Three ways to lessen negative thinking.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “Most folks are about as happy as they want to be.”
Unfortunately, studies have discovered that as much as 80 percent of our thoughts are negative, and 95 percent are repetitive.
In one fascinating bit of research, Robert W. Schrauf, Associate Professor of Applied linguistics at Penn State, asked people in Chicago and Mexico City to list the names of as many emotions they could think of spontaneously.
These words were then categorized as negative, positive or neutral.
50 percent of the words were negative, 30 percent positive and 20 percent were neutral. And this observation held true across all age groups and cultures suggesting that this a human tendency shared world-wide in all cultures.
Strangely, like vultures to a carcass, we’re drawn to what hurts.
So why do we do this?
In a nutshell, we live in a broken world with broken people who are simply doing their best.
And our short-term feelings often come from this brokenness – from events that we never chose. When the world watched 9/11 take place, it didn’t decide to get angry, disgusted and confused; it immediately felt these things as it watched the towers fall.
So our immediate feelings do generate responses and beliefs.
However, our long-term feelings come from a different place.
They come primarily from what we are saying to ourselves! In other words, over the months following 9/11, my beliefs and your beliefs gradually changed because our beliefs about it changed.
This is wonderfully simplistic…, but we can apply it in three ways.
Pay attention to your habit of negative thinking
The key to breaking any habit is to first be aware of it.
When you’re actively choosing to think negatively, make a point of noticing that you are. This directs your attention back to your beliefs, and as we will see in a moment, it is primarily our beliefs that lead to our feelings.
(In fact, you’d be shocked and surprised at some of the stupid and inane beliefs all of us have sometimes.)
Admit that you ARE falling down the rabbit hole.
When you’re falling down the rabbit hole of negative thinking, take a moment and acknowledge that you are falling.
Believe me! All of us have!
You can then choose to say out-loud to yourself: “Wow, I am falling!” (Or whatever words fit.)
And then pause a moment and with kindness, acknowledge the truth of feeling powerless or feeling stuck inside your negative beliefs.
This does NOT mean to ruminate on your negative thoughts. For the most part, ruminating on the negative stuff in our lives simply digs us deeper in a rabbit hole of self-recrimination.
Choose to give yourself new messages
Then choose to say “no” to your mind’s inclinations to ruminate on negative stuff, just as we say no to a child who’s doing something that will harm her.
(And again, dear reader, it is a choice we can make!)
AND HERE IS THE MOST WONDERFUL PART.
When we choose to say “No!” and we choose to think differently, our minds immediately agree with us!
And the more we keep choosing to say “No!” the more our brains rewire themselves so that these new messages become WHO WE ARE!
And when can you begin thinking this new way?
Well…remember what I have told you so many times in the past; your new life began one second ago, and since there are 86,400 seconds in one day, you have 86,400 new opportunities for a new life every…single…day!
ALL YOU NEED TO DO IS TAKE THEM!
Steven Campbell is the author of “Making Your Mind Magnificent.” His seminar “Taming Your Mind, Unleashing Your Life” is now available online at stevenrcampbell.teachable.com. For more information, call Steven Campbell at 707-480-5507.