We love a bit of positive thinking in our household. When we sit around eating dinner together, we each take a moment to share what the best part of our day was. We practice gratitude, we look for positives in shitty situations and know that from chaos comes great change. And while cultivating a positive mindset is a wonderful tool to relieve stress and anxiety from your day to day life and help you find a state of calmness, there are some emotions that must be felt. Sometimes you just need to express that stuff bubbling up inside of you, instead of pushing it away and ignoring it with positive affirmations and comparing to how someone else in the world has it worse than you.
The other day I was listening to an episode of the Unmistakable Creative podcast and the guest speaker, Samantha Bennett, said something that really resonated with me in that moment and has continued to haunt me for the past few days. She said:
“Nothing bad is happening.”
At first, my response was, “well, yeah, of course nothing bad is happening, because everything is impermanent, and from darkness comes light,” and blah, blah, blah all my calm, rationale, yogic positive thought mindset babbled on. But, then she went on to explain that the use of the word bad is a disservice to ourselves. Bad doesn’t allow us to really feel anything or express what we need around the situation, so use the opportunity to change the language you use. Instead of saying that we had a bad day, a bad moment, a bad interview, a bad job, challenge yourself to go deeper. Get to the root of the emotion. What is it that is really going on?
- I’m frustrated because … happened and I couldn’t stop it
- I’m angry that … happened today
- I’m upset that … happened at work
- I’m disappointed that … happened during an interview
By putting an actual emotion to how we are feeling we can begin to give ourselves permission to feel it, express it and let it out. Rather than bottling it up and ignoring it, all in the name of positive mindset. Positive thinking can only take place and become a regular practice if you clear out all the other stuff from your mind. When we push our emotions down, refusing to deal with the emotions we deem not so pleasant, we create an environment that will be difficult to be positive in. With heat and lava bubbling away deep below the surface, eventually a volcano must erupt. It can’t contain that kind of energy for ever. Some times cracks appear on the edges of the volcano first, or some times the whole thing just blows in one big magnificent explosion of light and rage and energy.
So rather than letting ourselves, reach explosion point, how do we find the balance between thinking positively and still acknowledging and feeling our emotions??
Giving words to our emotions is a start. For some, this can be through venting, talking to a friend, your pet, or partner, or even having a conversation out loud with yourself. For others, it can be through writing it down. Start a journal and get your emotions out of you and on to the paper. Write yourself a letter, working through your emotions, give them names, sort out how you feel about them in your letter and then burn it, letting go of all the emotions you’ve just gotten out. And some times, in the words of Rebecca Campbell, “Every now and then we need to let our inner banshee reign.” So go outside, take a deep inhalation and then wail, yell, scream. It might be a jumble of swear words or you might have a particular phrase that is eagerly awaiting behind the wall of expectations of how you should behave, something you would never normally say. What ever it is, let it out.
While nothing bad is happening in our lives, we are always feeling something. Whether it’s an uplifting positive feeling, or a scary or confronting feeling. We are feeling something and it must be felt in it’s entirety. So give yourself permission to feel your emotions. Because you are the only one who can do so.