We’ve all heard the advice to think positive, look for the silver lining, look on the bright side, and what you focus on expands. This is wonderful and empowering advice.
But… is there a chance that this might NOT be the best thing to do at times?
If you find that something keeps popping up for you, repeatedly, and you can’t stop thinking about it, then thinking positive thoughts and pushing the troubling thought down is not the best advice for you.
This thought keeps showing up for a reason!
There is something that it is trying to speak to you. And it’s showing up now because NOW is the right time to deal with it. When you continue to push it down, it will just keep popping up until you acknowledge it.
Imagine that you are swimming in the ocean, having a wonderful time, and then a corked bottle pops up beside you. You recognize it as having a note inside… and this note is something you wrote a while ago… about an incident that you would rather forget…
You can clearly see the note inside the bottle. It brings back with it all of the bottled up emotions that are tied to the incident. You decide to push it down under the water where it’s out of sight / out of mind. And you choose at that moment to focus your attention on the beautiful sun, and the relaxing time you are having swimming in the ocean.
Well, if you have one disturbing memory or thought bottled up, it’s likely you have a few more.
And sure enough, another one pops up beside you. There’s a long note inside this bottle, too… detailing what someone did to you a long time ago that you just can’t get over. So you push this one down under the water too.
Up pops another bottle with a note in it, and another… and some of the bottles that you already saw start to pop up again!
Pretty soon you are NOT able to focus on the wonderful swim you’re having no matter how hard you try to remain positive because too much ‘stuff’ keeps coming up! Thinking about the ‘positives’ in your present life just doesn’t seem to be working here. Whenever you let down your guard, everything pops up and is right there surrounding you. Pushing it all down is NOT going to work and you know it.
So what can you do?
If you can bring yourself to believe that something from your past keeps ‘popping up’ for a REASON, then choose to look at it as objectively as possible.
This means NOT judging yourself, or anyone else who was involved. Ask yourself, “What are the facts? What happened exactly? What is my perception of what happened? Is there another possible explanation?” Ask again, “Is there another way of looking at this?” Keep asking yourself if there are other possibilities.
It has been proven that our memories are not as rock solid as we would like to think they are.
Different people who have witnessed an event will all have different stories as to what happened, and if there was a video camera recording to watch, it could likely show something completely different from what the witnesses said happened! And when you add in the fact that what we remember gets tainted over the years; it fades a bit here, and it gets a little fuzzy there, and then changes completely in some ways, who knows what really happened? Yet, we continue to hold so adamantly to our memories?
When you let yourself ponder these different elements, you may think about how YOU were a different person back then, and the other person was a different person back then. And if you could do it all over again, you would do or say things a lot differently this time.
It is often beneficial to go back in your mind and re-enact the situation and give it a different, more empowering outcome.
Now, you are starting to get somewhere!
If something keeps popping up in your memories or in your life, it is because you are meant to learn from it, or do something about it… and not just keep pushing it under and trying to think positive thoughts to avoid dealing with it.
When you keep pushing things down, they “bottle up” and this creates a lot of stress, and ultimately disease manifests itself in your body.
Life is messy. Admit it, nobody has a perfect life! Even the people who seem like they have everything going amazing in their lives, have got ‘secrets’ that they are just not sharing publicly, especially on social media! People tend to tell the stories and show off the photos of things that they WANT you to see. And then you see these it’s easy to think, “It looks like I’m the ONLY one whose life sucks!”
You can’t even go for a figurative “swim in the ocean” without all these bottles of ‘stuff from your past’ popping up! What to do?
Look at the ‘stuff’ that pops up for you. Look at it objectively.
Journal about it! There is something truly magical about WRITING. Getting everything out of your head and onto paper is very therapeutic.
You can then look at what you wrote, and decide what you want to do with it. Maybe you will decide that this belief no longer serves you and you can then change it around a bit. Maybe you need to confront someone and let them know what is bothering you. Think about what you could learn or do differently if you were in that situation again. Maybe you could use professional help. Make the time to do something.
How can you use this situation to help others?
This is one of the most powerful ways that you can take an otherwise unacceptable experience and make it into something beneficial. Pushing it down and trying to distract yourself with positive self-talk is not going to solve anything! When you take these things that have been bottle up, and instead of pushing them down, you have a look at them objectively – without judging yourself – you will then be able to let them float away.
They will float off into the distance, and appear smaller and smaller. They will still BE there, you will still be able to vaguely see them, you will likely not be able to forget about them entirely, but at least they won’t be huge and in your face, and popping up while you are trying to enjoy your day.
And guess what, they might float back near you again from time to time. (You didn’t want to hear that did you!) You just do what you’ve already done. Be objective and non-judgemental. Realize that this is showing up in your life for a reason and do your best to learn something from it, do something about it, or use it to benefit others.
Your experiences shape who you are, build character, and make YOU truly unique. Your thoughts and beliefs about these experiences shape what you choose to DO with the rest of your life.