One afternoon about five years ago I arrived at the classroom door to collect my youngest son from school. My face cannot have sported a very serene expression because another Mum let me have it (out of the blue) : “Oh cheer up you! It may never happen!” – What she didn’t know was that my father had died unexpectedly the day before. I was mature enough not to throw that fact in her face – after all, she “meant well” didn’t she?!  But the words “it might never happen” were not helpful.  It had already happened!!

We all face death one day, in ourselves, in others, maybe in our parents in particular, because they run a generation ahead of us when it comes to life’s great challenges – often, not always.

Another example: at a local playgroup years ago I once heard a woman share: “I am really anxious today. I found lump in my breast this week and I have an emergency doctor’s appointment later today’. Another woman instantly said, “helpfully”, “It will be OK! You will be fine!” For this particular woman things did NOT work out fine. She died of breast cancer only a few years later and left very young children behind.

So what is with this new trend of bombarding other people with relentless positivism?

I know people who are so amazingly positive day and night and always and forever that they seem to be in complete denial about the harsher realities in life. They are not people I am inclined to share my anxieties and failures with.

I also know people who never have anything positive to say about anyone or anything – and those people I dread most of all! They drag me down. It takes a lot of energy to stand next to them without being sucked down a vortex by the sheer energy field their words and attitude create.

So how do we walk this particular minefield? How do we arm ourselves or disarm ourselves?? How do we extend a true helping arm?!

A teenage boy here in the UK committed suicide this week, only hours after collecting his GSCE results. Someone wrote: “God is happy to welcome a new angel!” Well…. personally I think humans and angels are different types of beings altogether and better not confused in either this realm or others. I also doubt that God/Goddess finds joy in anyone taking their own life. But I do appreciate that unspeakable scenarios demand a response to things where all words are likely to fail…

When Flight MH 17 was shot down over the Ukraine someone wrote: “Time to celebrate the Soul Graduation for these beautiful souls!” Again I feel there is a lot to unpick in that statement (see my previous blog :A Shamanic Perspective on Flight MH 17 if you really want to know how a shamanic teacher views this!

… and in truth it offends me! These people were just like you and me. They decided to go on holiday or excell at sports or try to save the world from AIDS. They had houses, hopes, dreams,  loved ones and and a future – just like you and I assume we all have. And then they fell from the sky, in place they never would have chosen to visit alive.

Personally I feel that Life is the most wonderful gift ever but that life also offers many experiences that, on the purely human level, are excruciating, maddening, frightening and devastating. I do not believe that spraying such situations with copious amounts of enforced “positive thinking foam” (as kind of “well-meaning spiritual fire fighting”) is helpful – or even a positive spiritual act in any sense. It may be comfortable for the ‘fire man or woman’, allowing them to inhabit a spiritual comfort zone, while another human being goes to pieces in front of them, loses her life, or his child, or her future. That too is part of the human condition. There is no Divine guarantee at all that it won’t be you or me tomorrow.

As a shamanic teacher I often say to my students: “Let’s invite our fears into the room as honoured guests – and let’s thank them for keeping us safe, for all their gifts to us before asking them to move on now, as we have now found other ways of being in the world’.

I feel that the only way to negotiate this particular minefield is to be fully present with WHAT IS.  Maybe even to say: “I have no words that do this any justice, but I am there for you”, or simply hug someone and hope body language says it all.

I am a shamanic teacher and spiritual person. I love clever positive thinking as much as anyone. When “negative (shocking, painful, traumatic) things happen in my life I do very soon start looking for the gifts in adversity and the proverbial golden lining of the dark cloud.

But just as we operate “Freedom of Speech” in our culture, I would like us to operate “The Freedom To Feel And Express Pain”. And freedom from the words “you should” (the root stem of which is related to the Germanic/Old Norse word Skuld or Schuld – and it means DEBT).

For it is sometimes a more spiritual act to “be with what is and allow it free expression” – so it is not pushed underground, only to reappear much later in an uglier and more mysterious way.

Is that asking so much?

What is really being asked of us, on a soul level, in these situations?

Imelda Almqvist