We have all experienced negative energy in our lives. This year seems to be a big year of change and transition for many people. Whether because it's 2012 or the end of the Mayan calendar, there seems to be an undeniable fire burning under our seats -- perhaps for a reason. Life can seem more challenging and negative experiences more intense. As we become more self-aware, negative emotions can often rise to the surface in order to be released and healed. This is a good year to practice healing negative experiences.
At times we are negative and other times we are on the receiving end of negativity. Where does it come from? And what's the best way to deal with it?
Negativity is born of pain, frustration and fear. It tends to travel like a virus. It's constantly looking for a place to go and destroy a piece of someone's spirit. Think of a boss who yells at his employee, and the employee who absorbs negative energy from work and then releases it unto his family. Perhaps your friend has a problem and dumps it on you, and you feel awful afterwards. Negativity can be subversive and subtle, showing up as bitterness, sarcasm or superiority. This is the way negativity tends to travel, from one person to another. It likes to share and spread itself.
People transfer and channel energy, oftentimes in an effort to release it. Fortunately, there is something we can do to transmute negativity in the moment.
Here are 7 Ways to Transform Negativity
1) Choose to understand. People who are negative are suffering inside. Negative behavior is always a front for something else. It is often the result of pent-up anger, sadness, stress and other unfelt emotions. Looking past the negativity and choosing to see the source of someone's behavior will automatically begin to transform negative energy. Many people are simply seeking that moment of acknowledgement. Simply having the intention to understand will shift the intensity of the negativity. Practicing detached compassion can help to alleviate underlying pain and suffering.
2) Notice the way you respond to negative energy. When someone throws an arrow of a comment your way, how do you respond? Do you feel attacked? The way you respond to negativity will shift the energy. Negativity is used to resistance and reaction. If you give negativity space, it allows it to breathe and shift. It's like putting a magnifying glass on the negativity and saying "There you are!" It can no longer hide. By giving pause and responding from a centered place, it allows you and the other person to be more aware of the negative energy and respond to it.
3) Let people OWN their own negativity. We all have bad days. It's not our job to make every situation better. Some people just need the space to process their own pain and frustration. Let's remember that we're not here to change and help everyone, especially those who are not open to receiving it. When people are negative, sometimes just letting them own their stuff and have their negativity is the best way for them to transform it.
4) Choose not to take it on. Don't take the hook when someone spews negativity your way. Oftentimes people spew unconsciously. Chances are, it is part of their normal M.O. Do not take it personally. Like an Aikido master, you have the power to release negativity from your space like water off a duck's back. Don't be afraid to use your imagination. Be conscious about not taking on the energy. Watch it flow by you and notice what happens. By simply being aware without judgement, it provides the opportunity for negative energy to shift.
5) Shapeshift Your Perspective. The idea of "negativity" is often a two-way street. You are receiving it and experiencing it -- is it outside you or within you? Choosing to be detached and neutral, you can choose to take a spiritual approach. Ask yourself: What is the lesson in experiencing this right now? What would allow me to shift this situation in an empowered way? What does this "perceived" negativity represent in my life?
6) Forgive. I don't believe you really need to know "how" to forgive. Simply begin with the intention of forgiveness right away and notice what happens. Forgive yourself for feeling bad about what happened, and whoever is involved. "I forgive you for _____, and I forgive myself for ______." Almost all negativity simply comes from misunderstanding and miscommunication. Rarely is there ever true mal-intent involved.
7) Contemplate. When you have a fight or confrontation, let there be some space before you communicate with that person again. Wait at least 24 hours. Take that time to contemplate what happened. Ask yourself, "What caused this misunderstanding and frustration?" Don't look for blame or straight answers. Remember, it takes two to have conflict. Be willing to take responsibility for your part of the negative exchange. Ask yourself, "What did I do to contribute to this?" See if you can put yourself in their shoes. Take the time to reflect on your own actions, behavior and judgments. Be willing to own your own stuff.
How present can you be in the face of negativity?
The more present you are, the more empowered you become in dealing with negativity. Being present is being aware in the moment without judgment. It's a state of openness, receptivity and vulnerability. Presence allows the space for acceptance and compassion to come through, naturally transforming negativity.
It is not about making negativity go away. Negative experiences will always be there. But they can be hidden opportunities to heal, self-reflect and transform.
It's how you deal with negativity that matters most.
Pause, breathe and be aware. Practice compassionate Aikido.
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For more on emotional intelligence, click here.
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