Optimism contains the seeds of pessimism. Is it optimistic to think ‘I must not think negatively’? Win and lose are twins. You see one. You see the other. We all know it is not true that you can do anything if you try hard enough. Ever thought ‘I must not fail’?
It is natural to think negatively. We have been doing it for a long time as humans. It has kept us alive. It’s a warning. Negative news seems more interesting. If we do make a effort to think positively we will use a lot of mental energy. It’s a bit like holding back a flood. Getting rid of any thoughts is difficult and tiring. Distraction only works for a while. Ever had to wait for exam results or a medical diagnosis? Maybe being told by a boss or a partner something like ‘We need to speak soon. How about first thing tomorrow?’ The thoughts will come, the negative ones. So what are your options? Distract yourself if you can. Think positive without getting too tired. Self medicate. Meditate.
Here’s a more effective option. Just let the thoughts come….and go. You have many thousands of thoughts every day. Mostly they drift by unless you grab hold of them or give them too much attention. I remember getting a pain in my chest in the middle of the night. You can imagine the thoughts that haunted me that night. I did manage to let them warn me without overwhelming me. Next day off to the doctor. Muscle problem. Any time spent stressing would have been wasted.
So instead of optimism/pessimism, try just letting your thoughts pass by. If they are particularly helpful, keep them in your mind. If they are not helpful, let them drift by with the thousands that come and go. It’s a bit like looking out the window of a fast train. You could focus or you let the scenery pass by. You could focus on places of interest and let the rest rush by. If you need a label for this activity it is called mindfulness. Could just as easily be called mindlessness. You don’t control the thoughts. You simply decide on which ones to keep and for how long.
Try this today. If unhelpful thoughts get in your way, identify them as thoughts so they don’t take over. ‘There’s that thought again.” Imagine the thought being made of smoke and blowing away in the next breeze. See if you can’t think less. Stay with awareness without labelling. Enjoy the sight/sound/ smell/ taste/touch without giving it a name. You can enjoy many experiences without analysing them. You don’t have to know where your coffee came from to enjoy the taste. If fact the taste will disappear when you start thinking.
Try thinking less. Letting thoughts drift by. Identifying thoughts as thoughts and nothing more. Listen more without jumping to conclusions. Enjoy more.
Call me if you want help in becoming more mindful. It will help your Listening Skills, Public Speaking and calm your Busyness.
Paddy Spruce 03 9808 8990. www.paddyspruce.com.au