Negative thoughts plague the most upbeat of us at some point in time. Harmful mantras or a pervasive set of thoughts swirling around so deep within the unconscious, disguising themselves as beliefs, threaten undermine our entire well-being. “We create our own unhappiness. The purpose of suffering is to help us understand we are the ones who cause it.” Folk singer Willie Nelson’s opinion on the idea of folks being their own worst enemy is certainly food for thought. How many of you can identify with any of the following common & highly unconstructive brain chatter?
Being me is simply isn’t good enough.
I don’t deserve good things to happen in my life.
I don’t like myself/image.
Everyone has it together but me.
No one cares about me.
I’m not capable of making my dreams come true.
People don’t like me.
I’m incapable of making positive change in my life.
If any of these resonate with you, one of the most important things to realize is that they are only thoughts, not truths – similar to the adage, “feelings aren’t facts.” Oprah’s contemplative ally Deepak Chopra outlines “A Freer (Happier) Way to Think” on the media mogul’s website offering various tips to upload some positivity to into the brainwaves.
Turn Negativity into Positive Action
If an obsessive thought is a cry for help—and it is—bring the help that’s asked for. You wouldn’t neglect a crying child, yet we all neglect our negative thoughts, which are the mental equivalent. Let’s say you are in a difficult situation and you start thinking, “What’s wrong with me?” or “How will I ever get out of this?” Acknowledge that you are feeling scared, which is the real event occurring in your mind. Don’t push the anxiety away. Take a break and walk away from the immediate stress. Sit quietly and take some deep breaths. Do your best to center yourself.
Once you feel calm enough to address the situation, make a plan. Write down the possible steps you can take that will be positive, achievable actions. (The point here is to use the rational side of the brain rather than giving in to runaway emotion.) Once you have your list, put the positive actions in order of which to do first, second and third. Now take the first step. Turning an emotional event inside yourself into a set of rational steps is one of the best ways to rise above the level of the problem to the level of the solution.
Get a Healthy Outside Perspective
If a negative mental habit—like feeling insecure, scared or helpless—has been with you for a while, you need to check if your plan for action is workable. Seek outside validation. Go to someone you trust, preferably someone who displays the qualities you want to acquire (e.g., a firm sense of self, a lack of fear and plenty of self-reliance), and discuss the practical things you intend to do. I’m not talking about the kind of adviser who says things like “Get over it,” “Everyone feels that way” or “Poor thing.” Such statements are copouts. Seek someone who genuinely empathizes and can validate your plan to change.
Take Full Responsibility
Your mind encompasses the best of yourself and the worst. It holds the greatest promises and the greatest threats. Our minds create our reality. Once you face this fact, it can be overwhelming. We all secretly want to escape responsibility for creating the situation we find ourselves in. We don’t want to face painful truths. Change feels like risk. Our minds are used to projecting blame and judgment upon others. So much promise goes unfulfilled this way. In truth, the power to create your reality, which begins by building a mature self, opens the way to life’s greatest joys.
Develop a Higher Vision of Your Life
It would be sheer drudgery if you took responsibility for only the bad things in your life. You are also responsible for the good things. If you have a vision for yourself, you can aim higher. The good things become more meaningful because you are heading for long-term fulfillment. This is much better than a string of short-term pleasures, nice as they may be. People without a vision can amass a lot of small pleasures. This kind of immediate gratification is everywhere in our society; distractions are a multi-billion-dollar business. Look at your daily quotient of idling around the Internet, video games, channel surfing, movies, snacking, shopping, and merely hanging around.
These distractions are hangovers from adolescence, when immaturity was a natural state. They drop away when life moves on and you undertake the project of building a self. The point isn’t to become self-serious and reject having fun. The point is to aim for higher satisfactions that last. By developing a vision of what your life is about, you are asking, “Who am I?” and then turning your answer into positive actions.
For additional words of advice, peep Oprah.com.