I’ve heard so many gurus and thought leaders speak about avoiding negative thoughts, and their harm. Your negative thoughts are not all bad. True, positive thinking is a crucial part of a healthy and spportive mindset.
Let me ask you though, “How’s that workin’ out for you?”
This post focuses on the tremendous benefits you get from your negative thoughts.
While positive thinking is certainly en vogue, and it is a crucial component to a healthy and successful mindset, it can also put a lot of unnecessary stress and pressure on people. I remember listening to “The Secret” in audiobook version, and feeling like if I engaged or listened in any sort of negativity, then I was dooming myself.
WOAH! So, then I felt this pressure to be positive and happy all the time.
Now, I’m a generally and genuinely happy person, but this requirement felt forced and artificial. It felt wrong, too, because it didn’t align with my values around compassion and empathy.
So, is the popular, positive thinking, energy-to-the-universe school of thought wrong? Yes. And, no. Like so many things, balance is required.
On the yes side, what you focus on hugely affects your life. It generates how you feel in each moment. It generates your behavior, and it determines which people and situations you attract or are attracted to. Also, it determines the meaning you assign to what happens.
Issue: narly all your focusing happens unconsciously, outside your awareness. Focusing, in fact, is making internal representations. Those generate how you feel, how you behave, and so on.
When you focus on something you want, you feel good; when you focus on something you don’t want, you feel bad.
Because this happens almost entirely outside your awareness, how you do it isn’t a choice.
To avoid that danger, we think we have to watch out for it. Therefore, we focus on what we don’t want.
Focusing on what you don’t want doesn’t just make you feel bad. Your mind also sees it as an instruction to attract or create more of it. This, then, causes you to act in certain ways, and to attract or be attracted to people and situations that make it happen.
These negative instructions become shadow parts. Shadows are parts of ourselves, of being human that we’ve disowned or repressed. When we see these qualities in others, we’re triggered emotionally. Ironically, the more we repress these qualities, the more we attract people who have them.
Though we try to repress qualities or aspects of our humanity that we don’t like, we express them shadows anyway. They usually come out sideways in hidden and dysfunctional ways.
If you’ve disowned anger, you’ll express it anyway, but in an unhealthy and immature way. Others will see your anger, but you won’t. You’ll also attract other angry people, who will really bother you.
Focusing on what you don’t want creates bad feelings and attracts more of what you don’t want. Repressing qualities you think are bad or wrong causes you to express them in hidden and damaging ways. You also wind up attracting people with these qualities, and they trigger you emotionally.
Focusing on what you don’t want, or disowning what you think is negative creates harmful results only when done unconsciously. In truth, done with awareness, negative thinking eliminates itself, and, the negative results.
So how else can your negative thoughts serve you positively when you become more self-aware? Well, all negative impulses are a dissatisfaction signal. These dissatisfaction signals can spur you to change and grow in ways more authentic to you, your passions, and your purpose. The trick is you have to lean into your dissatisfaction signals, instead of avoiding or repressing them.
This all begins with awareness. All change, all growth, requires awareness. Watching your mind create your life is one of the most fascinating things you’ll ever do. Awareness is truly, TRULY, the only superpower you’ll ever need.