The Danger of Repression
by Madisyn Taylor (Daily OM)
When negative thoughts arise it is best to address them rather than pushing them down where they will surface again.
For the last several years, there has been a lot of focus on the power of positive thinking. Many people have come to misinterpret this wisdom to mean that it is not okay to have a bad mood or a negative thought or feeling. This can lend a kind of superficiality to their relationship with life and relationships with other people. It can also lead them to feel that if a negative thought or feeling comes up, in themselves or someone else, they must immediately block it out. When they do this, they are engaging in the act of repressing a part of themselves that needs to seen, heard, and processed.
When we repress parts of ourselves, they don’t go away so much as they get buried deep within us, and they often come out when we least expect it. On the other hand, if we allow ourselves to be fully human, honoring all the thoughts, feelings, and moods that pass through us on a given day, we create a more conscious relationship with ourselves. Instead of blocking out thoughts and feelings that we label as negative, we can simply observe them and then let them go. They only get stuck when we react to them negatively, pushing them down and out of sight where they get lodged in our unconscious minds. A healthier solution might be to develop a practice of following any negative thought we may have with a positive thought. This works well because positive thoughts are many times more powerful than negative thoughts.
Rather than setting our minds up in such a way that we become fearful of the contents of our own consciousness, blocking out anything that is less than 100 percent positive, we might resolve to develop a friendlier attitude toward ourselves, trusting in our inherent goodness. When we recognize our true inner worth, a few dark clouds passing through our minds will not intimidate us. We will see them for what they are–small, dark figures passing through an expansive sky of well-being and truth.