August 2, 2017

Where our Negativity comes from—& What to do about It.

Are you the philosophical type? 

While contemplation is beautiful, in that it is often born of curiosity and gives birth to understanding, contemplation can also feel consuming.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll know what I mean when I say: sometimes I get too in my head. I can get so fixated on concepts and beliefs that my reality funnels through this virtual plane of philosophizing verses being in the moment.

Sometimes, I’ll catch myself walking on the beach completely oblivious to the texture of the waves or the temperature of the sand beneath my feet, because I’m so lost in thought. Oftentimes, these thoughts lead to wonderful sparks of insight and clarity, but other times, they trigger impulses of anger, hopelessness, or worry—essentially fear-based feelings.

I am a sensitive person—so, for me, the sensations generated by the intersection between the head and the heart surge through my body creating visceral reactions. From the outside, it looks like a girl walking on the beach, but on the inside, there’s a clinch in my gut, chills on my skin, or tension in my jaw. Thoughts manifest in our bodies all day long.

Thankfully, I stumbled upon a quote by Neal Donald Walsh: “Negative feelings are not true feelings at all; rather, they are thoughts about something, based always on a previous experience of yourself and others.”

Upon reading this, I immediately remembered a mantra I used to recite to safeguard present experiences: the past has no power over the present. Our past can either be our baggage or our wisdom, but not both. The choice is ours. The moment a thought leads to a negative feeling, we are in a space of empowerment and decisiveness.

We can choose the destiny of the thought. It is not as complicated as it may sound. Awareness is a priceless tool, and it is through awareness that we manage moments. It may look something like this:

Stage 1: Thought—I can’t believe I forgot to attach the essential file in the email I sent to my boss.
Stage 2: Negative Feeling—I am an idiot.
Stage 3: Rummage through past experience associated with negative feeling—locate the association. I did the same thing three years ago at my previous job, and my critical boss called me an idiot.
Stage 4: Decide if the past has power of the present. What my former boss called me does not define me. People make mistakes. In this moment, I choose to attach the essential file in a new email to my present boss.
Step 5: Generate a new thought—I did what I needed to do. All is well.

I find this method helps keep moments of contemplation honest. Negative feelings are not bad; they are opportunities to sharpen our awareness and keen ability to find the truth inside the thought that created them.



Author: Kristen Schneider
Image: Author’s own
Editor: Travis May
Copy Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Social Editor: Callie Rushton

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Kristen Schneider