By: Rachel Jackson, MFTC
When you are feeling down and negative, how do you know? Changing negativity starts with identifying how you’re feeling. Emotionally you feel __. Maybe you feel tired, sluggish, sad, angry, irritable, and unmotivated. You may see it by tears, reactivity, talking back, negative self-talk, and blaming others. However, where do you feel this negativity hiding? Where in your body does it live? How does it impact your relationships: that with yourself and those with others?
When dealing with emotions, one of the most effective “remedies” is to turn inward into our bodies. We store important information inside. Therefore, in order to let go and process negativity, we must allow ourselves to feel internally versus through our heads and our minds. Negativity can feel dark. We often want to run from the dark to find the light.
Sit for a moment and reflect on the following questions:
- If you drew what negativity looks like:
- What colors would you use?
- Where does negativity live?
- What part of you is drawn to negativity?
- When do you push it away?
- How well do you sit with negativity?
- Is it a comfortable emotion for you or do you want to run from it?
- What do you notice when you feel negativity? Who do you feel negativity around?
- What do they do that triggers negativity?
- What environments are negative for you?
- What is the theme surrounding your negativity?
- On the other hand, what colors would you use to draw positivity?
- Where do you feel positivity in your body?
- Who makes you feel positivity?
- What energy do they hold?
- How do they treat you?
- Overall, do you attract positivity in relationships, work, friends, and situations?
- Are you more often in a positive mood or a negative mood?
- Can you hold space for both positivity and negativity in your body?
- What do you do for yourself in times of darkness in order to create light?
- Do you do nothing? Or do you have go-to actions to work through negativity?
When bringing awareness to the body, remember this –
Through the experience of negativity, you shine a light on something that is waiting to be recognized, acknowledged, and seen within you. In the experience of negativity, you have the opportunity to move toward even more positivity than before – more light can be found in the journey through darkness. Therefore, you must walk through, look at, and feel where the darkness is hiding in order to truly turn on the light switch and feel it’s light.
How Negativity Affects Relationships
How does your positivity or negativity impact your relationship with yourself and with others? When you feel a sense of tension in your relationships – with family, significant others, or friends – it is trying to tell you something. Negativity is a sign of either misalignment within yourself or within another. Misalignment can also mean a disconnect.
This tension is attempting to point you somewhere. Ask, what is the tension guiding me to do – pause, think, step towards or step away, reflect or project, ask or assume, embrace or push away, share emotions or thoughts, love or hate, accept or reject, and the list goes on.
We must truly know where the negativity is stemming from and what it is triggering inside. Can you identify where the trigger originates from?
Step 1: Under the Negativity, I feel _
Identify what you are missing, desiring and lacking: to be seen, to be heard, to be accepted, to be validated, to be embraced, to be unconditionally loved, to be respected, to be valued. You may feel: disrespected, unvalued, alone, unappreciated, unloved. Reflect on this when negativity arises.
Step 2: When did you first feel _ (insert step 1 blank)
Reflect on your first experienced when you felt this emotion. What was that experience and that reality like for you? Again, when you feel that emotion now, how does it feel in your body? Does your stomach hurt, does your chest tense, does your throat close, do you want to run or hide? Find a memory and then try to dig deeper, find more details and maybe journey to a memory even farther back. Give yourself love here.
Step 3: Pause and Reflect
Before reacting within your relationship, consider that your emotions and your response may be valid. Then, decide whether a new response may be more effective. Is this individual initiating and triggering the negativity within you and/or between you? Or, is this negativity triggering a deeper desire or lack or pain that stems from another area of your life?
Step 4: Find common ground
Use this framework when talking to the other:
I notice I am feeling. I am lacking & I would desire/appreciate _ from you at this time.
Reflect what you hear the other communicating (without justification or defense). Then, switch roles. Allow the other to communicate their feelings, lack, and desire to you.
Often, deep down we feel a core emotion that is the same. It is important to really reflect to find the deeper emotion that is under anger, frustration, disappointment or sadness, etc. How do you feel at your core?
Embrace one another where you are at in this moment. The light is always on its way through the darkness of negativity when you are willing to identify the fears, pains, areas of lack and true desires within relationship.
Healing is not easy. Relationships are not easy. Life is not easy. It all requires reflection, work, commitment to another and ultimately, commitment to oneself.
Look within and your outer world will begin to evolve into something with more brightness.