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Gaining Wisdom from Negative Events

by Nicola on 2015-07-19

Turning Negatives into Positives

Dr Nicola Davies

With the abuses of the past reflecting in the social and economic problems of the present, it’s all too easy for the Inuit of Kugluktuk to become overwhelmed by the negatives present in the environment, the community and their personal lives. 

The old saying, ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade’ is another way of saying that it is possible to take positive life lessons out of the most negative experiences. However, turning every negative thought or situation into a positive opportunity for growth and hope requires practice and guidance. How can Inuit practice turning negatives into positives in their daily lives?

Acknowledge your Pain

Pretending that nothing is the matter means that nothing will change. Acknowledging that something negative is taking place in the present or has taken place in your past is the first step towards healing. When confronted with negative or traumatic events or circumstances, we often find ourselves in denial. We don't want to accept that something bad has happened.

As the reality slowly sinks in, we are no longer able to deny the impact of the negative event. We may feel frightened, helpless, angry, guilty or even ashamed and embarrassed. Trying to deny or bottle up these emotions is negative for your emotional, spiritual and physical health.

Get Help and Support

If you are feeling overwhelmed by negative emotions and thoughts, it’s essential to recognize that you don't need to cope with them alone. Speaking to a counselor, spiritual leader, or those closest to you will help you to understand yourself better. You may even find that simply verbalizing your negative thoughts helps you to process them. This can be difficult to do, but it is an essential process in your spiritual healing and the first step towards finding the nugget of positivity that is hidden within every negative thought or experience.

Learn a New Pattern of Thinking

A study on resilience - the ability to recover from negative events or environmental stressors - found that the most resilient people have something very significant in common: They are able to find positive meaning in negative circumstances. Our brains can be trained to make positive thinking patterns almost automatic.

What we are looking for is the mental pathway to happiness. When we find it, new connections are formed in our brains. We enjoy the experience and so we find ourselves revisiting it and the more frequently we do this, the easier it becomes. By developing positive thinking habits, we quite literally ‘change our minds.’

That doesn’t mean we deny the existence of negatives, but it does mean that we become able to take lessons for personal growth from negative experiences.

Limber up your Brain for Positive Thinking

Even if you don't feel you have any negative issues to overcome, thinking positively makes you happier, healthier and better able to cope when negative events shadow your life. Here are some mind exercises that can help you to acquire the habit of positive thinking.

  • Think of three things to be grateful for every day. If you can think of more, go ahead and do so! Being thankful for the good things in life is the first step towards positivity.

  • Make peace with the past. We can't forget the bad things that have happened, but we can accept that they did happen, and enter a process in which we let go of fear, anger and other negative emotions. Once again, making use of your support system - friends, family, or counselors - can help when you are finding this difficult.

  • Be kind to yourself. Look in the mirror and think about three things that you like about yourself. Be realistic. Nothing and nobody can be ‘all bad.’

  • Recognise and allow yourself to enjoy the positive moments in every day. Life is strange: good and bad things happen simultaneously. Be ready to recognize positive moments even when you are in the midst of stressful situations.

Get in Touch with Yourself

Research has shown that the practice of ‘mindfulness’ helps us to deal better with physical and emotional pain and suffering. It also improves our chances of living a happy and positive life. Take time out alone to simply ‘be.’ A few minutes in the morning or evening spent in a quiet environment without any disturbances is all it takes.

Experts recommend deep breathing exercises to clear the mind of clutter. When thoughts cross your mind, don’t judge them. Know that they are there and allow them to just drift away. Neurologists have found that the practice of mindfulness actually rewires our brains, making us more able to live in the moment, limiting stress caused by concerns for the future or pain from the past.

Look for Meaning

When bad things happen, we are presented with an opportunity to acquire new wisdom if only we are able to learn something from what happened. By doing so, we are able to enrich our lives and those of others through sharing these life-lessons and helping others in similar circumstances. Although negative situations are painful, they offer us an opportunity to become stronger and wiser than we were before.





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