I have always taken pride in calling myself an eternal optimist.
I am still an optimist but my stand at always looking towards the positive side has changed.
And may I add, it has not only changed but has drastically changed to something I had never earlier thought about.
I believe life is a 50-50 mix of positive and negative events.
Quite like the day and night.
Though, I would sometimes freak out at the idea that how could we survive if pain, hurt, anger, fear, frustration, death, suffering and despair would make up half of our lifetime.
But we do. Survive.
That’s because is all a mental construct.
It depends on what you interpret as a negative experience.
Because there are definitely a number of experiences that qualify to be in the grey area. Indifference, apathy, boredom, just to name a few.
It depends upon our perspective towards life in general.
And if you too believe in the 50-50 equation, let me tell you that it can also be quite relieving to realise that since the negativity is part and parcel of our human life, we can actually be at peace with it.
Or at least assume that to be a possibility, to begin with.
Though the truth of the matter is, until recently, I have been guilty of trying to be indifferent towards the very existence of negativity.
I’d think of it as something that the pessimists created. Like spun out of their imagination that eventually translated into their actions.
Something that existed beyond my bubble of eternal optimism.
But life doesn’t function that way.
And when I was pushed to reconsider my beliefs I got curious to explore what would happen if I stepped out of my bubble of positivity and decided to accept the negativity in my life, in its entirety.
Would doing so overwhelm me or set me free?
In a disturbing phase of my life, when I believed I had nothing to lose, I went ahead and made peace with my negative emotions. I chose to accept them. I decided to feel them in their true, raw form.
The feeling of disturbingly unpleasant to begin with.
I was white-knuckling all through the experience trying hard to resist reacting. Quite what I do day in and day out like a knee jerk.
Since I had made up my mind, I went ahead and bargained acceptance for freedom.
Freedom from the need to always feel positive all of the time.
Freedom from the need to be happy or to be chasing the elusive happiness in everything I did.
And guess what, doing so opened for me the possibility of approaching my relationship with the negative emotions in a much more positive way.
Yup, sounds confusing, perhaps paradoxical too.
But that’s exactly how it happened.
Looking back, I can safely say that it really doesn’t make any sense to turn our backs away from the negative emotions if they are going to exist and be a part of our life anyway.
This was when my outlook towards my anger, fear and despair shifted. A little at a time.
Gradually but surely.
It felt great to realise that sadness coexists with happiness, so I need not feel pressured to be HAPPY all the time.
I am okay to be feeling sad and disappointed at times.
It is perfectly fine to be angry and to feel it fill my system just like I allow happiness to wash over me.
The feeling is quite like watching the clouds fill up the room you’re sitting in and all the while you’re hoping to be drenched, you just feel the dampness but there’s no visible rain.
In the same way, sitting tight, fully aware of the hurt, anger or despair fill me up, it did provoke me to react but when I chose to stay put, I felt bruised without a punch, stressed out but no REAL harm was done.
It somehow took away the power I had given to the negative emotions.
I no longer spend hours worrying about my anger and finding ways to get rid of it from my life.
I no longer fret the idea that because I feel despair, anger and pain, I must be broken.
Unlike what the social media constantly presents to us the forever happy, perfect images of the people, it is NORMAL to be celebrating life even when it serves us unhappiness.
Simply because it is part of the deal.
This is exactly where my old self walks in.
Earlier I was constantly working against the tide to see the positive in everything that happened to me and in every emotion I felt.
While battling depression and anxiety, this desire to be always looking for the positive, trying to pep me up often turned into an energy-depleting exercise which would often leave me feeling lost and more miserable.
And despite my constant battle against the negative emotions, I would never feel happy in being the optimist I proudly called myself.
I tried it again a few days later when I was left with no choice but to do what I had tried once before.
To exist in the presence of negative emotions and watch my mind play with it like a new toy.
That fateful day, I did nothing.
Didn’t speak a word.
Didn’t grab my journal,
Didn’t turn to food, and
Didn’t even try to distract me with happy thoughts or affirmations.
Didn’t pick up my phone or the TV remote.
I just coexisted with negative emotions.
And guess what, I survived. Again.
After a while, those emotions floated away quite like the clouds surfing the sky.
It felt tough at the moment, but I realised that just like happiness wears off, sadness does too.
It is just a matter of being willing to experience negativity with acceptance.
Accepting negative emotions can help lessen their weight.
Getting mad at myself for worrying or telling myself to stop worrying only adds fuel to the negativity fire.
Of being willing to experience the negative emotions without resisting or attempting to change how I’m feeling.
It does get easier with every time you do this.
Quite like strength training.
The first time you lift a weight, the shoulders and the arms hurt. Badly.
But with each repetition, over time, it gets easier and easier.
The weight is still the same, but with practice, we develop endurance.
That’s exactly what I have been doing with my will power.
I am slowly building up the muscle of my patience.
I have been training myself to live through my hurt and anger (the two emotions that have caused havoc in my life for the longest time) with acceptance.
I no longer try to cushion these with affirmations or distractions.
I just co-exist with them.
And guess what the reward has been?
“The best way is not to fight it, just go. Don’t be trying all the time to fix things. What you run from only stays with you longer. When you fight something, you only make it stronger.”
I have begun to see where exactly these negative emotions stem from.
I am more aware of who I am in the core and I am now at work in building myself up, despite the negativity that is an inseparable part of my existence.
I am no longer spending my energy fighting back the negativity that I really can’t wipeout of my life.
Instead of fighting it, railing against what I don’t want to be a part of my life, I am now channelling all my energy towards creating the life I want for myself.
Being accepting of the hurt, the pain is allowing me to change, to grow because now I’m more willing to pay attention to what is bothering me.
I’m no longer busy running away from these feelings.
This is my chance at learning to be more accepting of my life and myself in its entirety. To be willing to live every moment as it comes, willingly.
And I am not letting this chance slip past.
I am ready to live it with acceptance, compassion and open-mindedness.
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The song on my mind: Katra katra milti hai ~Ijazat