Day 6 of 30 Days of Imperfection
First, apologies to those who might have received “auto drafts” from me in their Twitter feeds or on their Facebook pages. Not sure what happened, but apparently WordPress freaked out when I tried to schedule the last post. I guess WordPress is practicing being imperfect as well! I don’t judge you WordPress!
Just saw two posts on my Facebook news feed that were mirror opposites of each other. One was from a spiritual practitioner who is taking a few days to have a “negative thought fast” and trying to go without thinking negatively until 12/12/12 (that’s 2 days without a negative thought. Care to try it?)
The other post was from a friend who had apparently had a crappy day, and it is her birthday. She was obviously upset and disappointed. Side by side, these two posts seemed to mirror each other. If only the spiritual practitioner could’ve looked down from her Facebook profile picture and offered some soothing words to my friend.
But, sometimes we need to express our negative thoughts. We want someone to notice and soothe us. Or they just bubble up inside and have to come out somewhere.
(The question of whether thoughts can even have attributes like positive or negative is a topic of debate; I’m not having that debate here.)
I’ve found that the key to managing “negative” thoughts is not giving them too much power. Choosing to refrain from letting those thoughts drive me; or if they do get into the driver’s seat, not letting them stay there for too long.
It’s less about not having them, and more about what I choose to do with them when they show up. We seem to receive the message that thoughts such as anger, sadness, frustration or jealousy are something we should somehow be able to rid ourselves of. As if we could put a loofa into our brains and just scrub them out.
OK, I’m going to fly my nerd flag for a moment:
Remember the worst Star Trek movie ever, “The Final Frontier” where Kirk and company go in search of God? I think it’s commonly thought of as a pretty awful film (although there are a few funny bits) but there was one scene in particular that has stuck with me.
Spock’s brother Sybok is a guru trying to take everyone’s pain away. But when he comes to Kirk, Kirk refuses saying:
“…you know that pain and guilt can’t be taken away with a magic wand. They’re the things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are.”
That’s always stuck with me. Although pain, guilt, fear, sadness and anger are not ALL that make us who we are, they are strong emotions that are a part of the complexity of being human. We cannot truly feel deep joy until we have felt deep sadness, for example.
So, I am always wary of the notion that we can somehow wave a magic wand and do away with our negative thoughts and feelings. That said, it is how we manage them that can make all the difference.
I’m curious to try this notion of going without negative thinking for a few days, but rather than trying to not have a negative thought (which is, frankly, impossible) I will instead notice my negative thinking with compassion for myself and remember that I get to choose my thoughts and what I do with them.
Perhaps, like Kirk, I will find that I need my pain in that moment. If so, I will let myself feel it. If not, I will breathe deeply and choose another thought. One that supports me and allows me to move forward instead of staying stuck.
Will you boldly trek with me?