When we give ourselves permission to open up to the idea that there is no right or wrong, we begin to see that purpose and meaning can be found all around us. Opening our mind to this way of perceiving the world allows us to find gifts in the most unexpected places if we are willing to look for them. One of these places includes the negative mind. Is it really possible that a gift can show up in the form of negative thinking? I am here to tell you that it most certainly can. This has been my very own personal experience and I wouldn't take one moment back on my journey from darkness to bliss. How is it that swimming in my own sea of negativity became the catalyst to awakening my spirit? Let me explain.

For as far back as I can recall my thoughts revolved around two major themes that sounded like: "life never works in my favor" and "I am not enough." Some of the more specific thoughts that played an obsessive role within these themes sounded like "Life is unfair." "Life is hard." "I'm not smart enough." "Nothing works out for me." "I can't do anything right." "I'm not deserving." "Nobody listens to me." "I'm not pretty enough." "I'll never get there." (Wherever there is.) "If I speak up, I will sound stupid."

And there are plenty more where those came from. The attachments I had to these thoughts were solid. These thoughts dictated who I thought I was and therefore, life continued to prove to me over and over again that these "negative thoughts" were indeed true. Without them, who would I be? It felt like life was handing me one big disappointment after another. It was dark. It was confusing. It was painfully agonizing. So where could this gift be hiding? Here is what I discovered about gifts that can be found, not just in my particular situation, but in all of the challenges that life hands us.

They don't hide, but rather they show up in the darkness, the confusion and the pain. This darkness can lead us to destructiveness or bliss. We are given a choice, and thankfully I chose bliss. Finding the gift of bliss came out of my willingness to accept all that I was experiencing rather than judging it or making it wrong. From this place I was then able to make space to access the peace within me that enabled me to shift how I experienced life and thus witness miracles beyond what my mind could perceive. According to research conducted by the National Science Foundation, the average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. The more attached we are to them being true, the more they will create an emotional state within us. Because this is true, the more negative our thoughts are, the more uncomfortable we feel. In my experience, the more discomfort I felt, the more uncomfortable life felt.

Thankfully, the more uncomfortable life became for me, the more I desired genuine inner peace. I found that the more I desire anything, the more I am willing to take action to create change. What I know for sure is that both my desire and my willingness to change my thinking and how I perceived myself ran deep. What I discovered was not just a sense of genuine inner peace within myself, but the realization that each and every one of us has this gift within us right here right now regardless of how our minds are speaking to us. I say the more negative and messy our mind is, the bigger chance there is of our world desiring to wake up and shine bright. As spiritual teacher, Debbie Ford states, "When you make peace with yourself, the world will mirror back this same level of peace." I believe this is possible for each and every one of us regardless of our fate. The key is that we must have the willingness within us that overpowers all other aspects of ourselves. We must be willing to shift our perceptions. We must be willing to see things differently. And yes, we must be willing to be wrong.

"The flower needs the mud out of which it grows" -- Eckhart Tolle

Just like a seed needs the mud to transform into a beautiful flower, we sometimes need the negativity of our conditioned mind to wake up and remember that our spirit has been with us all along. I was gifted with an excessively intense negative mind that forced me to wake up to the present moment. Although my spirit would speak to me in quick, fleeting moments and say "this isn't the way it has to be" or "This negativity isn't really yours" the negative thoughts were so loud and persistent that I would just fall back into being who I thought I was. I realize today how lucky I was that I experienced so much pain.

Author Russ Harris says, "80 percent of everyone's thoughts contain some sort of negative content." As long as we are human we will experience negative thinking and pain will be attached to it if we are not consciously aware and know how to manage our thought process. If you are to take just one nugget from my story please know this. No matter how you are currently feeling -- know that it is OK. I will never say "turn that frown upside down." That frown has meaning and purpose. That frown is trying to send you a message. Our emotions are our greatest allies if we would stop denying them and begin to love and care for them. They are always trying to communicate a message to us. It's just a matter of whether or not we will stop and allow ourselves to listen to them. Whatever thoughts you may be listening to in that mind of yours, know that each and every one of them come bearing gifts.

 Be with your thoughts and emotions and know you are right where you need to be in this moment. Spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle states, "life will give you whatever experience is the most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness." Trust this powerful statement and know that you are always being guided. Sometimes this means experiencing what isn't serving you for as long as you need to in order for you to finally say "enough is enough, there must be another way." But guidance can't be received if we don't allow ourselves to fully engage with what is true in the moment.

"What you can't be with won't let you be." -- Debbie Ford

Even through our negative thinking, our spirit is guiding us to return home to the most powerful place of accepting all of what we are experiencing. It will give us the time and space needed until we are ready to surrender and let go. For now...all that is necessary is that you choose to find acceptance in the knowing that peace is already within you when you are ready to receive it.

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