Is This You? – “I don’t have a reaction. I have a bag of chips.”

At a recent women in business meeting, the theme chosen was positivity. We discussed what positive habits we wanted to focus on this year, and then examined a reading about being positive.

The reading bothered me – it was an “authoritative piece,” but I believe it was all backwards.

How should one be positive?

I firmly believe that positivity starts as being true to oneself. It starts with integrity.

If we’re not true to ourselves – if we tell ourselves lies – how can we have a relationship with any other person based on integrity?

One of the reading’s tips was something along the lines of “Never let a negative thought enter your consciousness.”

Ouch.

“Ooh! You thought something bad! You’re BAD! That’s a no-no! You failed!”

See where that train of thought leads?

If you’re not allowed to have certain types of thoughts, and you’re not supposed to think about the big rhino in the room, doesn’t simply the mention of the rhino make it that much more attention-grabbing?

Instead, I think the rule should be this: “Keep a welcoming attitude towards your thoughts and feelings.”

Whoa! Radical, I know.

You may also be thinking, “Huh? How will a welcoming attitude towards my emotions and mental chatter help me?”

It will help you. In a BIG way.

If you’re labeling thoughts or feelings as wrong, you’re putting yourself in the wrong for having those thoughts or feelings.

The natural reaction is to “stuff” the bad thought or feeling. Bury it deep, pretend it doesn’t exist.

When we stuff our feelings and reactions, we fall out of integrity with ourselves. It’s a bad relationship to have with your emotions.

Reactions are human. Natural. Normal.

Erasing your emotional reactions, or stuffing them down, can lead to a number of issues.

At a cravings workshop recently, one attendee said, “I don’t have a reaction. I have a bag of chips.”
Man eating cheese curls

This person, in refusing to have a reaction, was falling out of integrity with herself. She was stuffing her emotion – not wanting to feel something she might label as “negative.”

SO many of my clients don’t have reactions. They eat instead. Call it emotional eating, stress eating, compulsive eating – it’s a big issue to face head-on, and can lead to a lifetime of struggle if it’s not addressed!

Allowing yourself to feel your emotions, both positive and negative, is a much healthier choice than diving head-first into a candy bowl to avoid the charging rhino.

Instead, try to acknowledge the big ugly rhino. It may go something like this:

“Wow! That news story made me pretty sad. It downright sucked. What can I do in my own neighborhood to support people facing those issues?”

See where the positivity came in?

Ok, maybe you wouldn’t take it that far. Maybe it’s more like:

“Wow! That news story made me pretty sad. It downright sucked. I’m going to turn off the tv, feel sad, and eventually move on to something that makes me feel happier.”

And in the end, you’re honest with yourself, you skip the bag of chips, and you’re more in touch with your feelings – win, win, win.

Modeling integrity in your emotional awareness is important not only for your emotional wellbeing, but as a role model for your kids. Stay tuned for next week’s post, a continuation of this topic: How can you support your child’s emotional awareness?

 

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2 Comments

  1. Appreciated this post. I’ve struggled with a lot of “positive thinking” pieces over the years, and your post put into words a lot of my struggle. I’d think I needed to keep all “negative” thoughts out, but could never do so (because that’s not really possible). But I didn’t understand that and so thought something was wrong with me. Thanks, Nicole!

    • Nicole

      So glad this perspective helps, Robin! Thanks for your comment. 🙂

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