Positive thinking is the one of the most popular terms used in personal development.
You should stay positive…You need to be more positive…Always find something positive in the situation.
I bet you heard that a lot before.
Great advice, I have nothing against it…but how is it working for you?
I’ll tell you how it was working for me in the past. I used to be a big believer in positive thinking. Focus on positive things, you’ll get more positive things into your life, focus on negativity and that’s what you’ll get, right?
Again great advice, I totally agree with it.
But too often in the quest for trying to stay positive we reject ourselves. Or at least a part of us that is not always positive.
We are not perfect and we do get angry, frustrated, sad, and we do feel lonely and unhappy from time to time. It is life and things do happen no matter how positive you try to be.
Well, what I used to do in the past when I felt those negative emotions is I would first start blaming myself:” Why are you being negative, why can’t just stay positive?” Then I would try to push those feelings down and refocus. Or I would try to logically analyze them and give them my interpretation to make myself feel better.
It did work, but eventually those negative feelings would come out again, because they didn’t really go away, they were just pushed deeper inside of me.
Just like when a child needs your attention, you can distract him for awhile by giving him a toy, but after awhile he’ll be there again asking for your attention.
Some people are naturally positive and it is wonderful to be that way. But for most people staying positive means resisting a part of them that wants to be negative from time to time. It also means ignoring your feelings, resisting them and not accepting yourself.
Shadow is a part of life.
Without shadows we wouldn’t be complete. I am not saying we should all start dwelling on our negative feelings. What I am saying is that in order for us to let them go, we have to accept them first.
Accept your negative emotions, accept those parts of you that you don’t like but don’t dwell on them. When you accept them you’ll see how much easier it is to let them go.
The problem that happens with most people who are so much into positive thinking is that each time they happen to have a negative thought or feeling they start blaming themselves and try to push those feelings away. They are afraid to feel their feeling fully.
What you resist persists.
Resisting your negative thoughts and feelings rarely works, just like resisting anything else in life. Accepting them on the other hand lets them go. It is counterintuitive but often we need to focus on the negative emotion with as much attention as possible, feel it as fully as possible, and express it all the way in order for us to let it go.
Pushing it down and ignoring it might work temporarily, but it won’t work long term, eventually those feelings will come out.
So forget about positive thinking.
Focus on acceptance. You are not perfect and probably never will be. Accept yourself with all of your shadows.
I am a member of a wonderful group called Awakening to Wholeness led by an amazing teacher named Michael Casteel. He teaches Emotional Mastery which is simply a method to learn to feel your feelings fully without giving them some kind of interpretation.
If you feel sadness, you feel it fully without feelings of sadness about that sadness. If you are angry, you feel angry fully, without being angry at yourself for being angry or trying to push that feeling away.
You face your feelings; you name them as they are.
If you feel fear, you face it, you feel it fully and amazingly that allows you to not be overtaken by that fear. Actually fear goes away because you felt it fully, you faced it and that allowed you to release it.
You consciously face your feelings and that allows you to accept yourself and to experience more joy and peace and power.
Here is the process Michael teaches to follow to gain emotional mastery and to actually help yourself let go of your negative feelings without much effort:
- Focus on the feeling you are having. Name it.
- Ask yourself where you feel it in your body
- Say it out loud, naming the feeling. If you are mad say- “I am mad”, if you feel lonely, say-“I feel lonely.”
- Express the feeling the way it feels appropriate to you. If you need to cry – cry. If you need to slam your fist on the table-do it.
- Continue focusing on the feeling wherever you feel it in your body
- Stay with that feeling, feel it all the way, feel it fully, don’t be afraid of it.
- In a few minutes you’ll feel relief; the feeling will subside and eventually go away.
Imagine a crying child.
If you ignore him or just pretend that you care, the child won’t calm down. Only when you hold him tight and are actually there for him 100% will he stop crying and become happy again.
Treat your feelings just like you would treat a crying child.
Feel them fully, don’t try to give them interpretation or push them away.
You can’t push them away, you can only push them deeper inside of you. They will come out eventually.
Only by facing them, by feeling them fully, without trying to analyze, without judgment, can you let them go.
After that, focusing on a positive side of the situation will be easy. Staying positive will be easy.
You have to accept yourself completely, with your shadows, with your imperfections, and with your sadness and anger when they come.
Only true acceptance will make you a better and more positive person naturally, without much effort.
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