Have you ever just had one of those days where you just want to call in sick to life?
Where you wake up in frustration and just feel as though nothing is working for you?
I know I sure have—I’m currently having one as I write this, and sometimes my brain likes to tell me that I am the only one who feels that way. I know on an intellectual level that there’s no way I am the only one who feels a bit on the negative side. Yet when my mind goes there, I immediately grab a hold of that emotionally, and off to the races we go.
The inner critic pipes up. It’s amazing how loud she can be, even after months of having no voice at all. Boom, there she is out of nowhere: “Why bother? You’re going to fail anyway? Why try? It’s never going to work. Just go back to bartending. Why are you trying to be something you’re not? F*ck this, I don’t want to. There’s always something to complain about so screw being positive.”
Yes, my friends, even I, your queen of positive thinking and pushing out of the comfort zone, have days where I just want to be a Negative Nancy raining on everyone’s parade! It’s funny when it happens now because I don’t allow it to ruin my day any more. Now I smile in the face of my inner negativity.
Like a bratty child having a temper tantrum, I put her on timeout before I go interact with the world.
How do I put her on timeout? Usually meditation or yoga. And a lot of breathwork and pausing before I speak. I also talk about it with someone who knows me well because I have found that not denying my bad mood is the quickest way to diffuse it. This is so vital because that which we deny inside ourselves becomes our puppet master. We become the marionette to the very thing we want to just wish away and deny its existence. The very things we deny being are often our jailers.
My practice is heavily influenced by the Buddhist and Hindu traditions because they openly encourage us to look at ourselves in all areas of our lives and examine all of our flaws. So these are some of my favorite pieces of wisdom for the days when Negative Nancy wants to run the show:
>> “May all circumstances serve to awaken our heart and mind, especially those circumstances I deem to be challenging, and may my life be of benefit to all beings.” ~ Buddhist prayer
I repeat this one over and over some days. In the face of my negativity, I seek to awaken my heart.
>> “See if you can catch yourself complaining, in either speech or thought, about a situation you find yourself in, what other people do or say, your surroundings, your life situation, even the weather. To complain is always nonacceptance of what is. It invariably carries an unconscious negative charge. When you complain, you make yourself into a victim. When you speak out, you are in your power. So change the situation by taking action or by speaking out if necessary or possible; leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
We are stuck in such a pattern of complaining in our society these days. People who have nothing to complain about complain. They complain just to complain. I’m guilty of it on occasion, and I’ve really started stopping the complaints in their tracks, shifting them instead into words of gratitude. Because to complain about something I’m not willing to change is a waste of energy, and it spreads toxic vibrations. Begin noticing your own complaint patterns and apply this wisdom.
>> “We all experience negativity––the basic aggression of wanting things to be different than they are. We cling, we defend, we attack, and throughout, there is a sense of one’s own wretchedness, and so we blame the world for our pain. This is negativity.” ~ Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche
To me, if Rinpoches, who are some of the most spiritually enlightened people on the planet, understand negativity, then clearly it’s a common human condition. Yet we think we need to hide and condemn it, and we feel this great aversion to it. We blame outwardly when we feel wretched inside. How differently this belief can shift our view of others when they respond negatively. We can feel compassion for them as they face their own feelings of wretchedness because we understand.
>> “The basic honesty and simplicity of negativity can be creative in community as well as in personal relationships. Basic negativity is very revealing, sharp and accurate. If we leave it as basic negativity rather than overlaying it with conceptualizations, then we see the nature of its intelligence. Negativity breeds a great deal of energy, which clearly seen becomes intelligence.” ~ Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche
Who would’ve thought negativity could be used for a good cause? That was news to me. But it’s true. When we can observe and not engage with silly negative behaviors like gossip, tension, friction, or complaining, we can use it for growth and analyzation.
>> “The real task of a buddhadharma practitioner is to defeat this inner enemy. Otherwise, if you let negative emotions and thoughts arise inside you without any sense of restraint, without any mindfulness of their negativity, then in a sense you are giving them free reign. They can then develop to the point where there is simply no way to counter them. However, if you develop mindfulness of their negativity, then when they occur, you will be able to stamp them out as soon as they arise. You will not give them the opportunity or the space to develop into full-blown negative emotional thoughts.” ~ Dalai Lama
Do you want to give the negativity free reign? I know I don’t. And I know these words to be true.
The bottom line is this: Negativity is normal! Isn’t that good news? And we can be free from its grip over our moods and actions. I’m living proof of this.
May it be of benefit.
Author: Lindsay Carricarte
Image: Travis May
Editor: Travis May