I subscribe to a website called "The Daily OM". Every day I receive an inspirational message from them, and every once in a while I receive one that is truly exceptional. Today I received one of those, and I would like to share it with you. The title of this particular message is "Relating to the Negative: The Danger of Repression". Out of respect for copyright, the link for the full message is here.
It opens this way:
"For the last several years, there has been a lot of focus on the power of positive thinking. Many people have come to misinterpret this wisdom to mean that it is not okay to have a bad mood or a negative thought or feeling."
This is more or less the way I was raised, that it's better to be positive, and of course, that IS a good thing. However, I interpreted it to mean that I should never get angry, never be negative, and never express my negativity, especially if it would make someone else feel bad. That is NOT a good thing; it wasn't then, and it isn't now. Unfortunately, a lot of people try to live this way.
What I believe, and what this message tells me, is that it's okay (REALLY okay!) to have negative feelings and bad days, to feel anger, sadness, and all that stuff that so many of us are taught is wrong or dangerous to have in our lives. Without the negative, we would never know what it is to feel happiness or positive feelings, because we would always feel the same. Where's the fun in that???
A case in point: I just got back this last Monday from the latest crisis at my mom's. She had fallen out of bed and had to go the hospital for stitches in her leg. I was there for basically six days. I also have a new position at work, and it's causing me a fair amount of stress as I try to learn it and DO it at the same time. Last night, I did laundry, and while drying I discovered that I was missing one of my favorite socks (bright green with black skull-and-crossbones all over them). I had worn them at my mom's, so I knew I had put both in the wash. I went through every single wet piece of clothing, shaking them and peering into them to make sure the sock wasn't stuck inside something. Then I came totally unglued, sobbing and screaming -- I even smacked the wall! Poor Martin went outside to the laundry room twice, checking to see if I had dropped it in there or on the way. (We have a dryer, but not a washer, so we use the complex laundry for washing, then take our clothes home to dry.) How embarrassing when I discovered the sock in the dryer the third time I checked it! I could NOT believe that I had fallen apart like that over a SOCK!
But the fact is that, after expressing my negativity in that way, I actually felt better. It wasn't really the missing sock that upset me, it was the built-up tension and fear from dealing with my mom's accident, and the built-up stress of my new job, and the fact that I had to be strong and in control for both. I needed to be able to express my anger and frustration so that I could release the darkness and continue to function in an appropriate way.
We need our negative feelings and thoughts, our bad moods and our anger, and we need the ability to express them in ways that release the garbage they produce from our souls. Otherwise, we become like capped volcanoes, with the negativity building up inside us until, like Vesuvius, it explodes with such a vengeance that it buries us alive.