How Negative Do You Want To Be?

Just how much is necessary?

As the research on positivity continues to unfold enormously empowering results and indications for breaking new territory in health and education, so too has a kind of backlash wanting to protect this sanctity of negativity.

Many would say that negativity is necessary.  It sustains billion dollar industries of “fixing,” punishing, and correcting many. 

Some even fear getting “too happy or too positive” or think that you are too much on the road to resolution or something you have missed might come back to bite you. 

We have heard so much about karma.  One would think that we are tired enough of the notion that karma is always following us around, ready to get us back when we least expect it.

Ying and yang is far over-rated.  Opposites may attract but they don’t last.  82% of the longest relationships, highest in life satisfaction and well-being, are “strengths similar.”  How much suffering do you need to REALLY feel joy?  How much misery do you need to write a sexy, loving, and romantic novel of real and simple love? 

Love is love and we don’t have to be miserable to know the real thing when it comes.  Joy is joy and it is an intrinsic part of the nature of how we are created; it is a state of mind that exists within us, not dependent upon how much suffering we have experienced.

We are a co-dependent, “fixing” society because we have grown up and evolved from cultures of “fixing” problems and “watching out for the tiger or the devil.”  We have evolved from the limbic brain of “fight-flight.” 

But what we have not taken nearly as much into account, in all our fixing and healing, is that the brain has evolved for millions of years in a structure the also has a “calm and connect” response that works altogether differently.  It feeds on positivity, it enlarges and expands and passes over and through all kinds of negativity by taking a higher road of behaving differently in the brain.

But really, a more basic question has to be asked.  How much negativity do you want?  If it is necessary, and it is appropriate to some situations, how much do you want?  How much negativity do you believe is necessary in your life to “think critically” as opposed to finding out what you’re real strengths are and using them positively?  How much suffering do you want?  How much do you believe you should suffer when someone dies?  How much do you want to suffer if you lose your house? How much negativity do you think serves the situation when life deals you a blow that is unexpected?

I am sure that you are thinking about all of those negative situations in your life that you had to go through in order to learn.   I had to go through several of them, not because negativity was such a good thing but because I was “thick”. 

How much daily negativity and aggravation is necessary with a difficult situation?  What serves you?  How much do you need, do you think?   How much serves you well?

Instead of treating emotions simply as though they are “given,” consider this.  You have much more control of your emotions, their occurrence, their amount, and their duration than you are probably willing to admit.  Your emotions don’t simply trigger themselves to a certain point absent of your cooperation with them. What is much more true about feelings is that we aren’t nearly so good about feeling them.  We talk about feelings and we throw around ideas and thoughts about feelings, but we don’t really feel them.  

Feeling negative feelings gives us a better indication of how we wanted them to hang around.  Instead we talk about “why” we feel what we think we feel.  We talk about who or what is to blame.   

Feel your negative feelings and decide how long you want to stay in them especially when more positive feelings, over which you have great control, offer the creative ways to the solutions that open new doors and move your life along.

Any time you say, I feel “that” I am sad, know that anything that follows the word “that” after the word “feel” is not a feeling, it’s a judgment and you are in your intellectualizing thoughts, not your feelings.  Feelings are simple, when they are genuinely felt.  Feelings are a single word, or a simile, or a metaphor; they are not long discourses and stories about what is upsetting you.   When you start feeling your negative feelings, decide how much of them you want and how long you want to have them.  Do they serve you?  How?  How much and for how long?

One more question.  When resolution of an issue comes, when there is a solution and path to take, a next right step, does that come from the negative emotion or does it come when you get the negatives out of the way?

About the author

Dr. William K. Larkin

Copyright © 2015 The Applied Neuroscience Institute