Lesson 14: Ignore your negative thoughts

Why is it so damn hard to believe the good stuff?

Everywhere I go, people are talking about all the things they fear will or won’t happen. Myself included. It’s like we’ve all been so disappointed by setbacks, heartbreak and loss – we can only see that path happening over and over again. And because that’s what we believe, that’s what often happens. It’s a vicious self-fulfilling prophecy.

I find it incredibly challenging to believe the best will happen. I feel foolish for hoping or wanting something that I don’t have full control over. My guard is constantly up.

With all of my spiritual training and mindset, I KNOW that where you put your energy is where your life goes. Our thoughts and feelings are like the rudder on our boat of life. Where we point them, we go. If you focus on what you WANT, you have a much better chance getting it. So why is it still so hard for me to do that?

Apparently, we are hardwired to focus on potential disaster. Elisha Goldstein, PhD explains in Huffington Post:

“It’s been well established that our brains have an automatic negativity bias. In the animal kingdom the magic rule was pay attention to danger or you’ll be lunch. Those people whose minds were not primed to immediately target danger didn’t pass their genes on through the evolutionary chain. So our brains, over time, became more deeply ingrained with the bias toward focusing on threats and negativity.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elisha-goldstein-phd/negativity-bias_b_1314990.html

Ohhhh – so THAT’S why I can’t stop thinking I’m going to end up sad and alone, with 12 cats.

So what can we do to change this? Well the start seems to be simply recognizing that we’re doing this, and shifting our focus to what we DO want. Over and over again.

I have started to see these negative thoughts as weeds, and literally visualize plucking them out of my brain like a grey hair off my head. Then I “plant” a new positive thought in its place. It doesn’t always take root, and sadly it seems the things I want the most feel the least comfortable. I’m so scared to want it. I’m scared to not get it, to be disappointed or feel foolish. Again.

It’s exhausting. Especially lately, as my hopeful heart fights my doubting brain to the death – constantly, whether I’m awake or sleeping. But what are my choices? To expect the worst just doesn’t serve me – or the people I’m doubting.

So I refuse to stop trying. Even if it means pruning my mind-garden every 15 minutes. Like today. And as my brilliant (yet struggling with her own doubts) roommate says: “So you fight those thoughts, get tired and take a nap!” And keep believing the best is just around the corner.

Ok. I really hope so. But right now I need a nap.

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