I love a good positive affirmation – don’t get me wrong. I share quotes that inspire all the time, hey I even try to make up my own ‘quotable quotes’ like I’m some sort of philosopher or wise woman. I truly believe that we can manifest good things through our thoughts (or at least forget about the bad stuff for a while). I try to use lots of affirming sentences that put myself first (ie beginning in ‘I’ – this is the fourth one in this paragraph alone!). I even kid myself that they somehow counteract those nasty judgements that begin with ‘I am NOT’.
But, the simple fact is life is not one giant positive affirmation – and it doesn’t do us any good to think so.
Well it does us good to think positively, but it does us no good not to acknowledge the negatives. (now there’s a double negative!).
In other words we need to allow ourselves our ‘negative’ thoughts and feelings, sit with them for a while, and then try to reframe them in a ‘positive’ way. Otherwise I reckon we only make ourselves feel worse than we were before (ie guilty), like we were never entitled to feel bad in the first place.
Why it’s OK to wallow
My friend’s father died recently. He was 81. ‘That’ sad’, is the collective sigh, followed by ‘but he had a good innings’, the standard well-meaning platitude in cricket-playing countries (well in Australian anyway) upon the deaths of people who make it into their eighties. He did have a good innings. A great one. His death wasn’t tragic in a cut-short, accidental, shocking or criminal way, but it is still an individual tragedy for his family, for my friend who misses him so much, whose heart is breaking right now.
And it’s OK to wallow.
Life is cruel, and unfair, and sometimes it’s hard, impossible to see the beauty that is still there too. Better to wallow in how bad you feel until you wake up one day and the hardness hurts a little less, the cruelty and unfairness are tempered, ever so slowly (like cooking chocolate) and then eventually the bitterness is gone and the sweetness starts to come through because it was always there, along with the beauty. Only you weren’t ready to taste or see its bitter sweetness.
The sadness stays, but that’s OK, because it illuminates the happiness. Always.
Wallow, then swallow, then…
After we’ve done wallowing, or maybe while we are still there, we do start to swallow and slowly savour a new perspective. Sometimes loss comes with a lesson, other times it is just straight-out loss. But we need to swallow that lump that is stuck in our throat, so that we can stop crying, and move on.
Often what we wallow in is not loss at all, but a sense of limitation (blame, or shame, or past pain).
I reckon we realise our potential in recognising our limitations, as long as we don’t wallow in them too long. Potential only exists because we have limitations right now (even self-imposed ones).
And then it’s time for some Yin Yang Affirmations.
The Yin Yang affirmation
The Yin Yang affirmation acknowledges the negative and then makes room for the positive. It gives you permission to wallow for a while (but not forever). Here are some variations you might like to try.
I’m OK with feeling crappy now because I will feel better later.
It sucks that I feel crappy now, but I’ll feel better later.
It is OK to feel shitty until I feel better.
Pain is a shitty part of life, but it’s only part of life.
Things are crap right now, but they will improve.
I’m hopeless at doing this right now, but I will learn.
I’m not much good at this at the moment even though I know I will be able to do this.
I can’t help but give into the fear, but eventually it will fade.
I feel like I’m not worth forgiving, even though I know others want to forgive me. (ie not shame)
I feel like my butt looks huge in this, even though I know I’m only a size (insert size)
No-one values my contribution, even though I know that I have something to give. (ie not blame)
Things aren’t going right for me at the moment so they are bound to improve.
I don’t feel lovable even though others see me as worthy of love.
Ok – you probably get the idea. But if you still prefer your affirmations to be traditionally positive then there’s always Google – I did and get you almost 3 million search results. That’s a whole lot of positivity!
Here’s a nice list I found on a site called Prolific Living. (I love the name of that site).
Otherwise, be content with taking a yin-yang outlook on life – essentially positive, but allowing yourself to feel as shitty as you like, when you like. I reckon that’s balance.
Do you have a favourite affirmation – love to hear in the comments below.