It can be a real challenge to stay calm and peaceful when you are being overrun by negative thoughts.
“What on earth is wrong with you? Everything you do ends up a disaster. Your life is a mess. You are such a loser.“
You feel overwhelmed, exasperated, depressed.
The thoughts consume your attention as you wrestle with them, chew them over, marinate in them.
And your fragile peace doesn’t stand a chance. In no time at all, it is extinguished—buried beneath a landslide of mental noise.
How to break free from this downward spiral of negativity and get your peace back?
To answer this question, you first have to understand why your thoughts SEEM to have so much power over you. Armed with this knowledge, you will then see why it is perfectly possible to stay calm and peaceful—even with a head full of negative thoughts.
The truth is, you that you don’t even need to get rid of them.
What you do need is a different strategy for dealing with thoughts as they arise.
What If They Weren’t Your Thoughts At All?
Where do thoughts come from?
If you were to ask most people who the thoughts in their head belong to, they would look at you as if you were nuts.
“They belong to me of course,” would be the inevitable answer.
But if you observe your mind to see where thoughts come from, you will see that they appear by themselves, apparently from nowhere. You have no idea what your next thought will be. Its appearance has nothing to do with you.
They appear by themselves, linger for a moment and disappear again.
Why do we believe they are ours?
Only through habit. And the fact that everyone else believes the same.
It Is The Mind’s Job To Churn Out Negative Thoughts
The mind is very much like a computer. The thoughts it churns out are determined by your cultural conditioning and your unique set of life experiences.
Given your background and history, your mind could not be producing thoughts other than the ones it is producing.
Your thoughts are not personal. They are part of your programming.
Negative Thoughts Have No Inherent Power To Affect Your Peace
Now we are getting to the interesting stuff!
We have seen that thoughts, positive and negative, appear by themselves out of nowhere, as a natural functioning of the mind.
So why do they affect your peace?
They affect you because you identify with them. You think there is something wrong with them being there… the negative ones, that is.
You have no issue with the positive thoughts. You are quite happy to have them hang around.
The only power that thoughts have is the power you give them through identifying with them. Leave them alone and they will leave you alone.
3 Ways To Guard Your Peace — Even Under A Tsunami Of Negative Thoughts
Here are three practical steps you can take to stop thoughts from affecting your peace.
1. Treat All Your Thoughts Like Honoured Guests
You create suffering when you resist what is.
Let’s say the thought, “You are such a loser,” appears in your head.
What is your normal reaction when such a thought comes knocking at your door?
First of all, you judge it as negative. You want it to go away… to leave you in peace. Perhaps you also judge yourself for having it?
Is it the thought itself that causes all the trouble or your reaction to it?
What if you were to welcome it rather than rejecting it — to invite it in with an attitude of non-judgemental acceptance?
What if, knowing it is just part of the mind’s programming and is not personal, you didn’t mind it being there?
I am guessing it wouldn’t affect your peace in the same way.
2. Take Everything The Mind Tells With A Large Pinch Of Salt
Learn to question everything the mind comes up with. It is a notorious liar.
Just because the mind tells you something doesn’t mean there is any truth in it. If your mind is trying to convince you that you are a loser, deeply question whether this is really the case.
Be particularly suspicious of generalisations such as ‘you always…’ or ‘everything you do…’
Think of some of your positive achievements in life. Are these really the work of a loser? Like a detective, build up a case that supports the opposite.
Most beliefs rapidly crumble when subjected to even a little scrutiny.
3. Don’t Get Lost In The Mental Movie Jungle
What happens when we dwell on negative thoughts?
They turn into mental movies.
The worry thought about your finances triggers a mind movie imagining the worst possible outcomes. In your head, you are already destitute and living on the street, your life in ruins.
Individual thoughts come and go like clouds in the sky. Let them come. Let them go. You suffer when you get sucked in to the jungle of mental movie making.
All we need do to stop it is to notice we are doing it… to be aware of the tendency to overthink and get bogged down in imagined outcomes.
You have no idea what will happen next in your life. A huge upturn in fortune may be just around the corner? Who knows?
Individual thoughts trigger mental movies. Don’t go there. Don’t dwell on your thoughts. Choose for peace instead.
Peace Is What Happens When You Are Not Thinking
There is one time each day when every person experiences perfect peace.
It is the brief period in the morning when you have just woken up but haven’t yet remembered anything about yourself or your life.
It is an experience of pure awareness, free from mental activity. In the absence of thought, you are neither male nor female, rich nor poor, young nor old. You just ARE — consciousness aware.
In the absence of thinking, there are no worries or problems.
Peace is an attribute of your true nature, the consciousness that you are. It is not something you have to go looking for.
Why don’t we experience this more often?
It is because our compulsive preoccupation with the mind causes us to overlook the backdrop of peace that is ever-present.
Leave Your Negative Thoughts Alone And They Will Leave You Alone
A head full of negative thoughts can be overwhelming, depressing and capable of driving you to despair.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Although they may appear to be the enemies of your peace, in truth, thoughts don’t have nearly as much power as you think.
They are like clouds that appear from nowhere, linger for a bit and disappear again when their time is up.
There is nothing ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ with negative thoughts winding their way across the sky of your awareness. You don’t even need to free of them to experience peace.
They can only affect you if you engage with them — if you identify with them, believe them, fight them, chew on them or make mental movies out of them.
Leave them alone and they will leave you alone.
Use the information in this post to change how you relate to thoughts and they will cease to have the same impact on your peace.
You may wish to check out my book “Kick The Thinking Habit” for a more in-depth look at how to rise above mind-created suffering.
The next time your mind tries to convince you that there is something wrong with you (as it will), welcome the thought. Humour it.
Recognise that it is just the mind doing its thing. Don’t believe it, Don’t resist it, Don’t dwell on it or think about it. You don’t need to give it any attention at all.
Recognise that all thoughts appear upon a backdrop of peace that can never leave you. Learn to keep your attention there.
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