How many times have you been told to “focus on the positive” or “look on the bright side” or “count your blessings?” All of those things are important, and I try to do them as often as possible, but what happens when a negative thought or reaction creeps in? If we believe too firmly the advice above, we find ourselves feeling guilty or ashamed of our negative thoughts, and that brings our energy down even further.
That’s what I experienced this week. Something happened that was all kinds of good, yet my immediate response was to feel a bit slighted. I knew I was probably overreacting and that many of my friends would be surprised to hear I’d had even a touch of cynicism about the whole affair. But there it was, nagging me.
So, I decided to test my concern. I e-mailed a trusted friend to tell him what happened, and he rightly pointed out that the good far outweighed the bad in this case. But he did not judge me for having had the negative thought in the first place. That’s why he’s the one I chose to e-mail.
We are told to stifle our egos, but that’s not really possible, is it? Even though I recognized I was responding from a place of ego, that did not make the feeling any less real. I tried to stuff my negative thought and move on, but that rarely works. Thoughts have a way of worming out of the holes in which we bury them.
By embracing vulnerability and telling my friend, “Hey, I know this may be stupid, but this is how I’m feeling,” I was able to release the emotion. Only then was I able to fully embrace all the good that had come from the situation.
It’s a worthy goal to try to focus on the positive. But too much of anything is rarely the answer. So, if a negative thought or emotion arises, don’t beat yourself up. It can serve a purpose too. By delving into what brought on my reaction and talking to my friend, I was able to see what was really bothering me. I felt more prepared to deal with a circumstance like that in the future. And it felt good to realize my strong reaction came from a positive place – the passion and pride I feel for the work I do. From negative to positive; it can come full circle if you first let it be.
Teresa R. Funke
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