Transcend Negativity

by Christopher Lovejoy on January 9, 2011

Negativity is a common occurrence in daily life.

If we’re paying attention, we see it everywhere, with everyone, all of the time.

Sometimes it’s mild, sometimes it’s intense.

When it seems more than a little mild, and when it recurs or persists, it seems to have the effect of diminishing the quality of our lives or constricting the vitality in our lives.

Positivity, by contrast, seems to enhance the quality or expand the vitality.

Negativity and positivity, however, are two sides of the same coin – two sides of the same coin of life. One light, one dark – both in keeping with the inherent duality of life.

You might also say that finding fulfillment in life involves knowng when such a coin is made of gold, silver, nickle, or copper. They all have value, some obviously more than others.

Let’s flip a few coins and see what we come up with.

A Context for Negativity

I said that negativity seems to diminish the quality of our lives or constrict the vitality in our lives.

Thankfully, the reality is quite different.

In your interactions with this world or with others, you rely on your sense of dignity (in effect, your sense of promise) and your sense of integrity (in effect, your sense of possibility) to negotiate and navigate.

You negotiate your encounters with a sense of promise and you navigate your experiences with a sense of possibility, and if either of these senses feel compromised, negativity is often the result.

That is, you either blame or shame yourself for your own problems, inadequacies, or difficulties, or others will do the blaming and shaming for you – either legitimately, or through the force of their own projections (coming from their own problems, inadequacies, or difficulties).

The part of you that troubles itself with quality (your soul) attracts negative encounters when it has dark spots that it has been unwilling or unable to negotiate and/or amend deeply.

The part of you that concerns itself with validity (your spirit) attracts negative experiences when it has dark spots that it has been unwilling or unable to navigate and/or process quickly.

The antidote seems obvious: heal the dark spots; process them and/or make amends for them.

But I’m afraid it’s a little more complicated than that.

Your dark spots – the stains on your soul (if any) and the holes in your spirit (if any) – are usually covered over with shame and guilt, and locked into place with dread and fear, respectively.

And, sad to say, you might have picked up these dark spots (or had them imposed on you) when you were too young to know any better or too naive to know better in a previous lifetime.

The hope that I offer, with some practical pointers below, is to have you transmute or transform negative encounters or experiences, respectively, into positive, beneficial outcomes.

But first, what, soulfully speaking, lies at the heart of negativity, and what, spiritually speaking, lies in the mind of negativity?

Based on the definitions I’ve examined (negativity, negative, negation, negate), the act of negating is the taproot of negativity. If we can understand and appreciate the not-so-simple and sometimes devious act of negating, I think that we could go a long way towards transcending negativity in our favor.

Negativity is defined simply as the quality or state of being negative.

Negative describes that which contains, implies, or expresses negation, on the one hand, and that which denies, contradicts, prohibits, or refuses, on the other. Common examples includes a negative answer, opinion, response, or reaction, or more broadly, negative behavior or conduct.

Negation is the act of negating by way of denial or contradiction; or an instance of negating; or the absence of something actual (for example, black is the negation of all colour).

To negate, from the point of view of soul, is to deny the existence or truth of, or to refuse to admit, whereas from the point of view of the spirit, to negate is to cause to be ineffective or invalid.

To help us put these definitions into perspective, it’s helpful to keep this distinction in mind: when you take your rest, the heart of your soul intends quality for the sake of intimacy, and when you make your move, so to speak, the mind of your spirit expects validity for the sake of vitality.

Your sense of promise as a soul requires quality to have intimacy to function adequately.

Your sense of possibility as a spirit requires validity to have vitality to operate effectively.

Before proceeding, I would strongly encourage you to ponder these two statements carefully, giving some thought to where the act of negating might be most effective, while keeping in mind that negation has only as much potency as you choose to give it.

Clearly, if you keep negating quality, you make intimacy impossible, and if you keep negating validity, you make vitality impossible. To starve the soul, you merely need to keep removing or refusing quality, and to crush a spirit, you merely need to keep denying or contradicting the validity of its actions in its quest for vitality. This is dangerous knowledge, I know, but forewarned is forearmed.

