Trying to be positive when that’s not how you feel is kind of like being hungry with a plate of food in front of you, but allowing yourself only a few or no bites. And then there’s the guilt, right?
Sometimes it can feel frustrating to me to practice what I preach: Look for and aim at the positive aspects and a positive attitude in each moment for your own peace of mind and harmony in your life. Why is this? I think it’s because I, and maybe you, too, aim at the desired end result too close to an experience and forget there’s a process that has a purpose that fits right smack in the middle of those two points. That process includes feelings we may label as negative, but they need to “eat” too.
I believe I’m a spiritual being having a human experience, but sometimes I slip into judgment about the human part of that equation, as though it has less value than the spiritual part, instead of being the yang to that yin, or to say it another way, the other side of a whole coin. When I do this to myself, I get onto a merry-go-round that spins a lot, but takes me nowhere. When I disregard my human aspect in this way, it puts me into the mindset of denying my emotions and feelings, as though they are faulty burdens or flaws rather than tools that are also gifts that inform. And, that doesn’t feel good either.
When we feel negative, how obligated are we to feel better fast? I think part of our confusion about this is that we try to respond to such times according to what others expect or we think they do—so, we think that’s what we also should believe, rather than let our human and spiritual aspects act as the partners they are so they can take us through an experience and move us beyond it. This is one reason some of our issues stay unresolved for such a lengthy time: we don’t hang out with them long enough in a way that allows us to be self-informed enough to make firm decisions about how to make an inner then outer shift. However, being “too comfortable” in negativity means identifying with it, as though it has you rather than you have it.
When any of us deny an emotion that asks for our attention, we deny its right to be heard. It’s like feeling the sting of a splinter in your finger, yet insisting it should be ignored in favor of a “higher” approach. It’s a fact that if that splinter finds its way deeper into your body and travels, that ain’t good. That’s what happens with denied feelings. Instead of being fully present with what’s going on, we judge ourselves for having anything going on that’s not totally positive… like insisting our coin always land heads-up and never tails-up. It’s just not realistic.
If you also believe you’re a spiritual being having a human experience, why do you think that is—what I mean is why come here to be in a body? I think we do that to feel, including feelings—like instead of watching a movie, we become actors in it so we experience it. Yet, this seems to be the very thing many of us try not to do inside our lives. With all the things we feel annoy us in life, this denial of our whole self is a really big one we annoy ourselves with.
Here are some of my personal annoyances. Maybe you share one or more:
There are times I don’t like what my human “mirrors” show me about myself. It annoys me to have a gripe about someone and have to face the fact that I do what I’m griping about them doing, in some way, shape, or form. If I don’t want to see it in them or be triggered negatively when I do, I have to shift it so I’m not doing my version of it anymore.
It sometimes annoys me to realize that thinking about “can’t’s” and “won’t’s”, as in what I can’t do and what I don’t have, will NEVER create desired results, that I really do have to direct my thoughts onto what I can do and what I do have if I want desired experiences and results. This one comes from those early years when we’re taught to compare ourselves to others, but with a negative comparison instead of a positive one, a habit we tend to continue as adults. Imagine Mozart self-judging because he wasn’t something other than what he was. He focused on what he did best, and which fed his spiritual-human self.
It annoys me to be in a bad mood and it annoys me to think I should never be in a bad mood. This is some part of me “dissing” my human aspect because, after all, as someone who’s in the self-improvement arena, I “should” always be in a good mood, right? No. I prefer to be in a good mood, so I know I’ll eventually make the effort to go in that direction or hit that target. But the fact is that sometimes it feels GOOD to be in a bad mood just for a while. Whether I inflict that on someone else and to what degree, is another matter altogether.
I know that wallowing in any emotion doesn’t benefit me, and I know that wallowing and experiencing are not the same things. I know that denial of my emotions doesn’t feel good, but neither does letting them rule me like an unruly child. I know that self-judgment never improves a down or bad mood, but denying that this happens sometimes, puts me on that merry-go-round.
I do appreciate how quickly a not-great or even bad mood can flip in a flash. I value those moments. When this happens it’s usually because someone stated appreciation to me in some way or I chose to do or say something that made another person smile or feel appreciated. Maybe we ought to re-assess and re-value how valuable appreciation is to us and others.
You may grasp and accept that everything happens for a reason, has a purpose, and has perfection in the bigger scheme, but it takes true integration before you behave like a calm, wise sage when something affects you and your life. The sage still feels, but has applied him- or herself to doing the process that leads to expanded conscious awareness, by taking themselves through contrasts brought to their attention through emotions and feelings. This process done consistently for however long it takes is what allows them to more quickly close the gap between upset feelings about an experience and true spiritual understanding and at-one-ment, which leads them to manage themselves in the way most of us aspire to do.
Life is about looking for and traveling in the direction that leads us along our path that takes us from one point to another. But, it’s our path to walk. However, we can choose who we engage with at times and how. We can choose to talk to friends, a life coach, or a counselor or therapist. We can be aware there are three forms of communication. There’s complaining while being closed to feedback and productive action steps, which energetically drains the complainer and those who listen to it. There’s venting, which is about tea and sympathy; it asks for a gentle listener who cares and will support you. And there’s discussion, which is a way to brainstorm ideas and possible solutions. Sometimes, we do all three in one conversation. But you can aim at the same target performers do: Whatever happens during the performance, end well, because that’s what people remember.
There’s an art and science to using negative emotions in our favor. We can choose to put this into practice just as soon as we decide it’s time to stop being or stop enjoying being annoyed.
Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer
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