Friday, October 16, 2009

Positively Negative

I smile when I am nervous sometimes. That's usually okay but when it is a situation when someone shouldn't smile it becomes a bit of a problem. For instance, the second time Yousuf was getting sedated, I walked away with my hand over my mouth hiding a smile instead of trying to conceal a possible quivered lip. It was a bit funny SOUNDING when you hear nothing but screams and cries then within seconds of the flush of anaesthetics his cries are quickly silenced by a falling backward into the arms of the OR doctors. It's scary and amazing at the same time. Though I felt sad, I think a surge of laughter would have released any negative emotions in a more positive mode.

I was reading this article in a magazine about how our facial expressions actually create a more intense feeling of sadness or happiness..or whatever the emotion is being triggered. They discovered this due to botox. Women who have had it done seemed overall happier. Botox, in which relaxes the muscles in order to prevent frowning which causes the wrinkles, actually formulates less of the emotion that frowning brings with it. I was thinking, hmmm maybe they are happier because they LOOK better! The researchers said that the women actually did not feel any more confident in themselves. They continued with the study finding that when they would separate a group and show both groups the same disturbing images allowing one group to act and express themselves freely and the second group was told to hide any facial expressions that could be triggered. It was reported that the first group felt stronger emotions then the second. But here's the thing, when the groups were asked to perform cognitive tasks, like a fill-in-the-blank worksheet, the answers were more negative in the second group who was asked to suppress their emotions. They also did poorer in memory tasks then the first group.

So which is better? Suppress the feeling and suffer other minor consequences? Or allow yourself to feel your feelings, express them even if a bit stronger? I think I have heard a few different opinions on this. There is of course a slightly middle course in that you suppress them sometimes and feel them at other times and channel the negative emotions in more active approach. I mean God gave us feelings for a reason, right? ...Even the negative ones. The negative emotions, if channeled correctly, should motivate the person for change. Change the situation, change the environment they are in, or change and make up for a mistake that was made to create the negative feeling. What about the things we can't change? How do we deal with the negative emotions then?

During some parts of Ramadhan and immediately following I had a small duration that I was feeling overwhelmingly sad. I felt as though I was crying constantly. I reached out to someone I know who also has a daughter who had leukemia. I explained to her my feelings and what I was going through. She replied in a nonchalant manner saying, "Oh, because you're going through the depressed phase from all of this." I was thinking to myself... umm yeah, so what do I do? I wasn't asking for a diagnosis but rather a prescription. I quickly caught on.

I allowed myself to feel sad. I allowed myself to cry...and cry...and....wait! Now I am ready to do something. Maybe I can't change my situation. I can't change the fact that Yousuf has cancer or that his treatment will hinder many things in my life. I certainly can't change the fact that I am his mom and his main source of love, acceptance and support. However, I can make positive changes in some areas in my life, my home, the world.

Every obstacle or huge event in our life will gather within us crowds of emotions and phases of emotional states. I notice that a lot of people (especially myself) feel guilt, shame, and more sadness FOR feeling sad. Feeling negative about a negative feeling will only escalate it until you have buried yourself in grief.

When I was sad I recognized it and accepted it as part of the process and also the healing. I didn't blame myself or think of myself as being weak. I quickly looked for therapeutic remedies to nourish my heart. Firstly, accepting my feelings through a positively negative approach (allowing myself to be sad without guilt) and doing what I could to change myself by looking way beyond myself, to the world outside ME.


  1. LOL i felt like laughing the second time my son was sedated!can't believe you just said that too!1 i acually felt as if i was perhaps losing the plot a bit... but yes, you are right, it's ever-so-slightly comical the way the SUDDENLY get knocked out!!!

  2. Thanks for agreeing with me...I was worried people would think I was insane! :)

  3. above comment was me, yes i find computers confusing..!! found the whole sedation scene comical even though i was worried sick!! first time i came out of the theatre in tears, second time trying to supress a grin , and hold back tears at the same time..!!