Truly Looking on the Bright Side

It is particularly difficult to exercise and practise self-love when you have recently experienced rejection, let yourself down, or have been treated badly by people around you. These, and many other things, have the potential to make the world appear extremely dark. It is so easy to spin ourselves out when something bad happens – it’s a strange thing our brains often do: “this bad thing reminds me of this bad thing and that bad thing and – oh no everything is bad!”. I wonder if it is possible to master our minds’ abilities to spin the other way: make a happy list and let the good things that happen to us have as much (or preferably even more) weight than the negatives. Give it a try – spin out about all the good things. Maybe before you go to bed, or even whilst your brain busily reminds you of bad things.

 

From many situations – even the really rubbish ones, we are given a great deal: we are given experiences, emotions, questions, ideas. Rather than pretending these things haven’t happened it is important to have a look and skim out the good. From any given situation take as much as you can – take that which serves you and respectfully decline the rest. If you didn’t get that role you applied for or didn’t get a grade you wanted, take that experience and congratulate yourself for trying, have a little look at what it taught you, and respectfully let all the other elements go.

In every struggle there is always one incredible positive: you are still going. You are still being. That is a big deal. In every bad situation you have done something amazing for yourself: you have recognised those negatives and been self-aware enough to see that you don’t like them. You can learn from this what your body doesn’t like, what your mind doesn’t want, and what your soul doesn’t need. Perhaps you can make alterations so as to avoid feeling that way again. Maybe you can’t make those changes – but you can be as kind to yourself as possible through these situations: you know you don’t like something so be immensely proud of yourself for surviving it. You might think of yourself as a child that doesn’t want to go to the dentist but does it and is given a treat for being so good. (Give yourself those treats, even if that treat is just not being mean to yourself all day!)

There is a cliché about seeing the light in the darkness, but I think it is an extremely beneficial emotional metaphor: it can feel dark sometimes and that is so scary, you can’t see anything else. But imagine turning on a light – the light at the end of the tunnel perhaps (another cliché but a good one!) that light can be something as small as noticing that you have made it through another day or that you have taken the time to read this.

As much as life can give us a lot of unexpected negatives, a lot of unexpected good can also happen without us even noticing. So, take what you need, enjoy what you have, and leave the rest.