You Have the Right to Be Negative

Hi, I'm George!

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There’s nothing more irritating than being in the midst of chaos and despair and have some airy-fairy, bushy-eyed person tell you to see things in a positive way. Over the past few days I’ve gone through some murky situations and unfortunate experiences that brought up a lot of negative emotion within me. All that I wanted to do was scream, get angry, and be in blissful state of despair. All that everybody else wanted me to do was smile, breathe, and see things in a positive way.

Ironically, I am usually the all-positive Pollyanna when other people go through tough situations, and it’s only recently that I came to realize that, “It is OK to be negative!”

Don’t Over-Spiritualize

When you’ve been on a spiritual path for quite some time you get used to the everlasting positivity of your life, and a glimpse of negative emotion feels like the world is coming to an end. As a result, when something goes wrong in your life, you over-spiritualize – that is, you hide away from the negativity through positive affirmations, meditate with no purpose, and you generally, distract yourself from the situation. In other words, you choose to be in a state of denial because you are scared of messing up your alignment.

After all, you are the cheerful guy (or gal) everybody comes to for an instant dose of happiness when they are feeling helpless. You are the one who meditates, prays, talks to the angels, hangs out with the fairies, and has post-its of inspiring quotes all around his house – how can you possibly be even able to feel negative emotion!?

You Are Human

Paradoxically, over-spiritualization is the work of the ego counting on the years of spiritual practice you have to “protect” you from negative emotion. What you (and I) need to realize is that there is nothing you need to protect yourself from. Any form of negative emotion is simply a natural and acceptable part of being human. If your life was happy 24/7 you really wouldn’t be able to savour happiness in its entirety. In other words, food tastes better when you’ve been hungry for a while, and a job-well-done feels so much better after you’ve gone through a challenge or two.

In the same way, going through negative emotions allows you to savour the breakthrough of transitioning towards a more positive emotion. Spirituality has nothing to do with being in a constant state of pure happiness. On the other hand, spirituality is about choosing love over fear, therefore, experiencing the fear (negative emotion) and then being willing to transcend it into love (positive emotion). Negative emotions challenge you to see life from a different perspective, and help you give birth to new and improved desires. It is your ability to make something positive out of negativity that defines how spiritual you are, rather than how long you manage to sustain positive emotion.

Talk to Me

Ask yourself: How have I denied myself the expression of negative emotion?

Spend some time pondering on this question. Your ego will try and cover up anything that comes up, but be honest with yourself. Anything that comes in your mind after you state the question is true.

Share your findings in the comments below.

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