I Need Attitudinal Healing
How many people have you heard say, “It’s been a tough year. I’ll be glad to see 2011 go”? I’ve lost count. I’ve said it myself. I tend to get caught up in reflections from the past and projections into the future both of which typically leave me awash in some mixture of anger, resentment, fear and sadness. When I get stuck in that mode of thinking, I become fixated on the idea that the source of and solution for these feelings must come from somewhere else. Someone needs to apologize and atone for actions taken in the past. Someone needs to do more of something for me or to me. The world needs to change so that my life can be better. I would like to change but I can’t because these things have to happen first. Whatever it is, the solution doesn’t come from inside me and therefore I have no control over it. That form of thinking is a deeply engrained part of my experience of depression.
I strikes me that our culture (US culture) is stuck in a collective version of this style of thinking. We seem to be collectively held hostage by the desire to seek vengeance about the past and ruthlessly control how the future unfolds. Being hostile toward and critical of others has become our cultural pastime. Everywhere I look I see angry, defensive, bitter people ready for a fight over even the thought of being slighted. We rant on Twitter and Facebook about these things all the time. It seems to feel good to have your anger validated by friends. We also make fun of others whom we have observed being foolish and, again, enjoy having our observations validated by others. I see these behaviors when I look in the mirror too (I believe I referred to someone as a “stupid boy” just this morning…) and I don’t like it. It’s physically painful to be angry and resentful all the time. Over the past few months, I’ve been trying to recommit myself to thinking differently because I want that pain to stop. It’s a work in progress as these are patterns that have deep roots.
On advice of a friend many years ago, I read Dr. Gerald Jampolsky’s Teach only Love: Twelve Principles of Attitudinal Healing (2000) and have re-read parts of it several times since then. I find it both compelling and elegantly simple. When I can be disciplined enough to do so, practicing Attitudinal Healing is very peace-inducing for me.
According to the Attitudinal Healing International website, attitudinal healing is “based on the belief that it is not people or external situations that cause us to be upset. Rather, what causes us conflict and distress are our thoughts, feelings, and attitudes about people and events. Attitudinal Healing is letting go of fear and our negative, hurtful thoughts from the past” (What is attitudinal healing, Para. 2-3). Patricia Robinson defines Attitudinal Healing as follows:
Attitudinal Healing is not just adjusting or adapting our attitudes; rather, it is consciously choosing to let go of our fearful attitudes. It is a spiritual pathway that seeks to adopt a non-judgmental attitude toward oneself, others, and the world (n. d., p. 5).
In Teach only Love Jampolsky (2000, pp. 56-57) describes the Twelve Principles of Attitudinal Healing.
- The essence of our being is love.
- Health is inner peace. Healing is letting go of fear.
- Giving and receiving are the same.
- We can let go of the past and the future.
- Now is the only time there is and each instant is for giving.
- We can learn to love ourselves and others by forgiving rather than judging.
- We can become love finders rather than fault finders.
- We can choose and direct ourselves to be peaceful inside regardless of what is happening outside.
- We are students and teachers to each other.
- We can focus on the whole of life rather than the fragments.
- Since love is eternal death need not be viewed as fearful.
- We can always perceive ourselves and others as either extending love or giving a call for help.
In the coming weeks, I plan to explore each of these in my writing in hopes of solidifying their role in my thinking and my experience of self and world.