I have been struggling between the idea that you should not resist any thoughts and feelings that come up and directing my thoughts in a more positive direction.
One way of thought says thoughts are transient. They are not positive or negative. Welcome all thoughts and feelings. The resistance to these feelings is what produces suffering. I can see this way of thought. And have moved towards accepting everything that arises in body, mind and emotions.
I listen to my feelings. I hear my thoughts, but no longer believe everything they say is true. I have noticed often they are rehashing the past or being fearful of the future.
At the same time, I have a family history of depression and anxiety. I see when I let all the thoughts hang out I can get stuck in the fear or sadness. How do I accept all the thoughts and feelings without falling into the dark? And how do I think more positively without hiding from the pain and negativity (sometimes called spiritual bypassing).
It’s not that the darker thoughts are wrong, but they are not as helpful to me because I do get stuck. It’s hard to move forward with goals when you only see what will go wrong. It’s hard to sing in public when you are so filled with anxiety you want to get sick. It’s hard to go into social gatherings worried about the interactions.
I have created a morning practice that helps me see more positively because most of us naturally look for the negatives and downsides. In the mornings after exercise, prayer and meditation I begin writing.
- I write out my gratitudes. Not just the three or five things often touted in self-help books. I write 1-3 paragraphs of appreciation and gratitude.
- I write at least one thing I am looking forward to today. If I don’t have anything, I plan something. It can be as small as reading a chapter in a novel, drinking hot cocoa wrapped in a blanket. Or Facebook chatting one of my friends.
- I think of how I want to feel today: Serene, appreciative, radiant, connected, joyful, loving, patient, kind, giving. I pick 1-2 to concentrate on throughout the day.
- I look over my weekly goals and write out my intentions – what I want to do, why I want to do them, how I want to be doing them. “I intend to edit my book with clarity and love.” I connect with how my goals will serve others.
- I remember we are all connected.
- I play with another prompt or two. Like I appreciate… I love…I am at peace with…I surrender…Wouldn’t it be nice if…I want…I desire…I choose…I am excited about…here are some good feeling thoughts…I am…I wish…My soul says…My heart wants…I accept… These prompts help me tap into inner wisdom.
I bring my notebook that holds these writings to peek at throughout the day. Even reading one line can change my energy from a downward spiral. Plus the more I look for the good, the more I see the good naturally.
I can feel all my feelings. And I actually have practices to do that as well. But, afterwards I like to bring myself back to gratitude, appreciation and possibility. This is where my energy and optimism dwell.