3 Ways To Embrace Perceived Negative Thinking
Funny title, eh? Before getting all offended and waging war on me or this blog article, just hear me out. While I don’t believe in positive or negative thinking per say, I do believe that there are certain ways of being that support us in living the kind of Life that we prefer individually. Before we delve into getting rid of negative thinking, first I believe that we have to embrace this part of ourselves….the animal part of ourselves.
As my Sifu says, “We have to embrace our mediocrities before we can realize our excellence.” And I have found this to be true in my Life experience. Sure, many of us want to be millionaires, but we must first embrace where we are now and how we are in terms of money. Only then can we begin moving past it. And I believe the same goes for positive and negative thinking.
He even goes so far as to say that we are not even human yet. We are in the process of becoming human beings, and one quick way to get there would be to embrace the animal side to ourselves; the side that loves sex, power, fortune and wealth, the parts of us that get angry, that want revenge and even feels hate from time to time. After all, we are WHOLE beings~ we are not just the good stuff (if there is such a thing). We live in a Universe of light and dark, dense and not dense, preferred and not preferred, life and death. To say the Universe is only Light is to only know half the story. But I digress….
Have you ever tried stopping your thoughts? Maybe you could for a little while, but in the end, the mind just keeps going and going. Even in meditation, the thinking may slow down but from time to time, thoughts still rise. It is the nature of the mind. It is doing its’ job. I have learned from my mindfulness teacher that to try to stop your mind from wandering, or to try and stop even negative thinking is a futile process. It is like trying to stop a hundred-mile and hour train. It is nature in action, so to speak. We wouldn’t go to the plains of Africa and tell lions to stop eating other animals; who are we to do that? A lion is a lion and the mind thinks. It is nature and it is natural for lions and minds alike to do this.
The same goes for body fat. Everywhere we turn it seems that society is waging war on body fat~ we want to burn it, get rid of it, fight it, take it out in surgery, annihilate it and very few people even realize that body fat is just doing its’ job. Excess body fats’ main job is to encapsulate excess toxins in fat that the body couldn’t rid itself of in order to protect the vital organs. Dr. Barry Sears wrote a book on this and goes on to say that body fat is NOT the enemy… body fat is just doing its’ job.
So, for me the same goes for thinking negatively. Thinking isn’t the enemy, nor are negative thoughts the enemy. They become an issue when we mistake ourselves for the negative thoughts.
Often in this line of work, I have met people that do what they can to monitor their thoughts. The minute they think or say something they perceive as negative, they do what they can to quickly slurp it back up. This is a really exhausting way to go about it (and I would know because I use to be one of those who would immediately try to slurp it back up before the Universe could grasp the blasphemy that came from my thinking habits).
So if my mindfulness teacher is right and we can’t stop thinking, then how do we separate ourselves from negative thinking? How do we begin training ourselves out of it or at least create a space between us and our thoughts so that we are no longer mistaking ourselves for our negative thoughts?
Well, the first step in undertaking any new way of being is awareness. Just be aware without judgement or interpretation. Just be aware of your tendencies without trying to change it. As we become aware of and accept our negative thinking, we can then begin moving beyond it without effort.
Awareness in itself is enough, but since I am supposed to write a minimum of 800 words for my beloved Inspire.fm (ooooo that was a few extra words right there~ I’m getting closer to my target already!), I will go further with a few more PRACTICES for going beyond negative thinking:
1) The Rubberband Exercise
This practice came from the book “The One Minute Millionaire,” in which a person can put a rubber band around their wrist and pluck it really hard when they have a negative thought. I have done this years ago at the tender age of 20, but now a days I have changed the exercise a bit: the intention would not be to pluck the rubber band in order to punish yourself, but to stimulate awareness. After all, the more aware you are of how your mind thinks, the more you begin to free yourself.
This can also serve as a reminder to not mistake yourself for your thoughts. If you are however into the whole punishment thing, then go for it. I won’t judge you =P
2) Keep A Daily Journal
This is a practice that I give almost every client and partake in myself as well. Keep a journal and write in it 3 times a day. Now I know that may sound exhausting, but there is a method here that is important: first of all, we are not writing down any stories. we are merely writing down and acknowledging our thoughts and emotions WITHOUT judgment. It is easy! Take 5 minutes three times a day, preferably around meals, and just write down whatever is coming up without judgment. I really want to emphasize the WITHOUT JUDGEMENT part.
We will be surprised at how often a person says a simple phrase such as “gangam style” and minutes later we have the song playing over and over again in our minds… or worse…”I love you,” and the Barney song comes rushing in… I guess that one is applicable mostly for parents. Anywho, I don’t know what is going on in your mind, and chances are neither do you.
3) DON’T GO DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE!
Ok, I know you will anyways, most of us do. But as you begin watching and becoming aware of what you are thinking, whether positive or negative, be aware of how easy it is to go down the rabbit hole and follow your thoughts. I had a sobering realization a little while back when I realized that I was addicted to thinking…however, I have not found a 12 step program yet.
The thing is that many of us WANT to go down the rabbit hole. We want to think about that boy from highschool, or how we would be the next time we ran into that jerk who said something mean to us, or how we would appear to our future partner. If you catch yourself going down the rabbit hole, don’t make it wrong, just take a step back and watch your thoughts instead of getting caught up in them.
How can we tell if we mistake ourselves for our thoughts? Well, for one, we might be having a really great day and suddenly remember that one friend of ours who said something that perturbed us and notice that we go into emotional reaction. Mind you nothing
outside of you would have stimulated this emotional reaction; it was just a thought. Then you know you have gone down the rabbit hole.
In summary, there are many ways to begin supporting our personal growth (and I don’t mean reaching for that doughnut… put it back!), and here we only really skim the surface. So let your thoughts go; stop trying to control them. Trying to control them is like trying to control nature~ it is too much work and effort, and Life is effortless! Why make more work for ourselves? Instead, take a step back and create a space between you and your thoughts. Be aware if you are going down the rabbit hole and you are well on your way to a whole new way of being.
Because Life is Effortless,