- Do you struggle with negative thinking?
- Does the invitation to think positively seem like a hopeless endeavor?
- Does positive thinking become another thing that you just can’t do right?
Tips on how to use positive thinking in a helpful way.
Shortly after the movies “What the Bleep Do We Know” and “The Secret” came out, I was in the worst phase of my experience with fibromyalgia. I was inundated with negative thoughts, feelings, fatigue and pain.
It isn’t helpful to use positive thinking against yourself.
It was around that time, that positive thinking was becoming popular. It was said that my thinking created my illness. People would use that against me in regard to having fibromyalgia. Like somehow it was my thoughts that created it. I felt blamed and criticized for having fibromyalgia. That wasn’t the truth. I could not think my way out of having fibromyalgia. It had a power of its own, beyond the power of my mind.
You can’t make negative thinking go away with positive thinking.
There were times when my mind was very negative, and I would try to think positively. But I just couldn’t do it. It often became a war within myself that was very stressful, and I would judge myself for being so negative. I found that by surrendering to negative episodes, having a pity party, and comforting myself, would help the negativity to pass more quickly.
And yet, it was too painful to allow the negative thinking and feelings to completely take me over. I would read inspiring things and practice being kind to myself and balance my negative thinking with positive thinking.
The real power of positive thinking is to balance the negative thoughts.
I think balance is the real power of positive thinking. Positive thoughts may never replace all the negative thoughts that come into our mind, but it can help to balance the negative thoughts with a positive perspective. I had a teacher that said that positive thinking balances the negative thinking and leads to stillness of the mind. That made sense to me. I began to notice if I was obsessing negatively about something, if I would focus on something positive, it would lessen and sometimes neutralize the negative runaway train that I was on. At other times, I had to surrender to the negative thoughts knowing that it would pass.
Use Self Inquiry
Sometimes it is helpful to understand where the negative thoughts are coming from. Perhaps a parent, teacher or sibling said something negative about you. At the time, you adopted that thought as true. You can now reevaluate that choice and ask yourself if you truly want to believe that about yourself. You can choose what you believe. You can chose to think positively about yourself and let go of the negative beliefs that you adopted as a child.
Be more aware of your thoughts.
Creating the intention to think positively also helps us to become more aware of our thoughts and . . . especially our negative thoughts. That can be painful. Especially when we just want the negative thoughts to stop. It has been said that our negative thoughts and feelings are simply our old conditioning coming out. By becoming more aware of our negative thoughts, we have a greater choice in how we think. The negative thoughts might come up, but you have the choice as to whether or not to believe them. To not believe them might feel difficult at first, but over time it becomes easier. By just acknowledging them, they lose power over you.
Think of a glass filled with water right up to the top. The water represents the negative thoughts stored in your ‘data base’. Then you drop a pebble, which represents a positive thought, in the glass and a negative thought spills out. As you drop in each pebble/positive thought another negative thought/water spills out. Eventually the positive thoughts outweigh the negative thoughts.
Choose your positive thoughts consciously.
When practicing positive thinking it helps to consciously choose positive thoughts that feel true to you. You might not be able to go from thinking that you don’t like yourself to I love myself in one fell swoop. But you could each day, make a list of 1 thing that you like about yourself, one thing that you did really well, and one thing that you appreciate about someone else. If you practice that each day, you will be adding weight to the positive side and feel good in the process. It will also teach your mind to look for the good. Which might be a new healthy habit!
Don’t use positive thinking as a weapon against yourself. But use it as a tool, to help balance the negative experiences, feelings and thoughts. Use it as a way to rescript your old beliefs into new beliefs. Always be compassionate with yourself and understand it is a process, not an event. In that way, it can become a tool for growth and evolution.
Suggested contemplation for this week.
- Watch your mind this week.
- What is the percentage of negative thoughts vs positive thoughts?
- Notice if you are judging yourself for your negative thoughts.
- Find some positive quotes or sayings that help you to feel uplifted. Read them a few times each day.
- Each night think of one thing that you appreciate about yourself, one thing that you did well during the day and one thing that you appreciate about someone else.
- Practice self-compassion for being human and learning a new skill.
- Notice if this helps balance the negative thoughts without going to war with them.
- Share your questions and experiences with this if you like.
May you find balance and inner peace.