You’re now in a position to deepen and broaden your understanding and appreciation of what it means to affirm your sense of promise with a sense of possibility – with dignity and integrity.

Some Preliminary Matters

To affirm your sense of promise from the heart of your soul is to speak your truth to power.

With a soul, you’re able to contain, contemplate, and cultivate quality: you can be intimate and savor your intimacy, speak your truth to power, affirm your dignity, and safeguard your sense of promise.

With your soul, assurance of your sense of promise is your greatest asset.

To assert your sense of possibility through the mind of your spirit is to lend power to your truth.

With a spirit, you’re able to identify the validity in your actions: you can be vital in your enjoyment of your vitality, express power confidently, keep your integrity, and protect your sense of possibility.

With your spirit, confidence in your sense of possibility is your greatest ally.

Before we look at some examples to bring these statements down to earth, it would do well to know that we live in an egophrenic world (rhymes with schizophrenic), i.e., an ego-minded world.

What this means is that the mainstreams of most cultures in this world are compulsively caught up with the energies of the spirit. In other words, the world has lost its soul.

One consequence of this loss of soul is that we live in a world where people have generally lost touch with each other in a way that undermines everyone, whether we know it or not.

Knowing this, you have an opportunity to bring balance to this state of affairs, and in the process of doing so, cultivate assurance and develop confidence in tandem with each other.

Examples From The So-Called Real World

Negation functions and operates on so many levels, it would stifle the heart and boggle the mind if you let it. To put this into perspective, it’s important to be aware of three main avenues of negation:

  1. when you negate your own sense of promise or possibility;
  2. when you negate the sense of promise or possibility of another; and
  3. when someone negates your sense of promise or possibility.

There’s a certain, inherent, sequential logic here; with a little thought, we can see it as circular.

If you’re in the habit of negating your own sense of promise or possibility, you’ll likely be compelled to negate someone else’s, and if you negate someone else’s sense of promise or possibility, someone will likely try to negate your sense of promise and possibility, and if someone succeeds at negating your sense of promise and possibility, then you’ll likely negate your own sense of promise or possibility.

It’s a vicious circle that can go on and on and on without end.

We really could start anywhere, so let’s begin by shedding some light on the third avenue in this list: i.e., when someone negates your sense of promise and possibility.

I’m going to assume, perhaps unfairly, that you already know enough to affirm and assert your own sense of promise and possibility without feeling compelled to negate anyone else’s.

A safe place to start is with poor service.

Problems with service are like red flags. They alert you to actual or potential inadequacies or difficulties.

Keep in mind that inadequacy (“You/they can’t seem to …”) functions within the realm of soul and that difficulty (“You/they just can’t or won’t accept that …”) operates in the realm of spirit – both of which trigger the soul or spirit to recognize or realize a problem (“I/we don’t like it when …”).

When someone is negative and provides you with poor service, you can practice the transcension of negativity in two very general ways:

  1. by affirming your sense of promise with dignity to transmute negativity; and
  2. by asserting your sense of possibility with integrity to transform negativity.

The way I like to see it: to transmute negativity is to mute it with the promise of positivity, and to transform negativity is to change its form by engaging it with the possibility of positivity.

Now let’s get more specific.

What follows are two examples of negativity that I’ve encountered or experienced in a service context, where the service providers in question attempted to serve a need of mine for the first time.

Generally, I approach every service encounter with respect, I give service providers the benefit of the doubt when things don’t seem right, and I’m delighted when I receive warm, friendly service.

Despite this, and with increasing frequency it seems, I’m encountering some unusually cold, distant, and withholding behavior as well as some intensely rude, belligerent, and hostile conduct.

Example 1
Inadequacy: A Challenge to the Soul

A few weeks ago, I had my ice skates sharpened. The service provider who sharpened them appeared completely absorbed in himself when he arrived at the front desk of the store so that I could pay the small fee for the sharpening. This was someone who appeared healthy, both physically and mentally.

I asked him if he accepted cash (there was no cash register to be seen) and he answered resentfully. Moments later, he dutifully asked for my name and phone number without saying why. Throughout the transaction, and to the very end when it came time to pay up, there was no eye contact, no friendly gesture, no attempt at small talk, no word of thanks.

