One of the paradoxes of life is the dual nature of things. We live every day ignorant of this, yet its absence would spark a feeling of inconvenience that would make us wish for the days before.
One clear example of this is freedom and captivity. With the emergence of COVID-19, our freedom of association, mobility, and relaxation were taken from us and replaced with captivity, stagnation, and isolation through lockdowns and curfews.
It is at this point that we remember and long for the days where our freedom was with us and we had choices.
This is why when there is heat, we turn on the air conditioners. When there is cold, we use the heater.
The balance of this duality is essential to human existence and comfort.
Within this mix of hot and cold lies another; good and bad.
Everything that exists is both good and bad.
The sun is good and stimulates photosynthesis in plants but too much exposure to the sun by humans can cause skin damage, early ageing, and even skin cancer.
Sugar is sweet to the taste but too much sugar in the mouth begins to taste bitter and unwanted.
This is mot to mention, of course, all the negative consequences of it whether in excess or not.
However, it is not only the external elements that are subject to this.
Internally, humans have this duality where everything is good and bad.
One of such is positive thinking and negative thinking which is optimism and pessimism.
Positivity comes with the feeling of hope and good ideas; of the firm belief that we would achieve that which we are optimistic about.
While pessimism or negativity comes with doubt about what we want to attain and gradually sips in self-doubt which makes us begin to even doubt our abilities, skills, and talent.
We cannot divorce these two feelings from our minds.
Even when we try to concentrate on positivity, there is an open door where the negative keeps walking through asking, ‘what if?’.
This is if our first instinct is to tilt towards religion, we pray against this and blaming the devil for sending us negative thoughts which would keep us away from our desire.
We believe that any negative thought while waiting in anticipation would render our faith useless. But this is not the case.
Humans are master deceivers. We have perfected the art of deception so well that we deceive ourselves unknowingly.
We take refuge in the ancient technique of ‘masking’ which eventually eats into our soul until we are unable to even recognise ourselves when we get into a fight or shout at our lover or even smash our phones out of anger.
Masking entails the deception of others into believing what we want them to believe about us.
We also make ourselves believe what we want to believe.
This is why when we ‘hope’ for something, we employ the use of ‘faith’ or what we think it is.
We believe that faith is the continuous thinking of us enjoying that thing which we hoped for.
If it is pizza, we begin to think of ourselves already eating the pizza while sipping watermelon juice by a lake.
But the negative is still there with the question… ‘what if?’
The goal of this, however, is to save us from outright depressive feelings when we do not get that which we have hoped for.
This is because we can have all the positive thinking of flying from Ghana to Lesotho for holidays this month and still not be able to until maybe next month or longer.
We can be optimistic about finishing a book or reading ten books in a month but there is that thin line where optimism becomes reality.
This line is called ‘truth’. This truth is what we run from when we put on our masks.
It is what we bury when we are indulged in self-deceit.
This is what we conceal when we deceive others into believing what we want them to believe about us and our intentions.
A lot of people want to maintain a positive outlook both in mind and heart. This is why motivational speakers thrive.
But the simple way to do this is to focus on the truth of who we really are.
We need ‘emotional honesty’ in all of our dealings and thoughts.
We must free ourselves of the burden of deceit and tear off the masks.
The problem with deception – either of self or others – is that it cuts us away from the streams of growth.
We deceive someone that we are exceedingly loving but we are not and by so doing, we have lost that opportunity to learn to love.
When we are confronted about our claim to love – for example – especially when we behave in ways that do not project love, we become defensive.
We blame our partner for ‘pushing us to anger’ and for ‘triggering the demon within’.
We become abusers and blame the abused for the preceding action.
These would be prevented by focusing on the truth.
We must appear as we are; broken or healed.
If we need help, we must appear so and if we can offer help then we must likewise appear so.
Not everyone is sad neither is everyone in good health.
Telling people, you are well when you are ill will not make you instantly cured.
You still have to rely on medical advice and drugs.
Having a positive mindset is not the exclusion of pessimism but a combination of both.
This is the only way to preserve the positive mindset or thoughts and attitudes amidst the turbulent forces of life.
We must live in harmony with our pains, fears, joys, doubts, and hope.
We must appreciate that all these make us who we are and we could be less without them.
This way, we can be hopeful about winning a car with alloy rims on a lottery draw.
But we stand up from the chair of positivity and open that door and allow negativity in.
We offer it a chair and offer it coffee. Then it will say, ‘what if…?’
Then we would have a conversation about the possibility of losing the draw and what we can do next.
From there, it becomes a goal and we plan towards it. With the ‘what if’, we can say… ‘If I do not win it, I will save money to buy one.’
This is a far better result than leaving negativity locked out.
Because when we do not win, we sink into a sea of depression, self-doubt and become inferior to ourselves.
Finally, creation is like a story, everything in existence is ‘being’ in purpose and ‘being’ with purpose.
Either it is humans, the solar system, or coffee beans, everything that exists fulfills a purpose or more.
It can be both good or bad just like our actions can either be good or bad.
Therefore, we must learn to fill our minds with this simple thought; that everything is both good and bad and nothing is bad completely.
We must live in the truth of our reality and identity.
We must paint the picture of the future we hope for and work towards it.
But we must never forget to open that door to the still voice that asks… ‘what if?’
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anthony Onugba is a project management professional with experience spanning from the creative, ICT, and development sectors. He has coordinated projects with funders such as OSIWA, European Union, German Embassy (Abuja), Ford Foundation, Mercy Corps Nigeria, Perspectivity (Holland), MacArthur Foundation, Culture at Work Africa, among others. He also consults for various Non-Governmental Organizations and facilitates workshops on Conflict Management and Prevention, Leadership, communication, Peacebuilding, Creative Writing and Film.
Anthony has also worked in several organisations. These include AIICO Insurance PLC, ChamsSwitch Limited (a subsidiary of CHAMS PLC), Lux Terra Leadership Foundation, and the African Writers Development Trust (AWDT). He holds a certificate in film production and directing, IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL), project management, and computer studies.
Anthony is the Founder of Writers Space Africa (WSA) and the African Writers Development Trust, which he currently runs. He is the brain behind the annual African Writers Conference and the annual African Writers Awards. He is a multi-genre writer with works spanning poetry, prose, drama, and children’s literature. He has authored seven books which include Mixed Emotions (2005), Reflections (2010), The Chronicle of Christ (2011), Amanda’s Crime (2015), and Lavender Tales of the Summit (2021). Some of his articles have been published in national newspapers and on his website.
Anthony is currently the Vice-Chairman of the Association of Nigerian Authors (Abuja Chapter). He is an animal and nature lover and a star-gazer. He loves to walk in the rain, kiss animals and go mountaineering.
EDITOR: Comfort Nyati, SDB