Being aware of only the bright side of events allows the side not looked at to increase its presence, for it is only when we look at the whole of things, that we receive the blessing of ALL of it. I think this is one of the reasons Jesus taught us to resist not.
And who is the one that gets to decide which is the bright side and which is the side that should be ignored? Mark Nepo, internationally known author and workshop presenter, has groups that he leads sit in a circle to physically represent that we all have a different view of the center, because every view is part of the whole.
So, when we are used to only seeing part, there is a part that also needs our attention. The side not looked at is still part of the whole. The side not looked at may contain feelings that the world has deemed “negative”, and best left alone. However, the not looking and therefore not experiencing does not make feelings go away. They can become a magnet to attract other feelings that are not allowed the blessing of the light of day.
The point of this article is that I am asking you to start looking at the whole picture and not just the proverbial “bright side”. We humans, especially in the U.S. have been taught that we can’t really deal with negative emotions or for that matter, negative or challenging events. This puts us in dire straits, however, because the very nature of life is about change and loss. Change and loss are now seen as “negative events” that we have been taught to not deal with and change and loss create the so-called “negative emotions”. Fear, sadness and anger are not “negative emotions”. They are simply internal messages that result when we are faced with events that stimulate these emotions. For example, the natural response to loss is sadness. The natural response to big changes is fear. The natural response to our boundaries being invaded is anger.
However, we have learned to not acknowledge these feelings and so we stuff them into the shadow of our consciousness. The feelings would actually help us work through the loss by enabling us to know what our response is to any change or loss. By being aware of the feeling, we can look clearly at the loss or change and know how to proceed. For example, if someone loses their job, they would naturally have feelings of fear, sadness and anger. Lets look at the feeling of fear and how by looking at it, they can process the loss and thereby move forward to an even better job. The feeling of fear is natural. When we are faced with a big loss, like the loss of a job, fear will come up. The fear may tell us that we will never find another job. This loss may remind us of another time we lost a job. If we look at the fear and then thought that it is connected to: “ I may never find another job”, we can look back and see that though we were afraid in the past, we did in fact find that better job. If we choose to ignore the fear, the thought, “I will never find another job”, will be lurking in our subconscious and it will, in fact, be harder to find another job. By looking at the fear that then lets us see the thought it is connected to, we can begin to ease the fear by looking at the facts that though we were afraid in the past, we did in fact find the job that may have been even better.
If a person chooses to ignore the fear and just “ look on the bright side”, which really means ignore all “negative feelings”, they are closing the door to really dealing with the loss in such a way that they will become stronger as a result of finding the courage to deal with the loss.
Another challenge with the tendency to not look at any “negative feelings”, but only the Happy ones is this: we all have anger. If we become willing to process our anger rather than stuff it, we can, once again, examine any negative thoughts about ourselves or others that are triggered when the feeling of anger comes up. It can be this easy to deal with “anger issues”. However, what often happens is people are sent to “anger management”-classes that teach all sorts of strategies to manage the anger. My suggestion is to look at what is underneath the anger, heal any trauma or abuse-experiences we had around anger and then when anger is triggered in the present day, we are able to deal with this in the present rather than have the past issues magnify the current issue that is triggering anger.
Though this is a very brief article on anger, and I would love to invite you to my EQ (emotional intelligence) weekend, this article should stimulate your willingness to start looking at the whole picture rather than just the “Bright Side”. Otherwise, if we don’t learn to look at the whole picture, we may wind up like the actor in the movie, MONTY PYTHON, in which the actor keeps singing the song, ALWAYS LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE OF LIFE, as each of his 4 limbs are cut off one by one. He is left with just his head and torso and keeps singing and I say, There is another way. It takes a lot of courage to look at the whole picture and to feel our feelings but the results are immensely more rewarding for you in every area of your life. Plus, your friends, family, co-workers and even strangers will be drawn to you because you have decided to simply listen to their challenges rather than to admonish them for not looking on the bright side.
I better stop writing for now……………J