Understand and Transform Your Negative Thoughts
[Free meditation this week- for negative thoughts and feelings.]
I love comedy! This may date me, but my early favorites were Eddie Murphy and Chevy Chase. I’d sneak into the downstairs closet, adjacent from our only TV in the house, crack open the door and peer out to watch the stand-up comedy shows that my parents were watching, including Richard Pryor who largely contributed to my knowledge of the birds and the bees- if you know, you know 🙂 .
So of course I love comedy movies! But look closer and you’ll notice that what you’re laughing at is all their mishaps and misfortune. Just when it can’t get any worse, Chevy Chase falls through the roof (see National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation).
The irony is, comedy depends on moments where sh*t hits the fan in order to be funny. And I think the point is how we handle those icky moments.
Comedians turn negative (and relatable) situations into something we can laugh at. That in itself, has always amused me. It reminds me that there’s always a flipside; another way to look at it.
The other side of negativity: No, it’s not the bright side!
I’m not talking about forcing yourself to see the bright side, because we all know it’s not that simple.
But everybody knows there’s two sides of a coin. There’s two sides to every story. And sometimes it’s enough to know that there’s more than one way to see your situation.
Perhaps you’re feeling bad…angry, jealous, upset, sad, fearful, and you just view it as “bad”. But I promise you, there is another side to that emotion. That emotion is probably trying to help you, protect you, or let you know it’s time to do something different.
It’s a sign, like a stop sign seems bad when you’re late, but it’s a good sign so that you don’t run into another car and traffic can remain orderly.
Contrary to positive versus negative, there is no right way or wrong way to see something. There is no good or bad emotion, but only if we perceive it that way. This is how LIMITED beliefs get entrained in our brain.
Why doesn’t change feel good?
When we learn something new or we begin to change, we hope it will make a positive difference in our lives. We hope it will make us feel good. But the truth is, when we start something, even if it’s for our health or wellness or to improve ourselves, it’s a lot like learning to drive a car.
We have to think about how to do it and it feels awkward. We can feel like it’s overwhelming and get frustrated that we’re not learning fast enough. But we keep going, and sooner or later driving a car feels more natural and we feel more confident.
We have to get used to both good and bad feelings motivating us. Yes, even bad feelings are powerful motivators. If we always felt good and confident, what would we need to do? We’d sit around and just feel good and confident. But that’s not how we’re supposed to live our lives.
What is negativity telling you?
When you were a kid, you grew up accustomed to listening to your parents who likely had their own narrow view of the world and even well-meaning parents can sound critical and authoritative at times so your inner critic can dominate and become your default programming.
You weren’t born with negative things to say about yourself- babies are born thinking they’re the only thing in the world. The negative things we say about ourselves are learned.
Next time you have something bad to say about yourself, ask yourself where that comes from? Who first said that to you? When did you first feel that way?
“Train” your brain:
It’s not whether you see the negative or not, it’s HOW MUCH of the whole picture you see.
You can feel like you’re doing great in a relationship, but that good feeling can mask some bad things about the other person and eventually the truth of the relationship comes out in a bad way, despite you having all those good feelings about it early on.
Try: There’s an inner-voice training you can do. It involves letting your inner critic or negative thought play out. Often we get short bursts or the same thought over and over. Usually a quick alarm of worry or panic or criticizing, but generally the same thing every time that pops up. We replay that without ever completely hearing it out. This is why journaling is helpful too!
When you think, “I’m no good…” Explore that more. Ask yourself, “And what else?” Hear it out.
You may think you’re ruminating, but notice how it tends to be just one thought or type of thought playing over and over.
Sometimes, when you extend and listen to what else comes after that first thought, then it can actually tell you some valuable information so that you may come to see the whole picture.
Instead of hearing your negative voice/critic within, challenge the inner critic! Go ahead, give me all you got! If you allow it to continue, it either offers deep insight or it gets downright silly (humorous), stops making sense or becomes inconsequential.
And remember, that voice is only a part of you. That emotion you’re feeling is only a part of you. There’s other parts or you. There’s many more emotions you’ll feel so one or two are very inconsequential.
The inner critic is like the pompous know-it-all at the party. He/she starts talking and when nobody challenges them or asks them to elaborate, that person becomes the smartest person in the room. Yikes! So we’re often letting our inner critic run the show or be the dominant person in our head because no other part of us challenges it.
If your inner citric was a jerk on Facebook, you’d ignore it or put those fingers to the keyboard in defense like your life depended on it!
There are many parts of you that include many thoughts and emotions. Not one part, thought, or emotion matters more than another. The goal is to help them work in harmony together.
The following is a meditation and guided process for self-discovery. Explore both your negative and positive thoughts…
Peace and Be Well,