Age-old, and New Age, wisdom tells us that you get what you focus on. It’s practically common knowledge that the more positive you are, the higher your vibrational frequency, and the greater positive energy you attract into your life. The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne, popularized this theory.
With all the emphasis on deliberately being positive and happy, what is one to do if simply and genuinely feeling, well, crappy?
How can we be authentic with ourselves and also keep ourselves positively charged magnets for life’s gifts?
How does one do one’s best to stay positive if life has delivered heartbreak or despair from loss of a pet, parent, or marriage? Perhaps one just biologically runs sad. What does one do then?
What not to do.
Don’t invite the critic, your own inner bully, to the party. In other words, don’t criticize yourself for not being positive or feeling good. This well-intended, mean-spirited way of self-maneuvering back onto a better path usually increases and prolongs suffering.
What probably not to do.
You can try to throw a positive thought on top of the feelings of grief or fear. If that works, wonderful. It usually does not; it is unconvincing, feels false, invalidating and impossible — like trying to get where you wish by jumping seven feet in the air.
What to do.
Take one simple step. Trying to leap from A to Z — i.e. directly from sorrow to a sunny outlook — is the “positive thinking” message misconstrued. Instead, take a micro-step in the right direction.
This step is turning towards oneself with some kindness, compassion, and the intent to soothe. This positive, loving action already raises the vibration, which is what we’re after.
First, throw a gentle arm (metaphorically, unless you are a contortionist) around your own shoulder and be friendly towards yourself. Be on your own side. Notice if you are attacking yourself — telling yourself you should not feel this way or that — and, without judging your judging, stop.
The feelings are what need your attention, and they must be loosened from the grip of the narrative in order to shift.
Second, acknowledge how you feel. Spend a bit of time just with the feelings — not arguing for, explaining, or justifying them, only acknowledging what they are — sad, disappointed, afraid, etc. The feelings are what need your attention, and they must be loosened from the grip of the narrative in order to shift. Recognize what is going on: I’m having a hard time right now. I’m struggling right now, I feel sad. What is wants our attention. By being with what is, you begin to resolve it. Attending to and acknowledging a feeling is different than falling into or empowering it. In fact, finding your way to keep company with a difficult feeling is the way towards “right sizing” it and making the necessary space for it to heal.
Third, set down the narrative altogether for a bit. Talking through what has affected you is important, but if you find you are repeating yourself without providing any therapeutic benefit to you or your audience, you are likely serving more of a compulsion or habit and binding yourself to your negative story. See Coleridge’s The Rime of The Ancient Mariner.
Inner friendliness is always the way forward, towards higher vibration and feeling better.