What is Negative Thinking?
Thoughts bombard us all day long like the steady stream of uninteresting commercial messages on AM radio. Almost all radio spots are just noise, irrelevant and unimportant. The same is true with our own thoughts. A few of these thoughts are prompts for action, interesting points to be pondered, and encouraging messages to heed. But most are not. Most of what whirls through the busy, active mind is a smattering of the demotivating, distracting and the unnecessary. Finding a positive thought for some people seems as difficult as trying to buy a few vegetables in a candy store. In the nervous and apprehensive mind there lies a huge array and an almost limitless variety of undesirable thoughts.
But of all the countless negative thoughts, there is one that I want to warn you about. This thought, when activated, poisons the mind, blocks your insight, and erodes common sense. It’s insidious power delicately corrupts good judgement and brutally assassinates hope. Here it is: “positive thinking won’t work for me.” This sweeping negativity kills forward progress and keeps you stuck and locked in misery. And why bother getting out, getting up, or trying again: that wouldn’t work either. This is the kung fu master of all negativity. It is seductively simple, yet devastatingly powerful. It must be remedied.
Difficult to Decode
Most negative thoughts are thinly disguised concerns and kindhearted sounding apprehensions. At first glance, these thoughts appear protective and helpful, as though no one would fail to heed their warning. “Sit down, before you fall down.” “You’re skating on thin ice.” You’re just asking for trouble.” But behind the illusion of caution is something more sinister. “You’re going to fall down, fall through the ice, and land in big trouble! You’re stupid and incapable of doing anything right.” Once you buy the lie, negativity seems to harden quickly, like fast setting cement. The clever mind then accepts the lie as truth and stubbornly refuses to surrender its misperception.
Scan for Positives
There is a way to identify the lie and escape its grasp. Learn to scan for positives, ignore and dismiss the negatives. Thoughts entering your mind are both positive and negative. You could also make a case for neutral as well. These thoughts pile up by the bushel and must be sorted. The other day, in the grocery store, I bought 5 pears. Before me, in the store was a waist high display that contained several hundred pears. I picked five. I saw over two hundred, looked at twenty, and selected a few. Thoughts, too, must be sorted. Negative thoughts can be identified, challenged or just ignored. Most of the pears in the pile received no attention whatsoever. Find the few appealing positive thoughts in the pile and act on them. You can quickly ignore the negative and focus your attention on the positive. Nurture those thoughts, choose to dwell on them, and with growing self-confidence, turn them into actions that will strengthen your recovery.
Recovery is a journey. Enjoy the Ride!