The negating act was simply to deny my soulful existence, refusing to admit that I had a right to exist in any way other than as an object of a transaction.

The service was clearly inadequate and the effect was chilling. If I didn’t know any better, I might have taken it personally, but at the time, it still felt like an affront to my dignity. I said nothing, but in retrospect, it would have been better to call out the behavior with a creative and compelling act.

An affirmation that would have served as a foil to the negation.

Like maintaining a peaceful presence until I was noticed, or delivering a string of positive, affirmative words, warmly conveyed: “I’d like to think that I can still do business with you”.

Example 2
Difficulty: A Challenge to the Spirit

I was on a bus trip to my hometown with someone dear to me. The procedure for getting tickets home is to get them from a machine and then validate them, but we couldn’t validate them because the machine didn’t work. When we got on the bus and politely queried the driver, he went ballistic.

The intensity of his rage was way out of proportion to the difficulty at hand. I entered the Witness posture and stayed calm, not in the least afraid of his tactic of deliberate hostility, and questioned him further for clarification, respectfully, until I was satisfied that he didn’t have the answers I needed.

The negating act was simply to invalidate the value of my questions – as if I had no right to ask them.

The service provided was worse than offensive. It was unconscionable. In spite of the attempt to intimidate and browbeat me into submission, I stood my ground and maintained my sense of integrity.

In retrospect, I realize that I could have tried to nip the rage in the bud by saying: “I’m not blaming you for what’s wrong here. I want this resolved as much as you do.”

I have more examples highlighting inadequacy or difficulty, but these two should suffice for now as two vivid illustrations of negation, with suggestions on how to respond to them affirmatively.

On a positive note …

Interactions with others vibrating at different frequencies, whether or not we know those with whom we interact, is a powerful, growth-enhancing way to get to know ourselves, soulfully and spiritually.

I’ve met and interacted with too many helpful, wonderful people to think that this world is going to hell in a handbasket, but I must say that I am concerned about people generally – more so now than ever before – and legitimately so, I believe.

As a counterpoint to this general trend, I’d like to recall the moment, about five years ago, when I met someone for the first time who embodied soul and spirit in ways that had her radiating in a divine light.

For all I knew, she could have been an angel. Maybe she was. Anyway, I had spent the entire weekend going through a strange kind of hell and I was almost ready to go home. I just needed to get some crutches for a broken ankle and learn how to use them.

She identified herself as an occupational therapist and addressed me in a warm, reassuring tone of voice and with a friendly smile. Her visage conveyed assurance and her eyes sparkled playfully.

Her soul and spirit in perfect balance, she was ready, willing, and able to assist.

It’s with this image in mind that I’ll conclude this post.

Negative encounters and experiences alert us to problems and present us with opportunities.

In any negative encounter, in the face of inadequacy, we can practice a virtue of the heart, from the heart of the soul – alone; in tandem with another; or together, in tandem with other virtues of the heart: we can learn to be more understanding, more empathetic, discerning, forgiving, and grateful.

With any negative experience, in the face of difficulty, we can view it as a legitimate challenge to the spirit: we can choose to rise to the occasion and process it as an opportunity to express confidence or to demonstrate competence, to arrive at a broader view or a fresher perspective.

With negativity generally, we can see it as a gift in disguise for our personal growth, as a means to manifest some or all of our purpose in life. In our wisdom, we have made negativity evident to ourselves so that we can cultivate or develop whatever it is we wish to cultivate or develop as part of our purpose.

To affirm rather than negate a sense of promise, from the point of view of soul, is to allow or admit the existence of truth in the face of inadequacy, to transmute negativity into a positive encounter.

To affirm rather than negate a sense of possibility, from the point of view of spirit, is to assert what is effective or valid in the face of difficulty, so as to transform negativity into a positive experience.

To affirm rather than negate, with assurance and confidence. With dignity and integrity.

You might make it a practice to affirm and assert whenever and wherever possible, but remember this paradox: with nothing to negate, there’d be nothing to affirm or assert.

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