Hanging On

Tonight, I’m obsessing about “the things I hang onto.”  Unfortunately, it’s not the positive things that roll around in my head and I wonder about all of us.  How much do our negative thoughts impact our happiness?

The answer to that question is obvious. It is difficult to think about what level of happiness we feel when we are faced with challenge after challenge (after challenge) and we just can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I’m not sure where I’m going with this except to say that it’s so important to acknowledge the emotions you do feel, even the painful ones.  None of us are pain free.  It’s the holding, the avoiding acknowledging our feelings that creates so much pain, confusion and despair.  We’re often taught to “suck it up”, “hold it in, don’t express it”, and “only baby’s cry”.  I guess those are ways of coping with emotions, I just don’t feel they are the best or most compassionate ways to treat ourselves.

So, would you act different, be different if you were looking at how to compassionately treat yourself?  It puts an entirely different twist on how I treat me.  I think it’s easy to get caught up in treating others with compassion and somehow forget about ourselves in the picture.  The truth is, if we start inside first, it’s a whole lot easier to be kind, caring and compassionate to others.

4 thoughts on “Hanging On

  1. Michael Thornton

    I definitely agree with you that we allow our negative thoughts to “dictate” our state of happiness. And I also agree that too many of us repress our intense emotions, sometimes even when they are good.

    If we could only start looking at our emotions as an indicator that we are not fulfilling our desires…Instead we look at our emotions as reactions to something that is happening to us. Regardless of what we have been “taught”, we have the ability to control our emotions. No one else has that power.

    So, when we are feeling an intense negative emotion, it would be helpful to look for small ways to make us feel better. Maybe rephrasing our thoughts a bit or taking a walk or listening to some good music or talking with a friend. Anything that will help improve our emotional state (one small step at a time). So, if you are depressed, feeling angry will probably be an easier step than jumping to ecstatic. Or maybe it is simpler to go from impatience to pessimism than impatience to optimism.

    Your statement about treating ourselves with compassion is great advice. I believe that we can only love and have compassion for others to the level that we love and have compassion for ourselves.

  2. Nat

    Why do you suppose we don’t hang onto the positive thoughts in the same way? It’s been true for me also that the negatives rattle around in my head for weeks or longer. It’s curious.

  3. Michael Thornton

    That’s a good question. Is it as simple as we aren’t taught any other way? No one shows us how to hold our positive thoughts. So, we watch others and see how they poorly handle their negative thoughts. But, we don’t know it is being handled poorly.

    Or is it because we have this “belief” that things must be hard or you’re not really living? As opposed to the opposite thought that “life should be fun.”

    Or maybe it is because low self-esteem or low self-confidence is so very pervasive in society that we don’t really notice. So, we tend to stick to the negative thoughts because of our non-positive self view.

  4. Flo

    My “theory” is that the negative thoughts affirm some belief we have in ourselves, so we keep on hanging on. Slightly masochistic?

Comments are closed.