Banish negative thinking

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Portrait of Gwen Randall-Young
If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought. – Peace Pilgrim

It is not what is happening in our lives that determines our mood or sense of wellbeing, but rather the way we think about what is happening. The marathon bombing in Boston was horrific, but the people of Boston turned it around; it was more about “Boston strong,” solidarity with others and not letting tragic events dim their vision of a bright future. The dancer who lost her foot plans on dancing again with her prosthesis!

Notice they did not focus on the negative or spend a lot of energy complaining about what happened. Now think of your life and the people around you. Few people have had to deal with something so profoundly challenging, but notice the amount of negativity and complaining you hear from others – or even from yourself.

Negative thinking seems normal; after all, we’re just stating the obvious, right?

Actually, no. What we are stating is our judgement or criticism of what is happening. Others may see it or choose to view it differently. There is no true external reality, only our interpretation of it.

“But that’s really how I feel!” you might protest. Okay, let’s say that’s true. How does it serve you to keep verbalizing it? Whether it is about an acquaintance, boss, spouse, the government or the weather, verbalizing complaints only brings you down. It is taking the negative thought, stating it aloud and spreading the negative energy.

This is not to say we should bury our heads in the sand and be oblivious to real problems. Here is the key point: talking about it repeatedly does nothing but make you and your listeners feel bad. Either take some positive action to change the situation or find something positive to talk about.

What if the negative thinking is about yourself? This is actually even more damaging. Positive thoughts are like stepping on the gas and accelerating forward. Negative thoughts are like slamming on the brakes or going in reverse. What we think is what we will create. If you want to do something and then come up with reasons why it will never work, it is like typing a great idea and then pressing delete.

Focusing on the negative is toxic and poisons our inner environment. Dwelling on past hurts, misfortunes or missed opportunities takes us right back there and often causes us to define ourselves in terms of the past. We should be focusing on what is good in our lives and what we want to create.

How we think affects our bodies as well. Negative thoughts, worry and anger cause the body to release stress hormones and suppress our immune system. Positive thoughts have the opposite effect.

When you listen to music, you want it to be something you like. Good music can calm us or make us feel like dancing. If the music is irritating, we cannot turn it off fast enough. Our thoughts are like music playing – either in the forefront of our consciousness or always running in the background.

Life is much more pleasant when we turn off the negative thoughts that are so jarring to our being and allow more upbeat melodies to add to our quality of life. We only have one, you know.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, Deep Powerful Change hypnosis CDs and new Creating Healthy Relationships series, visit www.gwen.ca. See display ad this issue.

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