Spiritual Baby Steps

"Doing" spirituality in the real world

Shifting in a Positive Direction

I was listening to a podcast tonight about positive emotions. Something really struck me… and I’ve heard it before but for some reason, it really resonated with me tonight. I’ve struggled in the past with positive affirmations. First of all, most affirmations that I see are usually really exaggerated compared to my current state and secondly, telling myself positive statements that I don’t believe doesn’t usually make me feel better (probably due to reason number one!).

The podcast was discussing a snippet of an Esther Hicks talk. The main point was that in order to get to a more positive state, you don’t have to get to the ultimate end point, you just have to shift in a positive direction. I’ll give you a personal example. Lets say one of my coworkers (only because I don’t want my family to get mad at me), is really irritating me. In the past, I may have used a positive affirmation such as, “I am all loving and totally accepting of all people, including all of my coworkers.” The problem is, I really don’t feel that way in the moment and just because I say it doesn’t necessarily make me feel it. So, the point of the discussion was that we just need to feel for a slight shift in thinking. I could definitely think to myself, “Even though this coworker is irritating me, she is not the most irritating person I’ve worked with.” That feels better than my initial thought and, the important part, I do not feel an immediate resistance to the statement like I did with the exaggerated positive affirmation above.

Our minds tend to continue moving our thoughts forward. So, lets look at how each of these statements might progress after the initial thought.

  • Sheila is really irritating me today. I can’t believe she actually said that in our team meeting. Who does she think she is? She certainly isn’t helping herself with comments like that. I hope she asks for feedback from me this year because I’m really going to let her have it.
  • This is not the most annoying coworker I’ve ever known. I’ve definitely worked with more difficult people in my day. Maybe I’m just learning how to handle myself better? Nah… I don’t think she’s really as bad as Larry was. Now, he was bad. Sheila’s actually ok on most days. Maybe she was just having a bad day today. We all have bad days once in a while. Maybe I should check in with her and see how she’s doing.
  • I am all loving and totally accepting of all people, including all of my coworkers. NOT! That’s a joke. Who is really all loving, anyway? What does that even mean to be all loving? I certainly don’t FEEL all loving toward Sheila. I am so judgmental. What is wrong with me? Why can’t I just be nice and get along with people?

Now, obviously the actual thoughts could go any number of ways, but you get the point. A slight shift in thinking can impact all future thoughts and lead you down a completely different path. Also, consider how you would feel with these various streams of thought… definitely better with some than others. In the first one, I feel even more irritated. In the second, I’m actually feeling empathetic toward my coworker which is good for both of us. In the final statement, I’m totally beating myself up. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty clear on which path I want to wander down.

So the biggest obstacle that I can think of not to make the slight change in thought is not realizing that you’re on the path until you’re neck-deep. So, next time we’ll talk more about how to recognize the fork in the road when you’re at the start of it. Until then, I encourage you to pay attention to your thoughts and see if you can make the slightest shift toward happy.

Love and laughter to you!  ~Rashel

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4 thoughts on “Shifting in a Positive Direction

  1. Hi Rashel,

    Really great post, you so should write more and more. I beat myself up whether blogging about self improvement is just another distraction from doing self improvement. But, I have such a strong feeling that there are so many similar people out there (‘seekers’ as Lama Surya Das calls us), that we really need to support each other. Your post couldn’t be more ‘timely’ for me, because I’ve really got to have an authentic conversation with a colleague, and today!

    The little bell that went of in my head when I read it is that the Buddha always thought of his path as a middle path, between asceticism and worldliness. In other words, you are absolutely right, unless we can frame life within the context of our reality, we aren’t going to connect with real change.

    Thanks for the post, oh, I like your new profile picture, it’s as if you turned to face your audience! Or am I just finding something symbolic out of the abstract. 🙂

  2. Thanks, Jerry… and yes, I am facing the world now… one blog post at a time!!

  3. Shelley Johnson on said:

    Excellent blog. I have also battled with the concept of positive affirmations and their worth in the big picture. I always seem to reference my cancer journey. (Maybe because it was the biggest battle of my life, and I had to tap into any and all things that might possibly aid in my survival. One of those tools, was positive affirmations.). At any rate, I tried using “extreme” positive affirmations, as was suggested. The big problem was, no one thought I would survive my prognosis. So therefore, I had a hard time telling myself I was going to be in the less than 1% that could survive. After a while of playing with different affirmations, I tapped into ones I really felt were realistic for me, at that point in time. Things like continuing to work, exercise, stay otherwise healthy and strong. As time went on, and I physically and emotionally did so well, I upped my p.a.s, eventually I was able to picture myself truly surviving and beating cancer. People think and many times say, “your positive attitude is why you have beaten cancer”…..I’m not so sure. The truth is I did not have a totally positive attitude right off. I accepted the fact that I might very well die. Once I had accepted that, I was able to fight for my survival. I stopped spinning my wheels with anxiety and stress. I still use positive affirmations today, in pretty much the same way I described earlier.
    I also am so glad you’re writing again, Rashel!

    • My Mama, you are truly the most inspirational person I’ve ever known! You touch on such an important factor… Acceptance. Once you truly accepted your state, you were able to be clear, present, and positive!! Thank goodness cause I can’t imagine not having you here! I love you 😘

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