This positive thinking movement pf the 1980’s has lulled us into falsely believing that it’s possible to never have a negative thought. If we believe the illusion that we can be positive all the time, when we do inevitably have a negative thought, instead of brushing it off, we could use it to judge ourselves and make it worse than it needs to be in a negative spiral.
One of my mentors Dr John Demartini, has done over 20 years of research across many different disciplines and he describes a consistent theme amongst all of science and theology; that is a harmonizing balance between positive and negative. It makes sense, doesn’t it? On the macro level; a positive and negative magnetic pole across the whole Earth, on the micro level, cells continuously being created and destroyed. He says that this harmonizing balance of positive and negative is consistent across all things in all moments of time. There will always be positive and negative thoughts to maintain the balance, and harmony of the Universe.
So if it is impossible to get rid of the negative thoughts what do we do about them? I have been thinking about this a lot, because a lot of my work helps my clients “release” negative thoughts. What actually happens in those instances, is that an event, past or future memory that a person perceives as negative, actually does have harmonizing positive benefits; learnings or lessons that are not evident from the beginning. In my specialized hypnotic processes my clients find the positive lessons and resources, balancing the event and releasing the negative feelings and emotional stuck-ness. It’s absolutely true that my clients walk in feeling negative and stuck and walk out feeling like they are more positive, calm and balanced.
Negative thoughts can be very useful. If you never had any negative thoughts, you would never feel any desire to improve, learn, grow or better your situation. It is a negative thought, a dissatisfaction with the status quo, a yearning for something more, better, greater that creates the desire and the spark for change. If there is no dissatisfaction, and you are content, why would you work through the pain of changing? This happens a LOT as people get closer and closer to their ideal weight. The pain of being overweight diminishes, and people feel much more content with their body and situation, this is when old habits can creep back in, leading to the weight gain and yo-yo.
When specific negative thoughts are paired with a mindset of personal power and self-responsibility the negative thought will either be brushed off as insignificant or become a catalyst for growth and positive change.
When generalized negative thoughts (cognitive distortions) are paired with a victim mindset then the negative thought can add to a spiral of despair and hopelessness. A victim mindset is one that puts the power over your life in the hands of other people or things. You’ll notice this in excuses “I can’t do it because… the weather, the economy, my family, no time, etc.”
Of course no-one is ever always totally powerful and no-one is ever totally in victim, there is a balance! However we can strive for personal power through acceptance of ourselves and building empowering beliefs about our ability to change and grow regardless of the situation. Personal power begins with striving to take responsibility for yourself, your actions and results at all times. When you do that then your power comes back into your hands.
Some psychologists have estimated that we have somewhere between 60,000-90,000 thoughts per day. If you were to imagine your thoughts as tiny leaves on a fast flowing river… What’s the point of grabbing onto one leaf and hanging onto it, there are plenty more thoughts where that one came from. Practice accepting it and letting it go. You can minimize the negative thoughts by saying “Oh that’s just another thought…”
Affirmations work by adding in new “positive” leaves into your stream, with the hope that they outweigh or balance the negative ones, this does absolutely work to help empower you when you do it with discipline and repetition, however can be a long and arduous task if it is the only method you are using for change. If some negative thought keeps coming around, examine it and look deeply for the facts, then use the facts as a catalyst for positive action.
What has been your experience?
Have you had problems trying to “think positive”?
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