The Magic Of Embracing The Negative!

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I am always looking for new ways to clear space.  Physical space, emotional space, mental space… all of it.

Negativity is a funny kind of clutter.

I may be as optomistic as they come in many regards, but I have been up against lots of my own negative ideas lately. Its funny: when I am in the midst of doing great things, these negative demons of my mind often fly out like papers stuffed in a drawer or junk in a closet.

You can only stuff things away for so long before they demand attention.

For years I have tried to simply “ignore” the negative and fixate on a positive future event. That led to a life of delusion that came crumbling down upon me in a tidal wave of illness and immense debt.

Then, I tried consuming myself in the negative and turned my world into the science project of “Creating Dana.” The problem: the whole driving force of my life was problems, and when I solved the big ones I had to create more of them to continue in this way.

Along the road of countless books, experts, homeopathy and finally, Buddhist wisdom, I learned a few things worth sharing, especially if you are feeling pressure to seem like you have it all together, to be crazy-positive and wildly optimistic all the time. 

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When you push against things, you tend to get pushed back.

When dealing with the idea of pushing against the things that you don’t want, I am reminded of Newton’s Third Law of Physics that states ” For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”

Sometimes if you get deep into pushing against the negative, you get pushed back.

Rebel against a boss you don’t like and see how far you get. 

Scream back at someone sreaming at you and see how fast things never get resolved. 

Bully back a bully and you just become a bully, too.  You’ve stopped to the level you didn’t want to be at. 

Forcing away the negative is not really a great tactic.

Fantasy isn’t cool either. Ignoring things doesn’t make them go away.

When it comes to creating a more positive life, I see some people trying to tell me that everything is OK when it is not.  I’ve been there.

The surface optimism and sugar-coating doesn’t allow for the truth to be revealed.  How can you possibly have a great life if you can’t confront the facts of it.  Your health, your habits, your bank account balance, your morals, your peers: all important facts.

You can only hide out in “it’s all good” for so long when “its actually not all good” before things implode.

Optimism is awesome. But when you have a chance to embrace the negative, that’s when you can take quantum leaps forward.  After all: once you hear and identify what you have been telling yourself for a long time, you can now target the real issues.

Being balanced and actually embracing things for what they are = personally life changing. 

In a brilliant article in Psychology Today, Stop Fighting Your Negative Thoughts, Barbara Markway, PhD, writes about a new way to frame negative thinking.  Namely: its not realistic to have zero negative thoughts.  What matters isn’t “having the thought.” What matters is “believing it is true.”  She offers seven strategies to reinvent your view of negative thinking, by, in a sense, embracing it! Here are a few of my favorites:

“Let them float away. This one involves imagery. You put each negative thought on a leaf and imagine it floating down a stream. When you have another thought, as you will, you put it on another leaf and watch it float by.”

I love visualizing  images like this because they make things feel less “heavy”and, in the process, easier to confront.

“Name your stories. Many times our thoughts are repetitive and involve the same stories. My story frequently is, “I don’t really know what I’m doing.” When thoughts come up along that storyline, I can say, “Oh, here’s my I’m Incompetent story, and just let it go.”

This is a brilliant way to understand your own tendancies and rol with them rather than being a slave to them.

“Do it anyway. Perhaps the most important tip is to remember that you can have a thought and perform any kind of behavior at the same time. If it’s something you care about, it’s worth it to let the thoughts simply be. You don’t have to do anything about them. When I work with clients on their anxiety using exposure therapy (face-your-fear therapy) the most important thing they report learning is, “I can function even when I’m anxious.” (you can read the whole article HERE) 

And yes, no matter what: keep going!

Just because you have a few negative thoughts doesn’t make you a terrible person. It doesn’t make you less worthy of good things. It doesn’t poison your life.

Sunny optimism, positive thoughts and wonderful intentions have been proven to be super-powerful. But you are not a robot.

We all have bad moments, bad weeks and even trying life events that last longer. Its totally fine. Embrace what’s happening.  After all, what you ignore will linger, hiding like junk waiting to pour out of a closet.

Tranform what you can, move beyond what you can’t, and keep going.  That’s the best way I’ve found to clear mental space, being willing to experience all of life while being led by those gorgeous dreams.

Lots of the best advice I have found in this regard comes from adept Cognitive Behavioral therapists. So, if you are thinking of therapy, you may want to read into it a bit.  When done well, its a form of modern alchemy.

xoxo Dana

 

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Noor April 4, 2014 at 7:47 am

Thank you Dana. Have a blessed Friday xxx

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danaclaudat April 4, 2014 at 9:26 pm

You too! xoxoxo

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