CHERYL A. MAJOR: Commentary on Negative Thinking

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I’ve written about how to turn around negative thinking before. I think, given the times in which we find ourselves, a re-write and a re-issue are in order.

Negative thoughts are always out there ready to bombard you. They come at you from everywhere; TV, online, your friends, neighbors and co-workers. The news and even your favorite television shows contain negativity. You face it at work, at home, and you see enough of it online as well. It invades your life.

What if you could picture your brain as a factory that takes negative thinking as input and processes it to churn out positive thoughts? Perhaps this seems a bit weird and improbable to you, but if you can think in these terms, you may be able to use negative thinking to your advantage which would be awesome.

On your transition to factory status, a first step is to stop yourself from overreacting to what people say. When someone says something you don’t agree with, pause and take a moment to consider what it is they are saying. When you get annoyed with others, you stop listening to them and your only focus goes to how to get your point across as to why they are wrong. Instead, after he or she speaks, take a moment and consider what the message is. Lately, I realize doing this has become more of a challenge as we have become very married to our positions, both political and social.

The next step is to try and see the other person’s point of view or at least ask them to explain their position. If you have a difficult time doing this, calmly ask questions of the person making the statement. You can say you don’t understand the reason for the statement and would like to know more about why they said it. The act of explaining their statement or position my give the other person pause and may stimulate them to think more or differently about it; if not in the moment, perhaps later when they think back on the exchange.

Doing this doesn’t mean you have to agree with the other person even after you’ve asked them to explain their statement or position. However, the act of listening and considering their point of view can be transformational. You may start to challenge your belief system or you may become more comfortable with your belief system. Sometimes, you can get really focused on a belief even when the reason why you feel that way may have changed. When you start to question your beliefs, you’ll consider what others have to say more openly. It’s important not to become comfortable or stagnant with your thinking. The process of questioning will help you turn negative thoughts into positive ones just by virtue of the fact that you are taking time to process the subject or discussion rather than giving a knee-jerk response.

Negative thoughts seldom lead to belief in yourself. You’ll end up challenging what everyone says as being wrong if they don’t agree with your way of thinking. You may become bitter or angry toward others, and anger is seldom a healthy emotion. This type of thinking doesn’t make people happy. I admit I have struggled with this lately. Imagine if we all could step back from our dug-in positions and beliefs and be more open and inclusive in our thinking and points of view.

Hate and anger are exhausting, and we seem to be pretty tired lately, don’t we?

When you start to open yourself to others, you’ll learn more and be accepting of different beliefs. When this happens, you will begin to live a more positive, more enlightened life.

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