(not by me)
We often hear that the secret to success is to think
positively or feel appreciation and gratitude.
While these are definitely powerful practices, they
can turn us against parts of ourselves that aren't
thinking and feeling that way.
As a result, we may become resistant to having
negative thoughts and feelings or try to avoid anything
that isn't sweet and rosy.
However, these resistant or avoident strategies fail to
acknowledge the reason why these thoughts and feelings
arise. Instead of alleviating negativity, if anything,
they perpetuate it. Today I'd like to give you different
strategy that both honors and releases us from the
negative effects of negativity.
So, it's likely that you've heard the headlines
that positive thinking and feeling boost your energy
and immune function and propel you toward all the good
things in life. When you hear that news, it's natural to
want to only have positive thoughts and feelings.
It's natural to get a negative edge toward negativity.
It's natural to see negativity as the enemy of your
dreams and higher aspirations. It's natural to fear it
and want to avoid it at all costs.
However, it also seems to be true that what we resist
or avoid persists. When we resist something, we keep
it alive as something we are pushing against. When we
avoid negativity the cause of that negativity goes
unnoticed. It gets stored in our subconscious and
continues to wreak silent havoc there.
So if resistance and avoidance don't work, what other
strategy is possible? Is there another way to relate
to negativity that honors its purpose and creates
deeper release and integration at the same time?
Is there a way to relate to negativity that actually uses
its energy and information in a positive way? Is there
another way to view positive thinking and feeling that
includes negativity as a healthy and beneficial aspect
of your life?
The problem with the "headline" view of positive
thinking and feeling is that it leads you to believe
that you are supposed to try to always have only
positive thoughts and feelings.
Here's a news flash:
That's not going to happen.
You are a human being who is involved in complex
systems of relationships, events, and circumstances
that create many different appropriate states of thought
and feeling. Things happen that have appropriate
emotional responses of anger, sadness, and fear.
When things don't go well, it's appropriate to have
"negative" thoughts about what is happening.
So called "negative" thoughts and feelings arise as
responses to what is actually happening inside and
around us. Now, certainly, sometimes we
over-dramatize these thoughts and feelings, blow them
out of proportion, and allow them to carry us away in
actions that are damaging to ourselves and others.
However, if we shift our relationship to these
"negative" experiences, we can learn from them and
use their energy and information appropriately.
Let's redefine positive thinking and feeling as a
"positive attitude to whatever happens." It is about
how we relate to "positive" or "negative" experiences,
events, and circumstances. We can teach ourselves to
view each moment, thought, feeling, and experience as
Negative thoughts and feelings can be our greatest
teachers, when we view them in a positive way.
For example, if you have a negative thought such as
"I can't do that. I'm a loser. I have no skills
here," instead of resisting those thoughts and trying
to have a positive one instead, see if you can turn and
face those thoughts head-on.
Ask yourself, "What is the message in this thought?"
See if you can turn the light of your awareness directly
on that "negative" thought and see what you can learn
When you turn and face your thought, rather than
resisting or avoiding it, you gain a different relationship
to it. If you welcome and accept your thought and seek
"the gift" in it, you now have a new positive relationship
with it. The thought loses its negative force and
becomes a portal of information.
For example, the negative thoughts above could be
pointing out that, in this situation, it would be good
to learn and practice a specific skill. If you look at
what you are not doing well head-on, without shrinking
from it, you can learn how to do things better.
The same idea can be applied to emotions. For example,
anger can alert you that something or someone needs
protection. Sadness can alert you that it's time to
let go of something or someone. Fear can alert you to
possible action that you need to take.
Any uncomfortable experience arises with information
about yourself and others and energy to do something
with that information. Negative thoughts and feelings
alert you that something needs to be acknowledged,
learned, and/or shifted.
When you turn toward, welcome, accept, and appreciate
every thought, feeling, and sensation as a moment of
information, you gain access to that information so
you can use it effectively. You've now gained a
positive viewpoint within a "negative" thought,
feeling, or sensation.
This is a deeper and more productive meaning of
positive thinking and feeling. It is an empowering
attitude toward life.
Enjoy your practice!