by: Clayton John Ainger
The New Year is always a time for reflection and forward planning. When all of the festivities are over, many of us enjoy the anticipation and excitement of what the year ahead may bring. During this time of year, evaluating our lives feels more natural. It is also a great opportunity to help our clients understand what they want to create in their lives, to celebrate their success and how far they have come, and to take ownership of the obstacles they put in their way and go within.
The challenge is that whatever we want to create in our lives is often seen through the lens of emotion. In particular, the feelings about areas of our life we want to change appear difficult with our negativity distorting our view.
We all experience negativity and know it’s unpleasant, but it’s our reactions to our negativity that can cause us harm and get in the way. We fall too naturally into the trap of focusing on resolving our stress rather understanding the motivations of our negativity and using its energy as a fuel to create our heart’s desires. Our coping methods are all too often those of evasion and retreat, rather than surrender and understanding.
By continuing to ignore and avoid the messages, we communicate to ourselves through our negativity and we end up living in its shadow, allowing the areas of our lives that we are least satisfied with to create further negativity, to make less progress, giving it more and more power over our lives.
Choosing to retreat can be difficult to avoid because it can be an unconsciously ‘trained’ response to keep us safe, but the attitudes we form based on our decisions to retreat can become well hidden, long-lasting, and powerfully destructive.
The self-diminishing attitudes that go unchecked are self-reinforcing because on some level we are aware of the potential impact our negativity has on our lives. Cognitive dissonance springs into play: a client’s awareness (e.g. that they didn’t go to a job interview) rubs up against their awareness that they had a legitimate shot at the job, and one of them needs to change.
The reason we perpetuate self-destructive patterns is our lack of understanding about negativity. Being strongly motivated by the instinct of self-preservation, we end up creating excuses for our inaction. We paint a picture of ourselves that is incapable of success. In doing so, we excuse ourselves from the emotional discomfort of being aware that we are actively holding ourselves back. The legitimate shot that the client had at the job they never pursued becomes an outside chance that they were perfectly justified in passing up.
One of the most important things we can do for our clients is to give them a fresh perspective on negativity. When they understand negativity is here to serve us, not to hinder us, they will stop repeating unhealthy patterns of behaviour and instead begin creating their dreams.
All negativity relates to and comes from events in our past. Every time you have a negative experience, you are literally reliving an event from your past in the ‘here and now’. Your negativity acts like a beacon sending out a signal to attract back an experience, which matches your negativity. So if you give your negativity a meaning that equals ‘this is bad’ rather than ‘I have something here to learn’, your experiences will then match this ‘bad’ meaning, which in turn shapes your personality, and ultimately the life you live. Giving negativity a new meaning that allows clients to see it is a natural and valuable resource for change, allows them to hear the feedback they give themselves. It no longer becomes an unconscious, trained avoidance but instead a conscious choice to act.
Our clients are ideally situated, because they have access to a second impartial opinion, unfiltered by the distorting lens of their emotions. With our knowledge, we’re perfectly positioned to initiate (or deepen) understanding.
As we do our best to start the New Year running, to bring change to those areas of our lives that cause dissatisfaction, I invite you to notice you, to own your heart’s desires and to embrace your negativity. Listen to you and hear the lessons you want to teach yourself. Choose to use your negativity as a resource rather than an obstacle, that way you transform the negative energy that holds you back into something that will take you to new heights and new horizons!
Clayton and his wife Lindsay run a successful training and consultancy business, working with people all over the world, from different walks of life. From once being a tax specialist Clayton is now a sought-after consultant and speaker on “Why people don’t do better, when they know better.” Clayton loves to be different, to challenge the status quo, and inspire the people and companies he works with to explore new ways of thinking, attitudes and behaviours, transforming lives and results for the long term.
To discover even more new insights and understanding to change old belief patterns and perceptions about negativity, read Clayton’s award-winning book The Ego’s Code.