We all have heard of the Power of Positive Thinking but how often are we really practicing it?
I remember a few years ago talking with my Coach about my fear of what could happen. As I began to list them he paused me and asked, “Why are you thinking about what you don’t want?
I interrupted him with a frustrated declaration, ” I am not thinking, I’m explaining my problems!”
He smiled and closed his eyes, his way of asking me to sit with it. I followed his lead and realized that in this present moment, none of what I was telling him was happening. Secondly, he was correct, I was thinking about what I didn’t want!
It was around this time that I got honest and saw how I was not practicing positive thinking to transform my life. Truth is, I really believed I was a positive person and many of the people in my life would agree with that assessment. But while I wasn’t overtly hostile inside, the content of my thoughts swirled around worry, excuses and scenes where I was defending myself. No coincidence that a lot of my relationships, especially personal, reflected these same dramas. Once i saw it, I realized that these stories were causing me to feel the very emotions that I was blaming on those other people. I couldn’t see the real cause- my thinking- until I was ready to stop feeling sick and tired of the pain these thoughts were causing. .
Thoughts are contracted forms of pure consciousness. In fact, without thoughts we have no experience except pure consciousness. If you’d like to test this, take a pause and examine what exists between any two thoughts- nothing. But while that space may be no thing, it is filled with energy; the energy of pure potential that we use to experience our own life. As we entertain our thoughts, emotions begin to form inside the mind/body. I love the word emotion. It embodies its definition within itself so perfectly- emotion= energy in motion. Thoughts+Emotions lead to Behaviors and the three together create our experience called Life. When we truly practice watching our thoughts, we learn to easily drop or dismiss the negative ones, embrace or repeat the positive ones and then we arrive at that pristine point, aptly named the still-point between each thought; and merge into pure potential. When we stay in pure potential inside, we merge into the present moment outside and see the pure potential for dynamic creations in our life. No one has to tell us how to create what we want, we simply remember how to do this from childhood.
Once I was working with a client who came into the experience of pure potential through her children. She was a single Mom with two girls. One snowy Saturday morning, her daughters got up early, broke out the sleds and took to the hill next door. My client sat down to pay some bills. It started out fine, but after an hour my client noticed an overdraft on her account. She began fretting over how she could have made this mistake and what this would mean for her finances for the rest of the month. To her surprise the door opened and the cold wind directed her attention to her daughter covered in snow.
“Mom,” the daughter yelled, “come outside and sled with us! We are having so much fun!”
The Mom turned her gaze back to the overdraft statement and frowned, “Not now sweetheart, Mommy’s doing the bills.”
“You’ve been here for over an hour, aren’t you done yet?” Her daughter challenged her while shaking off her boots.
“No,” the Mom began to get frustrated, ” I found an error in my check book and I’m afraid we are going to not have enough money this month.”
“Oh” her nine year old said while she took off her jacket. “Well, what can you do about it today?”
“What?” the Mother asked absentmindedly.
“It’s Saturday. You can’t do anything about it now. And we have enough food and money for the weekend, so why are you staying inside, just worrying about it? Why don’t you come out and play?” The little girl asked as she walked over to the Mom and touched her hand.
The Mom looked up in frustration, ready to raise her voice at her daughter. Then she paused and closed her eyes, took a deep breath in and recognized the wisdom in her daughter’s advice. The Mom recognized how she had spent the last hour, dancing with one worrisome thought after another and nothing had changed. She closed her checkbook, threw down her pen and hugged her daughter. The rest of the day she spent sledding and playing with her kids. And on Monday, she called the bank and discovered it was an error in the Bank’s records. She was not overdrawn at all. When that Mom came into her appointment that week she was truly grateful that she did not spend a whole Saturday worrying about what ultimately wasn’t even true.
I work with three practices to shift myself and my clients out of negative thoughts.
1. If it feels bad the thought is to blame. We all go through times in our day when we feel “bad”. If it lasts more than ten minutes and there isn’t a clear problem to address, then we are believing a thought that is the cause for the persistent negative emotion. This is when we substitute a new thought in. Once we see what our primary litany of negative thoughts are- worry, anger, sadness, victim-hood, etc. we can begin to substitute new thoughts into the mix. For instance, if we worry about money we can substitute an old favorite of mine- More money is pouring in everyday in every way! If our thoughts focus on jealousy or anger at others we can substitute- I’m grateful for all the great good fortune in my life!
2. Step up your game! Once we start feeling and seeing the benefits of substituting positive thoughts for negative thoughts, we can begin to make them part of our daily workout. We prioritize eating well, exercising and relaxing everyday why not set aside time to practice lifting some positive thoughts. If we are driving, turn the radio off and start repeating your positive thoughts. When we are waiting in line, preparing our meal or even sitting on the toilet, what better place to practice our positive thinking.
3. Practice Makes Permanent! How did we get into the thoughts we are now struggling with? Habit. We were taught these thinking habits by well meaning but uneducated people. Most of us spent more time with our elementary school teachers than we did with our parents; and what was the quality of your fifth grade teacher’s thoughts? If habits got us into our current state, new habits will lead us out. Remember, knowing about positive thinking and actually practicing thinking positively is akin to trying to see in the dark and turning on the light. You just won’t know the difference until you do it!
Lastly, this practice works best if you have support. Find a few friends, talk with your partner or even kids and ask if they will set aside time during the day to practice with you. You can text each other your favorite positive thought, leave Post Its with their favorite thought on the bathroom mirror, refrigerator or even on their pillow with a rose or chocolate kiss. The more you practice substituting positive thoughts for negative, the more positive events will happen in your life. If you need support for your practice, contact me and I’ll be glad to support you.
One final note, some thoughts require deeper inquiry to ferret out. I offer individual and group sessions both locally and online to teach Inquiry for this very purpose. Contact me to learn more about HeartPath Inquiry!
Enjoy the great good fortune that comes into your life from practicing positive thinking!