It’s Friday the 13th! So let’s talk about embracing negativity…
I treasure this group of people. I don’t know any of you in real life (or at least I don’t think so), but so many of the personal posts fulfill something in my life which I would otherwise find to be lacking — namely honest sharing of our human experience, and what seems to be our common trait of being “outsider women.”
With that in mind, the post about mindfulness and melancholy was a perfect example of what I’m talking about. It was open, raw, real and honest. I thank the person who wrote it for bringing this to my frontal lobe for closer inspection!
Two main thoughts jumped out to me:
1. That I have also had difficulty with mindfulness, though in a somewhat different way.
2. This reminds me strongly of a major aspect of the German world/life view in which they (and I; more on that later) see the world as requiring the dark in order to see the light. (I’m painting with a broad brush and I realize that not all Germans think/feel the same way. But I’m saying this with decently good authority, so let’s just roll with it for the sake of simplification.)
I’m gonna dig into each point now…
My own weirdnesses relating to mindfulness
It comes from a learned behavior from my mother. She’s a hard core perfectionist (although she denies it) and her frantic need to prove her worth by way of presenting Martha Stewart-esque dinners actually winds up nearly ruining the final results more often than not. That’s because in the preparation phase she’s browbeat herself and her family to the point of actively not enjoying ourselves.
Not everyone has the same soul crushing need for perfection like my mother, but, many people tend to get so wrapped up in the process of creating special moments, we can easily miss the special moments that happen along the way, not to mention the “main event” when it’s all said and done. I know that’s a very real thing for me and I’ve been trying to find a better way to go about things.
Perhaps mindfulness isn’t the solution for it for everyone
Or at least perhaps not in such a “down deep” way. Maybe it’s more about learning new habits to override the old “harried” way of experiencing special times. Like just setting up a friendly reminder on your phone’s clock that goes off at regularly scheduled times (daily/hourly/etc) that says, “Pause, take a breath, find something to smile about.”
I learned about intentional new habit building in a group therapy called Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). I have to say I’ve been in all kinds of therapy since I was a teen, and I have had many positive results but absolutely nothing gave me the “best bang for my buck” than DBT. The only thing is that some DBT therapists charge exorbitant amounts of money. Look for people/places that aren’t so expensive. They’re all teaching the same material.
The German embrace of the negative
The vast majority of my ancestry is German, my stepfather was German (he still would be, but he sadly passed away) and I lived in Germany for five years from the age of 12 to 17. We lived a German life while we were there; I went to German schools, lived in average German neighborhoods and I’m still close with my German friends and family. That’s why I feel relatively confident about making the broad stroke assessment here…
I didn’t realize until years after I moved back to the States, but the German outlook suits my personal view of life much better than the American one. Although I do wish Germans were generally kinder to strangers (they tend to keep their smiles for the people they know and love), I do admire their unapologetic skill in taking the bad with the good.
That means that melancholy is not only normal but totally healthy from their perspective!
It seems practically nihilistic to many Americans, but they’re just better realists. That means that melancholy and negativity is not only normal but totally healthy from their perspective!
I believe that when we label something within ourselves negatively (often out of fear), it tends to consume us more.
Think of it this way, you probably don’t usually question your “positive”
That’s because we’re taught that we should feel good. And if we do, that means you are good. Conversely, we’re told that negative feelings should be avoided because negativity is bad. It could mean that you’re bad.
But it’s not true. So I hope you can receive this: try not to feel bad about feeling bad. Do as the Germans do, and embrace your negativity.
How do YOU handle negativity? Embrace it? Ignore it? Inhale tacos? Let’s talk about embracing negativity!