Recently one of my clients asked me how to stay positive more often and tune out negativity.
I found this question very interesting, even though it isn’t the first time I’ve heard someone including myself, ask this. That’s because it’s the kind of question always provides some good food for thought.
Here’s what I think about it, and what I shared with her during the course of our conversation.
There is no tuning out negativity as it is a natural phenomenon in this universe that we belong to, just as everything related to the ebb and flow of life. However much we try to keep it out, by distancing ourselves from undesirable situations, people or experiences, as with the occurrences of day and night, rise and fall of waves, it will arise. As it arises, it shall fall away as well.
Trying to shut negativity out will only cause us stress and frustration – stress at the effort it takes and frustration at not being able to prevent it from touching our experiences.
How shall one then remain calm and harmoniously go about life?
Attaching meaning to experiences
Usually, we are quick to judge an experience as positive or negative. That’s the conditioning we have since birth. The same conditioning also leads us to associate suffering or pleasure with that experience, and even exaggerate that association and make the whole experience snowball into something unmanageable.
However, what if we develop alternative perspectives? How about making an intention of viewing experiences with more equanimity over time and even see what one can learn from experience – good or bad? What if we don’t give such divisive labels as good or bad, and treat them as just occurrences that come and go, and that it is in our best interest not to be swayed into extremes of distress and celebration every time? You may find my previous article helpful in this context.
Notice what is triggered
When something strikes you as good or bad, notice the surge of emotions and associated sensations in your body. Reflect on why the particular incident triggers an emotion within you. Is there learning or realization that’s coming through?
For example, when someone says something that triggers you, it could be a suggestion or feedback given without much thought to the choice of words or the tone of voice, it is understandable that it may strike you as unpleasant.
However what is over time and several occurrences, you can practice taking a pause between the trigger and your response, give a more equanimous response than you would have given previously and then later, at your time and pace, see what lessons emerge from that experience including the original feedback – was there something in there that could have stoked your insecurity or an existing emotional wound and if that is the reason the current experience triggered you so much, and if so what can be done to heal that wound and develop harmony?
Tools to help you
Practises such as meditation and journaling are shown to improve our mindfulness and equanimity in everyday situations and help us stay calmer and tap into our inner wisdom.
Nowadays there are quite a few meditation apps that offer short, guided meditations for free. That’s a great way to get started on developing a meditation practice. As your practice deepens, you could consider enrolling into a meditation course as well.
Journaling at the end of the beginning of a day, or being conscious of moments, people, situations and resources in your life that support and nurture you, and bring a smile to your face, or simply bring ease to your life is a great way to lift one’s spirits. The more often you’re conscious of that during the day, the more often you’re happier in the course of a day. How about trying that on for size?
As with anything worthwhile in life, awareness and practice of lessons and techniques learned will bring about subtle but lasting shifts in our life, starting from day 1. Today is a good day to start, now is a good moment to start.
I wish you a satisfying journey into self-exploration and harmony ahead.