Monday, November 30, 2009

Make Friends With Your Negatives


Living With Your Negatives


If you have been studying personal growth materials for any
length of time, you have probably heard it said over and over
again that the name of the game is positive thinking. In other
words,  you must work to reduce and ultimately eliminàte negative
thinking and emotions from your life.

Well, yes. It's a nice idea in theory, but the practical reality
is something different altogether.

Although it is definitely correct and useful to develop an
overall optimistic and positive mindset, it may NOT be helpful to
try to eliminàte ALL negative thinking and emotions from your

Quite simply, to try to do so is rather like trying to bail out
the ocean from a leaky lifeboat, using just a coffee mug. The
more you do it, the more there is to do, and the more hopeless
the task seems to become. From a purely human aspect of striving,
it is an almost impossible task.

Indeed, the problem with getting too hung up with the negative
aspects of ourselves is that it can be a very dispiriting
experience if you are expecting to see positive improvement, but
it nèver really happens, or else you end up backsliding.

Hence, too much focus upon the negative side of your personality
can be rather like trying to dig the seeds up every day to see
how they're growing. Ultimately, they won't grow at all.

Why do people have negative emotions and attitudes? Well, put
simply, it's the human condition, certainly in the unenlightened
state. This is a BIG subject and one we cannot tackle here.
Childhood experiences, genetics, influence of peers, even past
lives (!) - they probably all play a part.

However, what is for sure is that you are very unlikely to
overcome the matter in the very near future. Certainly, there are
personal development gurus who claim that you can, and even give
the impression that they have done so themselves. However, you
don't know them personally, and you are not there in every moment
to see if they really have. Maybe their spouse might tell another
story altogether!

Even the major spiritual traditions emphasize how hard it really
is to overcome the negative aspects of ourselves. Christianity
goes as far as to talk about Original Sin, i.e. that we are
actually totally helpless to effect lasting change on account of
the fact that we inherited this "sinful" condition at birth. We
need the heavenly "Salvation" that comes from above, and which is
effectively a "new birth". However, even this only comes into
effect in full force when the old bòdy is shed off and the new
spiritual bòdy taken on. Buddhism talks about achieving
"Enlightenment", which is an analogous concept, but which
is tied in more to liberation from ignorance, delusion, and the
shackles of the Flesh.

Hence, if you think you are going to solve ALL your personality
issues overnight by listening to a twenty minute self-hypnosis
tape, or by doing some affirmations... Well, it's unlikely to

However, that does not mean to say that personal growth is a
waste of time. You ARE supposed to accentuate the positive. Just
don't focus on any perceived lack of progress with the negative,
or get frustrated with its continued presence. Use "moving
towards" motivation, i.e. moving TOWARDS what you want, rather
than "moving away from" motivation, i.e. trying to avoid and
deny what you do NOT want.

Whatever you focus your mind upon has a tendency to grow in
power. Hence, focusing on your negativities has a tendency to
make them stronger. Focus rather upon what you wish to incrèase
in your life, and let the negative side of your personality find
its own place. In other words, make friènds with it a bit, rather
than treat it as an enemy. Regard it rather as you would an
aching limb. You don't hate it just because it aches!

Statistics show that optimistic people actually have a lower risk
of heart disease than pessimistic people. Hence, even from a
purely pragmatic health perspective, it IS better to be positive
than negative in mental outlook! No doubt about it.

nèvertheless, total liberation from the negative side of our
personalities does not come without a total spiritual rebirth.
This is not a matter of a few months or years of toil. Maybe it
will take countless lifetimes for most people, as the Buddhists
believe to be the case.

You do well to remember the Eastern perspective of Yin and Yang
- the teaching that dark and light are inextricably interwoven
and inseparable in this cosmos. That applies within our minds
too. To try to separate one from the other, using standard
psychological tools, is a pretty hopeless task.

Only a new creation, entirely other than this world, can
ever reconciles this paradox and live in harmony with it. That is
the goal of the spiritual path. So, until then, be easy on
yourself. Celebrate every advance, but don't let any apparent
negative personality aspects get you down.

Copyright Asoka Selvarajah 2004. All Rights Reserved.
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This article is for informational purposes only.
Please contact a licensed professional in your area
if you are in crisis or require mental health services

David Bruce

Healthy Boundaries & Victim Behavior