There has been so much said about “The Power of Positive Thinking and Attitude”, that there almost seems to be no more to be said on the subject. I have read much on the matter, and the solution to negative attitude all comes down to one simple thing: “STOP IT.” Whatever that thing is that is undermining your efforts, diminishing your self-esteem, creating fear in your life, or any number of other ailments that can be attributed to “negative thinking”, just “STOP IT”.
I am specifically thinking of the many people in this great country of ours (the United States) who are in treatment or on medication for this or that mental or emotional condition over which they seem to feel they have absolutely no control. Do not get me wrong here – I DO believe there are actually medical conditions that require treatment of some sort. But I also believe that the by-far vast majority of people who are in treatment or on medication for anxiety or depression – or any number of other “disorders” – are using their medication as a crutch against having to deal with the issues and matters in their lives – and I’d also bet that most psychologists would agree with me.
The idea of “STOP IT” comes from a skit on the late night comedy skit program, “Mad TV”. On one episode, their guest was Bob Newhart. God I just love that man. Anyway, he did a skit with Mo Collins, in which she came to his office (he was a psychiatrist in the skit – original casting, eh?) and began to list all the fears and disabilities she had. For instance, she would say something like “I have a hard time being out in crowds, I start to become dizzy and faint, and I feel sort of sick…” and he’d say, “Well…. STOP IT!” You really have to see the skit to see the humor – but you don’t have to see the skit in order to understand that it is an absolutely functional theory that can be put into practice in many forms.
A lot of the issues that people deal with mentally – those who are not suffering from an actual physiological condition – are perpetuated by “wrong thinking”, and many times this is just a matter of poor programming, bad mental habits, and sheer laziness. When we were young, some of us were (largely unintentionally) badly programmed with negative images of ourselves and the world around us. Since this is how we were originally trained to think, this is sometimes a difficult problem to correct. It CAN be corrected, though, through the use of positive affirmation technique. There are many books on the subject, but the main thing to know is that you can take any “bad” thought and turn it into a “good” one – and then regular repetition of the “good” thought will reinforce your ability to believe in it. For instance, if you are always telling yourself that you are “ugly”, then by turning it around to its diametrically opposed opposite and telling yourself that you are “beautiful” – repetitively, for a period of time – the result will be your beginning to see your own beauty and trying to live up to that new self-image. It sounds silly, but it is a completely effective technique when followed regularly.
We develop bad mental habits while we are developing as a human being. Perhaps it may begin as an issue of initial poor programming (by parents, siblings, friends when we are young), or it may be a matter of just believing whatever negative impressions about ourselves and the world in which we live that come our way – from any person, throughout our lives (insults and barbs from a lover, the unkind words of a fair weather friend or blatant enemy, the bad news on the television or jarring gossip of a neighbor), but we choose to continue to participate in that continual programming of ourselves. Sometimes this results in a sort of “negative inner chatter” or “negative script” that can pervade our entire life experience, where we have a continual script running in our heads of what sort of “bad” person we are, how incapable we are, how pathetic – and how scary the world is. Just like the individual re-programming of negative programs, we can alter these scripts in our heads to reflect what we would more LIKE to be. We can choose to alter the programming of our minds.
First, you need to recognize if you actually have one of these scripts running in your head – it can be hard to identify, if you’ve never looked for it before! Self-recognition and awareness are key to altering these programs and scripts. Listen to your thoughts when you are alone with an activity, and see what your mind is telling you, what you are telling yourself. You might just be thinking of the things you need to do, or daydreaming, or some such – those usually fall under the category of “normal scripts”, that do no harm to your sense of being. Though, as with anything, if you are dwelling TOO MUCH on things that need to be accomplished, and you are worrying; or if you are spending your WHOLE day daydreaming, then you may need to look into the meanings behind those things and work on them also. But in the case of the simple negative script, “I’m fat, I’m ugly, I can’t get a good job, I can’t do anything right… (and infinitum)”, you want to follow the seek-and-replace principle of any positive affirmation construction. Every time you find yourself thinking the negative thought, immediately STOP, RECOGNIZE and ACCEPT the thought, then CHANGE IT to the positive polar opposite. If you persevere, what will happen is that your script will begin to become more positive, and soon thereafter it will simply disappear (you find that the reinforcement of your “goodness” is not nearly so necessary as the reinforcement of your “badness”) – leaving your mind clear for more important thoughts!
As you work through your negative scripts, you will find that the issues behind them – the events that shaped them – will surface. You need to address these matters and realize that they do not need to dictate who you are or who you will become anymore. They never DID! Seek the lessons they present, see what healing may be effected with them, then LET THEM GO. We can never work on the past – we can only ever work on the present.
Many people who opt for medication these days for self-esteem issues or “nervous conditions” of all sorts are actually running away from themselves and reacting to their lives, instead of taking a stand and learning to use their minds for themselves. They do not take stock of what is actually going on inside their heads, they do not “weed the gardens” of their minds to try to grow beautiful flowers instead of thorns and brambles. An excellent book to read on this subject is James Allen’s tiny treatise called, “As A Man Thinketh” (also transcribed for women in a volume called, “As A Woman Thinketh”). In its simplicity from another age (published in 1902), and even though the author was never satisfied with it, this tiny book has transformed many a mind to understanding how our thoughts create our experience – long before the concept was made popular in the mainstream media.
The third concept connected with the power of positive thought and attitude is laziness. We get “stuck in ruts” in our lives, and any change is an effort. We usually shy away from any unnecessary effort, if possible. But in this case, being lazy towards our thoughts and attitudes will directly impact our effectiveness in our individual lives and in the world; it will make or break our life experience, making it a more positive or a more negative one. To be lazy about what we think – what we ALLOW ourselves to think – is the ultimate in laziness, and I suppose this writer would have to say that those who understand the tools and still choose to not use them might deserve what they get for not taking a stand to improve their own lot. It takes no real effort to change your mind – while it takes a LOT of effort to change the world to suit you or to stay chained to a regimen of medication and psychological treatment to make sure that you don’t have to deal with what you should be dealing with. Maintaining negativity is energy draining, in and of itself!
The axiom, “Change your mind, change your life!” is a truism. Miracles may not fall out of the sky (immediately), but you will see a noted change for the better if you take just small steps to tend and beautify your mental garden – and you will not need a substance or a therapist in order to create or sustain it. It is Mankind’s birthright to enjoy this life, to be fulfilled and to create a beautiful experience – it’s all about how we build our inner environment through the architecture of our thoughts and feelings about ourselves and the world in which we live.