- Are YOU a Positive Thinker?
There are many who swear by the power of Positive Thinking. They ‘walk their talk’ and seem to be able to always look and live on the bright side of life. There are others who ‘talk the talk’ of positive thinking who are always saying how good and how important it is to be positive about everything. And yet it’s obviously not working for them as they frequently lapse into a faintly negative observation or evaluation. Possibly because they can’t yet tell the difference between ‘the positive’ and ‘the negative’ or they are not aware when they are not being as positive as they think!
And then there are the skeptics who pooh pooh all this positive thinking stuff as ‘fluff’, as pie in the sky, as nothing more than unhappy people trying to make themselves happier because someone convinced them it was the right thing to do.
Then there are those who think they are positive thinkers but don’t realise they are not. They are a little like those who say they are vegetarian but still eat fish, or even a little white meat…but only occasionally of course! If any of the following behaviours are still in our ‘behavior repertoire’, even just occasionally, they are the signals that we are still not authentic positive thinkers.
We can’t be a Positive Thinker as long as we are CRITICAL. To criticize is to attack. It is an intention to highlight what, in one’s own personal perception, was wrong/bad/incompetent etc. And thereby hangs the clue - ‘ones personal perception’ – for as long as we are creating such negative perceptions, no matter how much or how hard we try to justify their ‘trueness’ we are not able to ‘think’ positively.
If there is only the slightest trace of ENVY towards another it would be difficult to be positive as we create a subtle resentment towards those who seem to have more of what we want.
If we are ATTACHED to anything or anyone it means there will be the presence of the fear of loss or damage which triggers the ‘what if something bad happens’ mental scenario, which is, by definition, negative thinking.
If we are UPSET with anyone it usually means we are creating the other in a negative light in our own mind so it’s not possible to be positive until the light of our consciousness has changed.
Even DISAPPROVING of someone, albeit in the form of a quiet ‘tut tut’, will harbor a negative thought, while BLAMING always incorporates some form of negativity and any level of COMPLAINING includes a negative perception of the situation.
It all makes this ‘positive thinking’ business quite a challenge. It seems it’s just not so easy to look on the bright side of all that has happened, all that is happening and all that will happen in life! Or is that a negative thought in itself?
Yet we all know how negative thinking easily ‘triggers’ feelings of peacelessness and hopelessness within oneself, and animosity and even hatred towards others. So how can we keep our thoughts positive so that we don’t upset our self or project our emotional displeasures on to others?
Here are seven possible practices that may help us on the way.
1 Consciously seek and ‘see’ the benefit in all events
This is of course the ‘silver lining’ principle. But instead of waiting for it to show up we go hunting for the benefit, for the gains, for the positive aspects of any event near or far, personal and international. It could even be called a ‘creative intention’ as we deliberately look for the upside. That’s not to ignore the downside which may be called an utter disaster by others. It’s just that it makes sense and a good habit to be perceptually creative and both find and focus on that silver lining regardless of how flimsy it may be. They do say it’s good for our health too!
2 Cease ‘identifying’ with others predicament and their suffering
It’s not easy not cry with others, especially as the media delivers stories of others suffering so blatantly and intensely. But if we do we absorb and live out the pain of others then, without realizing it, another habit sets in and soon we may even start looking for reasons to indulge it. Others victimhood becomes our victimhood in an instant. Definitely not a positive way to embrace life!
3 Be ever ready to let go
Loss is probably the most common reason to think negatively about past and future. Yet loss is inevitable in every area of all our lives. No need to plan for it but it’s certainly OK to prepare for it by accepting that it’s ALL got to go some day. It frees us from those worried and anxious thoughts today if we are ready to be parted from anything and everything that we hold precious tomorrow! It’s highly unlikely to happen and certainly most unlikely to happen ALL at once. Otherwise we can easily look back on life and realise we spent too much time worrying about what the future didn’t eventually bring!
4 Never judge others harshly
We are well schooled, and many of us well practiced, in judging others negatively. Right and wrong become good and bad which become angel and devil so fast we don’t even notice our thoughts jumping to negative conclusions about ‘the other’. Once again it becomes an auto response/reaction and breaking the habit takes practice. Being non-judgmental means we cease to condemn others for anything. It’s tough, but it gets easier when we notice the upside i.e. the benefits which include not draining our power, feeling freer and therefore happier and how our relationships generally become easier.
5 Look for the lesson and not the loss
If we can realise nothing happens TO us but everything happens FOR us we can start to make the shift from victim to master, from crying, “Why is this happening TO me?”, to thinking, “What is the lesson here FOR me?” One small perceptual shift and the world is suddenly a benevolent teacher and no longer a persecuting task master.
6 Positively encourage others and celebrate their victories
But not in the context of competition. Victory here means when others change their habits and therefore their character, transforming old habits like blaming and complaining, being proactive after a lifetime of being reactive, finding compassion where before there was condemnation. These kinds of victories are always worthy of quiet public celebration.
7 Check, challenge and change your belief system
All our thoughts have their roots in some belief within our subconscious. These are the beliefs and perceptions that we assimilated when we were knee high to that grasshopper. Change our beliefs and we change our thinking. But first we have to find the beliefs that are generating our negative thoughts. Even then, we believe our beliefs so deeply that we want to hold on to them even when we know they are responsible for our negative thoughts and stressful feelings. A few examples of such beliefs might include the following - the world is a dangerous place – it’s survival of the fittest out there – others are responsible for what I feel – you gotta get as much stuff as you can while you can – you have to deserve to be happy – worrying is caring …are only a few popular beliefs which fire negative thoughts into our minds at the touch of a subconscious button!
That said, in truth, even a belief in positive thinking can result in the negative. If someone asks you not to think of pink elephant you can be almost certain that one instant later, appearing in your mind, will be a pink elephant! Stop thinking negatively!
Question: Which of the above seven inner practices would be the best one to start your PT Practice? Reflection: Why do you think it’s so hard not to indulge in negative thoughts? (go as deep as you can)Action: Pick three particularly challenging relationships this week and practice one of the above in each relationship.
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