I’m going to do something a bit unusual for this post. If you regularly visit this site, you’ll know that I do my best to promote positive thinking, and focusing on God’s truth about us. However, today I’m going to go in a different direction and promote….gasp….negative thoughts???
No, I haven’t become a hypocrite and say one thing and act in an opposite manner (although I am sometimes guilty of that). I haven’t changed my mind and decided that what I’ve been reading and writing about is untrue. Instead, I am applying some very helpful information I’ve studied, sharing it with you, and hoping that it can help all of us.
I’ve written several articles about how harmful negative thoughts can be. If we think negative thoughts, they ultimately play out into negative situations in our lives. I’ve also read and shared different techniques to deal with these thoughts. One very helpful one is the idea of re-framing. This idea is that whenever you notice a negative thought, immediately catch it and replace it with a positive thought. It can be any positive thought, or one opposite of what you were first thinking. For example, if you catch yourself thinking that you are not worthy of something, stop and think of reasons that you ARE worthy. If you don’t feel healthy, think of what it would be like if you were healthy. Those are just some examples.
Recently, I read of a very helpful technique in dealing with negative thoughts. This has produced a great amount of mental healing and personal freedom during the first few weeks of this new year. I read the idea in Rhonda Byrne’s book, “The Greatest Secret.” Several of her books like “The Secret” and “The Magic” have had life-changing impacts on me, and this one is no exception. In fact, I think I like this one best because it is more of an application process instead of just providing information, which is exactly what I need.
Anyway, here is the technique…. one of the greatest reasons negative thoughts cause negative situations in our lives is because we tend to resist them. We know negative thoughts are harmful to us. We don’t want them. So what we do, is we fight the feelings they cause. We fight to try to rid our minds of the thoughts. What happens when we do this though, is we add fuel to their fire.When we resist something, it just causes more if it. Even though we’re trying to do good and rid ourselves of the negative thoughts and feelings, we are doing more harm because we are still remaining focused on the negative situations.
The freedom bringing suggestion given in the book, is to welcome the negative thoughts instead of resisting them. At first, I disagreed because this seems counterproductive. So we’re just letting these harmful negative thoughts rule our minds? No. We are just saying they are welcome. Now, we can add a little more to this. Ms. Byrne says that when we do this instead of resisting, we take away the power they have on us. Eventually, the negative feelings go away. To add to this, she says that any of these same negative feelings that have built of over time also gradually disappear.
Again, I was a bit skeptical at first, but I decided to give this a try. It didn’t even take a day to realize the truth of this. One of the greatest negative emotions I feel is guilt. I am often slow to act, fall short of my potential, and I regularly feel like I could and should do more for people. As I thought about this, I realize how much this has built up in my mind over time. I don’t like to feel guilty, so I fight it. The result is usually more of it! So at that moment, I decided it was OK for me to feel guilty. However, what happened after that was even more amazing. As I accepted the feeling of guilt and that it was OK to feel that way, I started to automatically re-frame the negative thoughts (the technique I discussed earlier). I felt God speaking to me. I felt like He was saying that the guilt that I was holding onto was just my own thought, and it wasn’t His. I was reminded of several Bible verses to back that up, like there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. Like the fact that every sin I’ve ever committed, and every mistake I’ve ever made has already been forgiven because of His death on the cross. On and on I was provided these positive reminders.
I then tried this with other negative thoughts too. I don’t often get angry, but one day there were just several things my wife was doing that were just bothering me. I’m sure you’ve never had that happen to you, but it was happening with me. And it’s not like she was doing it on purpose. Anyway, I caught the negative thoughts as they were happening. Normally, I would try to fight it because I don’t want to think negatively of her. However, I instead welcomed the thoughts and allowed myself to be bothered. After only a few minutes, the negativity lightened, and we ended up having a very nice conversation about something. Lengthy conversations between us don’t happen like they did before, but this was a very pleasant one. What was happening is that, as I accepted and allowed these negative thoughts, I actually felt more positive!
I am realizing more that thoughts and feelings are just that. They are not who I am. More importantly, they don’t control me. I control them. And it is important that I control them because, even though I say they don’t control me, the quality of my thoughts and feelings ultimately controls the quality of my life and circumstances on the outside.
I share this with you because it has been very helpful to me. The process of simply allowing the negative thoughts without resisting them and without letting them control me and determine who I am has been extremely enlightening and liberating. I challenge you to try this as well. Don’t go looking for negative thoughts. However, when you do notice that you are thinking or feeling negative, make yourself aware of it, and welcome the thoughts. Know that it’s OK to have those thoughts, as long as you don’t allow them to overtake you. If you’re like me, you will notice some mental counter arguments. You will feel a release of that negative thought and others like it that have built up in the past. Then those negative clouds eventually disappear, allowing the great light in you to shine uninhibited. That is definitely something to think and feel positive about. Enjoy the blessings 🙂