i’ve been hearing the word “negative” a lot in the wellness space recently; negative feelings, negative energy, negative people, negative habits, etcetera.
to call something negative is to negate it— to remove credence and worthiness from it. it is a dangerous judgment that we casually make on all sorts of things, people, and situations on a daily basis.
as you may have read on a recent post about permission and empowerment, i believe our words impact our subconscious and well-being more than we realize.
what actually happens when label our feelings, for example, as “negative?” well, our subconscious becomes conditioned to believe that these particular feelings suck. and then we may be led to believe that we suck, or are weak, or are failures. it doesn’t matter if these beliefs reach our conscious minds or not— our subconscious, the chief control center that pulls our lil human puppet strings, will be operating on these beliefs.
okay, so let’s say a person’s subconscious has decided they are whack as hell because they have challenging feelings they’ve judged as “negative” (and then probably suppressed or brushed aside). let’s say that this person’s conscious mind believes that they mostly like themselves. let’s posit this person also happens to be simultaneously living their best life on the outside— because that high-functioning “fight” of fight-flight-freeze fame is some real ass shit when your subconscious is trying to overcome your conditioning by giving you the illusion of safety...
what can happen from here is that the suppressed emotions and unchecked self-judgments can turn into mental or physical illness. they can also turn into chronic, seemingly random “the world is against me” life patterns— in relationships, career, whatever. these are classic examples of stagnant or blocked energy/qi/life force being expressed via the body-mind connection.
that’s poo, you guys! you know what’s more fun? deciding that our “negative” emotions are not fucking negative. they just *are*— they simply exist. what our challenging or lower-vibrational emotions actually are are *information.* they’re a little autonomic flag or response that goes off to tell us that there’s something to look at— that something within us is out of alignment. both internal and external stimuli, as we know, can trigger these flags.
when we allow our understanding of challenging emotions to be that simple, we take the charge and judgment and feelings of failure and overwhelm off of them. doesn’t “challenging” sound more accurate in this context? what we’ve historically called “negative” emotions are actually emotions that are challenging us to stop and pay attention to what is challenging us deeper within.
this is shadow work. there is a reason why i made the background of this graphic a bright, optimistic yellow. because shadow work— going deep inside our “dark,” hidden places— can be *simultaneously* nerve-wracking, scary, exciting, life-giving, confusing, nourishing, illuminating, intimidating, empowering, and even joyous. the binary of this experience itself is the heart of shadow work: the recognition and compassionate acceptance of the inherent duality of the earth plane and the human experience. we can hold seemingly opposing forces at once— and when we do, we can let out a deep sigh of relief. we are still here, we are still whole.
as someone who devoted about half a year in 2016 to go deep into my shadow— i kind of made healing my job— i can tell you that it is profoundly liberating, comforting, and transformational. funny, because it was only when some people close to me judged me (out of concern and a desire to help) for being “too deep in it” that i felt devastated and started spiraling; i was the greatest mess for those two weeks that i chose to accept their assessment that i was wallowing and attached to my pain.
and this is what causes most of us further pain when addressing pain— the judgment of the pain itself and the shame that we are feeling it. this response creates contraction, which in addition to amplifying the pain, restricts the healing process. healing requires the opposite of contraction: expansion.
once i decided that i no longer believed their judgment, i immediately came back into my power; i allowed myself to embrace my deep *knowing* that i was in fact sitting squarely inside my pain so i could offer it recognition, honor, love, compassion, and space to fully express itself— and in so doing, i was alchemizing this energy, freeing it from contraction back to its natural and neutral state of “is-ness” (the natural state of all beings).
now coming back full circle to applied practice per the language piece; particularly when speaking about personal and interpersonal development work, i do my best to avoid “negative” as a term. instead i try to use phrases like the following:
- lower-vibrational energy
- challenging emotions
- non-resonant people
- limiting beliefs
even though these aren’t perfect themselves (because labeling is a function of separation and supports the illusion of 3d duality— all is ultimately neutral and oneness), i believe they have a much lower charge than “negative.” really, you can use any of the above prefixes interchangeably for a variety of uses.
less limiting language and harsh self-judgments, more loving, accepting, and seeing the whole as all parts worthy! there are no mistakes, all is by design. <3