pretending anymore." My thoughts carried into my actions, and together those things made me whole. As bad as things were, at this point I'm thankful because they gave me the opportunity to discover who I really am.

    Can you expound upon what you said about Eleanor Roosevelt's quote being dangerous? I can tell you feel that deeply, but I am not able to connect the dots.

    Also: I picked up a book called Psychic Self-Defense, a book on "safe-guarding yourself against paranormal malevolence." I thought of you and 100 Unfortunate Days when I saw it at the bookstore. It's for research for my next book, but I'm honestly curious to see the occult take on mental power to harm/protect.

    1. Aniko! That book sounds like something I may need. I am going to look into it and get it.
      As for Eleanor's quote, I think that quote simplifies a very complex subject.
      Children can be made to feel terrible by parents--whether on purpose or not. If they are young enough the results can be catastrophic because they truly cannot do anything to stop the onslaught. Anyone who is not self confident or stuck in a situation they do not know how to escape or control can be made to feel bad. If a person tries and tries to extricate themselves from a bad situation or life but cannot could be made to feel worse by that quote. Some don't know they can get therapy, some cannot afford it, some are too embarrassed. To make a long story short it puts everything right back on the person who is suffering. Sorry if I still have not explained why that quote bugs me so much.
      And as for you, I am glad to hear that you found your way through. I don't know who said this quote but I LOVE this one--"If you are going through hell--keep going."
      And I DO think we create our lives to a point--but some of it is out of our control.

  3. I'm not sure if The Law of Attraction and all that is 100% true. I am very positive, yet I attract jealousy & bullies. I am a magnet for alcoholics even though I don't drink much. I also agree with you on that quote. I was a baby brought up to feel inferior to an abusive controlling mother. I never gave her my consent. I also see what other mothers do to their kids with abuse. I don't think college instructors want to make students feel inferior, as a motivation, but they often do. Same with writers to one another. Etc, etc. that quote is kind of a cop out.

    1. Yup Red--exactly.
      Parents are everything to little kids, if they are told they are bad--they believe it!
      And as for you attracting certain types, I think that certain people listen better, understand more, and just resonate with people where others might not give them the time of day. I think we all come across negative types--
      Some of these relationships start fine too.
      That quote is a copout. Boo. Do not like it.

  4. Yeah, I hate Eleanor Roosevelt too :)

    Just kidding.

    Interesting post, and I remember that I really was interested in the idea of tulpas. Even bookmarked that section on my Kindle (and if you'd asked me a year ago, I probably would've never thought I'd say anything like that).

    I think there is definitely power in our thoughts. But on the flip side, I am rewatching Season 1 of "The Walking Dead" with my wife and stepdaughter, and there's a great line when one of the guys is infected and dying. "Hear that sound? That's God laughing at your plans."

    I think we can control certain things, but certain things are beyond our control (how was that for broad and general?)

    Paul D. Dail A horror writer's not necessarily horrific blog

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. OHHH!! I love that quote Paul. How eerie and deliciously horrible.
      But don't get me started on God...
      Sometimes I wonder if it isn't a lot like that phenomenon when you bring something up, or you like something and suddenly decide you want it--like a silver Mercedes--you will see them EVERYWHERE you look. If we focus, it will come.
      I have GOT to start watching Walking Dead. My son read the comics a few years ago and was hooked--he told me it was awesome.
      The idea of tulpas fascinates me too. And scares me a bit.
      Good chat :)

  6. Funny, I've been struggling with my outlook over the the past few years and feel like I'm finally coming "out the other side.". I still have bad days, but I actually notice them as bad days because I have some good days in between :) For me, getting involved in writing and the writing community again is helping as much as anything else. Creativity took a back seat to child-rearing and it turns out that was an unhealthy thing for me. I've also been making an unconscious effort to look for the good things every day. What I *can* I, rather than what do I want to do that I *can't* do.

    1. Keep fighting the good fight, Marie. Actively pursuing the things that lift you up is super smart. I know from experience that just getting yourself to *move* in a positive direction seems so gargantuan a task as to be impossible, but that's the worst of it. Once I'm moving, I'm on a roll. :-)
      Some Dark Romantic

    2. Me too Mina.
      Sometimes you have to take the tiniest thing and just get that done--then it almost seems harder to stop moving.

    3. Yay Marie!
      Having a kid changes everything, and made some things almost impossible for me--so I know what you mean when you say it was a bad move to stop writing. The same thing happened to me--I was just finishing up my first kid's book and my son came along. Needless to say everything came to a screaching halt and that book is still not published.
      Glad, glad , glad you are doing what you want and have come through the other side.

  7. I despise that quote, and countless others that echo it. People *absolutely* can harm us without our consent, and DO, and folks who say differently have their heads up their butts. Spewing forth that and other bubble-gum aphorisms solves nothing and makes folks who are suffering hurt all the more. Better to acknowledge that there's a lot about life that sucks and then offer support to those who need help escaping the ick.

    The whole point of cognitive behavioral therapy is to change your thinking, so you can change your behavior, so you can change your life. It works for some, others need some meds to help in the process. But none of it's as simple as "the power of positive thinking."

    I'm with Paul - somethings we can change, others are completely out of our control and the best we can hope for is to find coping mechanisms which won't harm us further.
    Some Dark Romantic

    1. Mina I agree.
      If we gloss over everything and force a smile I feel like we are damaging something. The something might not be immediately apparent, but it always comes out in the wash.
      Sometimes I think psychotherapy should be part of high school--help everyone before they get out there and wreak havoc on the world.
      By the way--I will finally be getting to The Versatile Blogger. Thanks for the nomination :) and the comments--great as always.

  8. I don't have a story for you, but I do believe we can shape our world with our thoughts. Some of it is also about our perception. (How we view what we see). I know I'd rather be happy with positive thinking, than depressed with negative thinking!

  9. I totally agree.
    Sometimes I feel like I need a bit of a reminder of how good certain things really are.
    I also think it is easier to be glum and look at the negative--it is a bit harder to be helpful, happy, and useful. We actually have to DO something
    Glad you came to visit, hope you come back and add to the conversation :)

  10. I discovered your web site via Google while looking for a related subject, lucky for me your web site came up, its a great website. I have bookmarked it in my Google bookmarks. You really are a phenomenal person with a brilliant mind! medical marijuana gilbert


I would LOVE to know what you think. All spam or comments with links will be deleted.