23 May 2011

Embodied Self-Awareness - Positive vs. Negative

I wonder how the world derives on these two words in the first place – positive and negative. Why good feelings and thoughts are placed under positive and bad ones, categorised under negative? Are only good feelings and thoughts good and only bad ones, bad?

Probably I have been in search for a deeper understanding and meaning in life, I often ponder and reflect, observe and question. One word that I value and learn is ‘BeFriend’ from my supervision. When our body has been fighting so hard and defend ourselves all the time, we will find ourselves sometimes stuck, exhausted and resistance may surface. Numerous books, articles, blogs have been trying to promote positive feelings and thoughts and to strive for a positive lifestyle. Why is it happening? Have we been living in a world of negativity? Is being constantly positive always help? Do we have to push away all the negativity that may arise? How come there is a division between them, a world of contrast and opposing one another? Don’t we all have both in feelings and thoughts? Then why are we dividing them in the first place?

Balance and integration is my belief and philosophy. It is what I am promoting and creating awareness in my life and help my clients to find it. I come to recognise if we sit in the extreme ends and living in denial, we can fall into the danger mode of perhaps pushing ourselves too hard, either to strive only for the positive feelings and thoughts or take away the negativity and completely avoid them. Or just choose and stay in either of each mode.

Is positive all the time good and negative all the time bad?

As a dance/movement therapist, I believe our body is a great indication of our being. Our body often will signal to us how we are, how we are doing at the present moment, that is, what we are feeling, what we are thinking. Perhaps today I don’t feel so good, feeling a little lousy over a matter. The question is are we going to ignore it or are we going to listen to what it is trying to tell us about ourselves. Feeling lousy, feeling sad, feeling angry, to name a few, is not necessary a bad thing, isn’t it? Instead of trying to push it away and pep ourselves up with reasons, positive quotes what I MUST do… but listen to our feeling and thought, for example, “Ah I am feeling angry right now, why is it so? What is ticking me to be so?” Maybe talk to someone about it. Anger may seem to us bad and perhaps even ‘taboo’ to mention it. However, anger can be an important message in trying to tell us something about ourselves. Maybe we are still holding onto a past, a matter, childhood issues, something we associate with, bias, prejudice… that we may have suppressed into our unconscious mind or not aware of. It does not surface for no reason. If the anger becomes a constant problem and greatly affect our lives and others, it is advisable then to seek help with a professional. To acknowledge it is never easy but to avoid it and let it erupt out of nowhere (it is nothing wrong to express anger but if it turns into something uncontrollable, then help is needed.) is also dangerous not only to ourselves but to others as well. 

Is anger (or any other feelings) always negative? Can it be positive? What about sadness? (for instance)

Perhaps when one has dwelled in the mode for a long time and not knowing what to do, it makes us feel that it is bad since it is never a nice feeling. When it is there for a long time and for years, it is advisable to seek help in this case. However, if an uncomfortable feeling comes for the moment and sometimes it can take a few days, a few weeks in that uncomfortable state where we cannot put a finger in the feeling, and it is then not a bad thing after all. Our body has something to tell us.  We often find ourselves we want an immediate answer as how our society is often geared towards but sometimes it doesn’t happen just like that - in a snap of the finger that we have the answer. 

Often, eventually, we will find an answer to what our body wants to tell us if we allow ourselves to sit on it, to let it evolve. If you ask me, is it easy to go through it. No, it is not. But from my experience, when we practise it, we develop the awareness of being and I am often surprised by the answer and it can even sparkle off new inspirations, ideas and new transformation takes place as a result.

Now what about positive? 

If we strive to be positive constantly and push the negative away, probably it can lead to an extreme of craving for the positive, nothing but that. The more we crave as in push towards that and reach the high point, we feel good at the moment, but we still have to come back to reality. The high ecstasy feeling, the rush, is never permanent. If we constantly seek for that, only that, but push everything away, then it can be dangerous.

Being positive can also be to acknowledge and embrace the negative feelings and thoughts and turn them into our growth and nurturing ourselves and others in return. Not sweeping under the carpet and pretend that it does not exist. The fact is we encompass all feelings and thoughts and each has its energy and value we can learn from if we learn to listen to it.

No doubt here I am relating to feelings and thoughts, it is also applicable to success, riches, fame, materials… I am not against in pursuing them. Just bear in mind that if we find ourselves craving non-stop for them and pushing ourselves to the extreme, then we have to question ourselves why? Is it to fill our emptiness or needs that are not fulfilled or met which may have resulted from our childhood? Or is it a form of escapism not to face the inner truth our body is trying to inform us. Sometimes we chase against time and keep ourselves busy (even in social work or helping others but neglect ourselves), however, does it help in the end or why are we doing so?

It takes time to develop embodied self-awareness and it is a process and journey, the more we develop it, the more we develop a deeper insight and understanding to ourselves. Just by listening to our body, feelings and thoughts as one.
~ Reflection by Elizabeth Rutten-Ng

Pointers – this sharing is referring to a general feeling and thought. Cases like depression is advisable to seek professional help for example. It is more complex than it seems than just being a positive or negative feeling and thought.

Embodied self-awareness is a programme run by Embodied Movement in facilitating participants to develop a deeper awareness of self. Contact Elizabeth for more information or check out her workshops. Special arrangements can also be requested for individual or a group. Welcome to read the feedback from the various participants who have attended the workshops.

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