I can’t help but notice that people seem to do a great deal of “positive talk editing” when they converse with me. Often even my clients, when they have a challenge or are disappointed or sad, seem reluctant to tell it the way they feel it. I’ve noticed a good deal of prefacing with statements such as “I don’t mean to be negative” and “It’s really a good thing, but …” I think somehow the “positive police” may have scared some of us about how freely and honestly we can speak.
Repression doesn’t serve any of us. When we repress, sooner or later we are going to act out whatever it is we’ve repressed. Many of us have experienced “spiritual” people who have the positive jargon down, but are seething with anger just below the surface.
Marianne Williamson has said, “Tell your truth as soon as you know it.” This doesn’t mean necessarily that we literally have to go and tell someone what we think; we might just tell our best friend or our life coach. I believe Ms. Williamson is suggesting that if we don’t express our feelings, the feelings will become distorted, and then we will have an emotional mess on our hands. We might become depressed, full of rage, or act out in other untoward ways.
We have all learned that words are powerful and that thoughts are literally things. Because of this, we might be afraid to say aloud or to write down that which feels unpleasant or negative in any way. I would offer that if we very carefully select a few people, professional and personal, whom we tell our whole truth to for the purposes of self-discovery and healing that we can move through our negativity and onto truth. If we carelessly tell anyone who will listen to us our pitiful story of woe, certainly we will get stuck in that woeful story.
I love the parable about the Buddhist monk crying at the grave of his master. Two other monks came by and said to him, “If you are so enlightened, then why are your crying?” The crying monk answered, “Because I’m sad.”
It isn’t “less enlightened” to be honest about our feelings.
When I worked with children I would ask them, “Is it okay to be happy?” and they would say, “Yes.” Every emotion would receive an affirmative response, even sadness. However, if I asked, “Is it okay to be angry?” They would say in unison, “No!” I would always tell them, “It’s okay to be angry”. However, it isn’t okay to hit or hurt others when you are angry. I am fascinated by the fact that from an early age children have already begun to repress anger.
I believe it is only truly negative and disempowering if we don’t move through states of sadness and anger. To not acknowledge your own grief or to pretend in some way is not a more enlightened way of being, it’s just phony-baloney. The truth is that when we try to fake it, our state of being is often glaringly transparent to others. It is also true that simultaneously we can be sad or angry but also know that there is a higher truth.
I have a dear friend who is a true spiritual ally. We each know the other is truly rooting for us to move through whatever is troubling us. When she and I and want to “have a moan” as we say, she will say, “Sour grapes, table for two!”