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  • Resilient Practice

How to Harness the Negative

It is well recognised that what we focus on and give our energy to gets bigger. If we want to feel happy then we need to think happy thoughts, right?

Social Media is full of blogs telling us that “it is ok to not be ok” and we have avoided sharing them because the message does not gel with what we teach. Our overriding message is that we are all capable of choosing how we feel via what we think, and we can absolutely choose what thoughts we focus on and give emotional weight to. We know from our experience and research that it is possible to reframe negative core beliefs with positive mantras, so in fact, we are essentially teaching that it is possible to ‘think yourself happy.’

Research into positivity does confirm this, however, we recently saw an Instagram blog entitled “toxic positivity” and it really made us stop and think.

Is there such a thing as too much positivity?

How much value is there in negative events?

We have said many times before that if we ignore all negative situations, we miss out on the lessons that they are there to teach us. In fact, we have encouraged our readers to foster gratitude for all situations including adversity.

Have you ever noticed that, when something bad happens, we notice things that remind us of it every way we turn? At its worst this becomes PTSD, flashbacks to distressing events. This is the psyche’s way of saying: “Excuse me you haven’t processed this, there is work to be done here.”

Until we engage in that work, these events will continue to haunt us. We have looked at how to deal with past trauma in a previous article.

In life, it is common for us to try to avoid negativity. We say to children “be brave, don’t cry.”

Why would we instruct someone to suppress an expression of sadness?

When something hurts it is ok to cry. When something frightening happens it is ok to be afraid or scared.

When something upsets or unnerves us we often see it as a good thing to ‘soldier on’ putting our ’best foot forward’ with a “stiff upper lip.”

Maybe we should say it is ok to feel sad, angry, hurt or afraid, just as it is ok to feel happy and safe. Those emotions are body experiences and they exist for a reason.

When something hurts us physically or emotionally, we are conditioned to try to ignore it and pretend it has not happened. We are often encouraged to bottle it up, so we do not disturb the peace or cause discomfort to those around us or those who care for us.

Maybe we should be encouraged to acknowledge our pain.

If we deny or ignore our feelings and pretend that they are something else, then we are not giving ourselves time to process what has happened. As we have said many times, we need to accept and foster gratitude for everything that happens acknowledging the bad times as well as the good.

A grateful mindset attracts abundance.

The key is to take how we feel, acknowledge it, learn what we can from it and then if appropriate reframe it. That way, we gratefully accept the lesson offered, we process the event fully and we focus on how to use it to make ourselves stronger and more resilient, moving forwards in an authentically positive way.

Try this:

This week we share another reframing tool which encourages acceptance and incorporates the value of negative experiences in an authentically positive way.

Think about the things that we think and say to ourselves and others that could be described as ‘forced positivity.’ For example:

“Don’t be scared,” or “be brave”

“Think positively”

“Just ignore it”

“It could be worse”

“Never mind”

“Cheer up”

“Give it a rub”

“Be strong, you’ve got people depending on you”

“Man up!”

“Keep smiling”

“Try to see it as a good thing”

”It’s a blessing in disguise”

“When one door closes, another one opens”

Although these examples are positively worded, as discussed above, they do not give the recipient, time for processing and also lead to feelings of being dismissed or unheard.

When speaking to others try these instead:

“Is this scary for you? It is good to talk about what makes us afraid because once we do, that fear loses its power over us.”

“What are the positives in what has happened? How might you move forwards from here?

“What is the truth in this situation?

“This is a difficult situation for you what do you need to get through it?”

“What have you learned here?”

“Are you disappointed? What will you do differently next time?

“Everyone feels down sometimes. What do you enjoy doing?”

“Are you in pain? What do you need to make it feel better?

“You are not alone. What help do you need?”

When speaking to yourself try:

“That made me feel frightened. What do I need to feel safe in this situation?”

“What are the positives here for me?”

“What is the truth in this situation?”

“What have I learned here?”

“Things are bad. What do I need to get through this?”

“I am really disappointed. What can I do to next time to get a better outcome?”

“I feel down. What do I enjoy?”

“Ow that really hurt. What will make me feel better?”

“I am human. What resources do I have to help me?”

Notice that the reframing changes statements to questions. Questions help shift the mindset to one of acknowledgement and solutions. Try this when both speaking to others and especially speaking to the Self.


For an in-depth look at the psyche and over 60 tools and techniques to help you manifest the best possible outcome in any situation:

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