Spiritual teachers have endless self-help strategies promising to help us achieve deeper and more lasting happiness. If we just let go of this and add more of that, we too can become our best self and live our best life.
Positivity is a word so overused that we often feel as if we’re failing at life if we’re not positive all of the time.
Not to diminish the power of positive thinking, though, as I’m a true believer in the law of attraction, like attracting like, and the idea that we are powerful creators.
I’ve watched my thoughts craft my experiences, both desired and undesired. I know that during times in my life that I’d stayed focused on my goals, truly believed myself deserving of them, and refused to doubt myself, I bore the fruits of my endeavors.
Having said that, it’s no secret that life is complicated and we have our own personal struggles, emotional triggers, and hard lessons to learn. On difficult days, weeks, or months, staying positive is our greatest challenge.
I feel like a failure on those dark days when the sinking feeling in my heart won’t dissipate, days when I’m incredibly sad and sitting in that emotion is the only possibility for me. I feel as if I’m failing as a person and a yogi because I’m not transcending my emotions.
Allowing our deepest, darkest emotions to move through us can be our greatest teacher—they shine a light on what’s hidden, or on what we’re resisting.
I began thinking about the things I do which often lead to my feeling like a failure.
This list is a reminder to myself and an offering to you. Sometimes we need to just stop: stop beating ourselves up, and stop allowing ourselves to feel defeated for not bypassing our pain with techniques on being more positive.
Here are three things we can stop doing so we can be happier when we’re struggling to find even a pinhole of light in the dark.
1. Reading checklists like these that tell us how to be happy
We’re inundated with checklists on social media sites that tell us what to eat, what to read, and mostly how to be happier.
On a good day, when we feel motivated and self-love is at the top of our personal checklist, these articles are wonderful. They serve us, raise our vibration, and give us great starting points. People inspire us and we very often crave inspiration.
When life grabs hold of us, however, and our emotions become hard to navigate—a scary health issue, a difficult relationship—reading these articles which offer promises of greater happiness may not feel aligned with our needs, our pain, or our process.
Go ahead and get pissed off, feel your pain, and stay off the internet for however long you need. When you’re ready to seek inspiration once again, endless happiness checklists await. Seek inspiration, seek answers, but also seek to integrate your true authentic emotions…even when they aren’t positive.
2. Clinging to the labels we place on ourselves
I am a yogi. I meditate. I’m a good Christian. I’m open-minded. I’m spiritual. I’m a democrat. I’m a peaceful person.
Labels can become constrictive and limiting. They may be true—we may practice yoga, meditation, and religion. Our political beliefs may be in alignment with our values, and we may seek to be of service to others. We are also so much more.
I’ve fallen prey to the zen-yogi label where I feel like I’ve failed if I lose my cool or say something that isn’t aligned with those precepts. That, however, is a label that I’ve imposed on myself, which is actually not making space for me as a whole person.
Maybe we need to get good and angry sometimes in order to experience the full spectrum of our lives. Anger is an indicator that we aren’t feeling valued or understood.
How can we know what we DO want unless we fully understand what we don’t want? And how could we know this if we don’t allow for full awareness of our emotions? Any spiritual practice is just that: practice.
3. Giving and taking advice
We experience our lives through the prism of our own personal lens in this world. We each have our own unique upbringing, our separate experiences, and our own truths. What may work for one may not be the answer for another.
I have friends who find true happiness in cooking elaborate meals, baking for friends, and making beautiful crafts for the home. I’m completely disinterested in any of that. It doesn’t appeal to me and I often feel as if I’m passing for normal at gatherings where those types of ideas are being exchanged.
A person who feels fulfilled in one way may give advice based on their own experiences. Our only reference point is our own experience. Very often when we give or get advice we can start to question our own path. I’ve found that when I trust my own internal guidance system, I find the answers I seek.
We know when we’re walking the wrong path. We feel it. There’s no need to seek advice or to advise others. I’ve found that when our goal is seeking support or giving support rather than advice, our bonds strengthen. Be your own judge. Trust yourself. No one knows you better than you know yourself.
Let’s release the pressure of life together and witness one another unmask in self-awareness. Let’s peel back our layers until there is nowhere to hide. Let’s be happy.
Only the truth of who you are, if realized, will set you free. ~ Eckhart Tolle