I’ve always maintained, and probably will until the day I die, that allowing ourselves to remain in a negative frame of mind is a choice. Sadly it’s a choice from which many – myself included, I am in no way innocent of this fault – prefer to abrogate responsibility. Also, unfortunately, it’s even harder to resist allowing ourselves to fall into the negativity trap when we have a highly developed sense of empathy – particularly with people who are important to you, are family members or are people you love.
Unless we go through life in the bubble, things are going to touch us, and provoke emotional responses to situations and words which are not always going to be the kind that have us jumping for joy at the very thought of such things. No. Life is all about contrasts, and often we must experiences the poles of an emotion in order to fully understand. There’s a saying. It’s a quote from something, and unfortunately I can’t remember where the quote comes from in order to acknowledge the source. It says, “Even the act of lighting a candle casts a shadow,” expressing the truth that there can be no light without darkness, no good without bad, no joy without sorrow. Yes… it is perfectly all right to feel the full spectrum of emotions; healthy, even.
What is most definitely not healthy is dwelling in that ‘shadow.’ Letting it linger, indeed holding on to negativity, be that anger, hurt, disappointment… whatever it is that something has brought to our lives. I’m not advocating ignoring such feelings either, that’s equally as unhealthy. Surely the thing to do is to acknowledge the cause and effect – the feeling – experience it, embrace it, own it… and then let it pass on. Learn from the experience just what it is that makes us tick. Sometimes in finding out those things, we’re afforded the ability to change responses that may have been learned through the course of our life experiences and may be detrimental to our emotional and spiritual health. This becomes impossible and we get locked into harmful patterns if we just dwell in the shadow, live in the past and embrace only the negativity.
Let’s face it, what do we gain from hanging on to such things… from returning over and over again to what has annoyed/disappointed/scared/damaged us? Only a repeat – an echo of the emotion; only more hurt, both to us – because we feel again what we had felt before – and to those around us, whom our behaviour and demeanor affects, often with a harmful result, thus creating a spiral of negativity that hurts all involved, for a shadow tends to deepen and darken the more it is reflected in upon itself.
So how do we, as intelligent, thinking and feeling animals avoid sinking into the negativity around us on a daily basis, and allowing it to control us? Because control us it does. How do we, in the words of an annoyingly catchy little Disney song, ‘Let it go’ – and by that I mean truly, not to just let it pass for the moment only to return at some, as yet, unknown time in the near or far distant future?
It is by no means easy.
It takes continual effort and constant vigilance, and a good dose of self control, but most of all it takes – unsurprisingly – support mechanisms. Maybe, like Arya Stark in Game of Thrones, who can’t sleep until she’s named all of those people she intends to kill, we need to have a ‘naming of names’ ritual of some kind in order to lay our emotions to rest. Feel the emotion, name it, aloud if necessary, and then release it into the universe. Once the emotion has been released, wwe can then look at the effects that it’s had on us and figure out why. It also helps if we have someone who understands us, who can be supportive. Many of us are lucky enough to have such a person – loved one, friend, family member; a trusted person to whom we can talk during the general course of the day, and in times of need, someone who won’t judge, take sides, or impose their own feelings – empathic or otherwise – onto us.
It also helps if we can be ‘objective’ which is notoriously difficult in respect of emotion, ours or anyone else’s (especially as an empath), and I would go so far as to say that anyone who tells us they can, is probably not being entirely truthful, with us or with themselves. That’s a judgement statement but an honest one. Even saints and angels feel. We can only be objective but so far, before our own emotional responses kick in whether we want them to or not… so perhaps a better expectation is to be able to view things from a place of peace… and to do that, we need to have let go of the emotion – another wonderful circle/spiral for us to navigate.
Nicholas Black Elk (1863 – 1950) is quoted to have said, ‘…everything the power of the world does is done in a circle. It’s worth remembering, that we, our place in the world, and our emotions in place within us as a part of the world and the universe, are circular, and cyclical too. It brings a strange kind of comfort and perspective when trying to deal with times of emotional intensity when we can think that way.
Of course knowing what we should do, and doing those things, are two different matters entirely. I’m notoriously bad at it myself, and I acknowledge that. I bottle and I brood… and then I ‘leak,’ and I must confess that my bucket is particularly leaky right around now. As I sit here, reading this back getting ready to post it, I realise that there are a few people out there that might well read this, and think, ‘She’s posted this because of me,’ or ‘Hey, this is about me,’ and either feel hurt, offended or maybe even flattered. Such thoughts, born of ego, are in error, and any feelings that come of such thoughts are a matter for the reader’s conscience alone. ‘Not my circus, not my monkeys,’ as the saying goes.
This post, and my associated feelings have been born – as I recently remarked to at least two people who come to mind – of a struggle of over ten years; ten years in which, for survival sake, I felt I had to adopt a ‘glass half full’ position in a world where everyone presented a ‘glass half empty.’ Now that I’ve finally got around to writing this, and it’s taken a couple of weeks; now that I find myself so damn tired because of that fight, I realise that the error was mine, that I should have simply surrounded myself in the white light of Universal Peace and accepted that the glass simply is.