Another Huckster Movie—I Am

Oh, yawn. Another movie pitching “positive thinking.” Will anyone actually watch this thing? Yes, sadly. 

I like PsychCentral’s Marla Estes’ review: http://blogs.psychcentral.com/movies/2011/05/i-am/ Her penetrating assessment will not be read by a tenth as many people as those who will watch the movie and swallow its message. Ms. Estes’ core message is:

The director emphasizes being good and having positive feelings, the implication being that “negative” feelings are the cause of our social problems. On the contrary: in and of themselves, emotions aren’t a problem. It’s what we do (or don’t do) with them that causes trouble. If we decide that we must get rid of or overcome  “negative” emotions, they then go into our Shadow, which contains anything repressed, hidden, or unconscious in our psyches. This reflects the operation of splitting, a psychological defense mechanism.

Sadly the “just change your beliefs/thoughts and you change your feelings and your life is bright and shiny and positive” canard is still with us. This falsehood is with us even though brain science proved it dead wrong more than twelve years ago. What really happens is that we experience feelings in the limbic portion of the brain and and later wrap explanatory thoughts around the feelings in the neo-cortex. The process does not work in reverse. Thoughts do not change feelings. Thoughts are the result of feelings.

Since real change, that is, getting in and becoming familiar with ALL of our feelings is a long, long process that takes an enormous amount of courage—no huckster can make money selling it. So they make up the “quick-and-easy-positivity” for those who faintly aspire to transformation vis-a-vis forcing a few thoughts out of their mind and the denial of “negative” feelings. Ascribing to these hucksters’ simplistic nonsense is like dining at McDonalds exclusively and expecting to be well-nourished and healthy as a result. You might leave full, but not sustained or well-fed. The place for positive thinking and thought-control is very similar to eating at McDonald’s—to be used as a stop-gap measure until real sustenance can be obtained. It is not nourishing although it might prevent you from crashing in an emergency. 

Spiritualizing one’s genuine feelings is called spiritual bypassing. No one writes better on the topic than Robert A. Masters: http://www.robertmasters.com/newsletter/February2010.pdf   (see page 9 of the newsletter). Robert  A. Johnson, that beloved Jungian psychologist, calls this “addressing the problem on the wrong level.” Feelings need to be handled on the human feeling level, not bludgeoned with thoughts or wishful spirituality.

Most tragically, these aspirers never get what they paid for (yet, they are blamed by the hucksters for not being positive enough/not doing enough affirmations or whatever) and as a result, they aspirants do a lot of damage with their disowned/denied/dissociated “negative” feelings leaking out covertly all over their lives.

So here is a movie that plays right into the hucksters’ hands. This is more fundamentalist New-Agism which is as full of shame and “shoulds’ as any traditional fundamentalist system.

A creed’s conspicuous shadow absence usually indicates fundamentalism, as surely as does an identified bogey-man. So if you are being promised all shiny and new if you just (fill in the blank), run! Run far, far, away. You have ben offered “drive-through transformation” and you are being gypped. And it is critically important that you actually feel how cheated you really have been. Start there. If you get lost or mired, there are guides along the way, seek out a therapist, read Jungian psychology books, enter into group therapy,  journal, do body work, but let the truth about how you feel be the starting point.

Can’t figure out what your feelings are or how to work with them? Try Karla McLarens’ The Language of Emotions:http://tiny.cc/ztmah the best singular volume on feelings/emotions and how to approach them.

If you fail to sit with your real feelings you will spend an enormous amount of energy trying to work from a place that you do not really reside in. A super-sized self-fraud if you will.

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One thought on “Another Huckster Movie—I Am

  1. Could I induce you to visit Unity Village (the New Age mecca in Missouri, for any of your readers who don’t know) and share what you’ve said above? I’d pay good money for that, my friend 🙂 As one still struggling to recover from their “all rainbows, no rain” philosophy–which doesn’t do justice to the richer, more complex theology upon which Unity was founded–I am immensely grateful for your insight and advice. Preach on!

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