What You Can Learn From Negativity To Achieve Positive Results

We are currently living in the age of tiny houses, wanderlust, and positivity. Because of social media, people are now trying to fully curate and fill their lives with travel and Instagram-worthy experiences to help give their lives meaning. 

The focus of today is positivity. Be positive. No negativity around here. Don't kill my vibe. But, can we truly achieve personal growth and development by positivitiy-ing ourselves to death?

Over the years, I believe that self-help has gotten a bad rap. Many of the self-help book titles have become centered around listicles and positive speak, like these: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People; The Power of Positive Thinking; and The Secret. Just be positive. Put positive vibes out into the atmosphere and so forth. In Christian circles, the positivity train can sound more like this:

  • "Just pray more."
  • "You need to have more faith."
  • "Don't dwell on the past. Give it to Jesus."

From my experience, this type of thinking led me down a path of denial and total disconnection. I was growing into a person that lacked compassion, empathy, and presence because I wouldn't embrace my struggles. I tried to pray more. I read as many self-help books as I possibly could. I was advised, time and time again, to move beyond my past because my past didn't define me. Although it's true that my past didn't and still doesn't define me, connecting to my negative experiences held some of my greatest treasures.

Trauma was my home for 18 years. I was born into it. My soul was developed there. Everything I felt and believed was created there. Growing in an environment like this means that I was exposed to experiences that were maladaptive due to the fact that all of my internal bodily systems (endocrine & immune systems) were being developed under extreme stress. Growing in an environment like this also has significant mental and emotional repercussions.

Think of it this way: No one really wants to deal with a house that has a weak and unstable foundation. If someone did find that their foundation was compromised, chances are they would get the necessary interventions to strengthen and fix it. But, in order to get to the point of fixing it, you'd have to know that something was wrong.

After going through many years of therapy and intentional introspection, I began to see many connections between my actions, how I treated others and myself, and what I believed, and my adverse experiences. Because I began to do the hard work of digging deep and acknowledging my hardships, I started to experience freedom and connection, little by little. 

We have the ability to become healthier and more effective people if we can begin to engage our negative circumstances and use them as a platform for change and authentic growth. No one can grow through positivity alone. We must learn to embrace difficulty and engage with our adverse experiences in a truthful and interactive way. This allows us to have the ability to learn from the situations that take place in our lives.

We don't have to be defined by our past but we can use it as a catalyst towards becoming whole.