Three Hopeful Truths to Remember When Dealing with Negative Thoughts

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So you’re sitting with a friend – let’s call her Sally – over lunch.

Nice day.

The two of you are having a ball munching a delicious meal, sipping your favorite beverage and discussing frivolous things.

Life is good.

Then, a familiar yet creepy voice wanders into your mind. “What an idiot Sally is. Look at her!  You should just let her know how stupid she is, right now! Go ahead, just say it!”

Huh?

Your face twitches, keeping the sudden inner violence at bay. What’s going on? Is Sally noticing that I’m getting disturbed over here? Keep up the happy face. I’d never just up and call Sally an idiot! Everything’s fine.

“No, it’s not fine. You hate Sally because she’s a total buffoon,” the voice in your head continues. “Look, she doesn’t even know how to match her clothes. And what an big, awful nose she has! Come on, she doesn’t even…”

Ok, stop!

You’re actually feeling tense now, pleading with the critical voice in your head to go away.

“And what kind of friend are you, anyway? Sitting here pretending you like this person. What a fake you are! Sally is bound to find out you despise her and when she does…..wow, you are going to lose all your friends, aren’t you? Good, you don’t deserve friends, anyway. You’re an evil person for having these thoughts.”

Ok get me out of here. No, wait. Calm down. If I can just get through this horrible scene, then I can go home where it’s safe. Ok – just another 20 minutes or so and I’m free…

Now, your enjoyable lunch has become a struggle for social survival. You’re fighting to just get through it without losing a friend or looking like a fool.

Welcome to your mind. No, you’re not crazy. You are a normal human being.

So relax.

The human psyche has so many funky glitches that it’s a wonder we can all can get along. Actually, on the whole we’re having a very, very difficult time getting along, aren’t we?

We don’t stay in relationships with each other very well – even when relationships begin with love or mutual goals. We abuse and kill each other routinely. When we make mistakes, we automatically blame someone else. Yeah, let someone else take the fall! We lie, cheat, steal, criticize, gossip and carry on about each other like a pack of wild animals. We don’t even like people who are different that we are.

And it all begins in the mind.

The question is – what can you do to effectively manage your out-of-control mind?

Here are 3 tips to consider:

1.  Realize that impulsive, aggressive, critical and even disturbingly violent thoughts are…..normal.

These thoughts are not “socially acceptable” so nobody admits what’s really going on in their heads. Nevertheless, your average person’s mind is a steaming cauldron of mischief.

I know this from 25 years of counseling and coaching ordinary people. My clients have always been well-adjusted, successful people with families, jobs, business ventures and adult responsibilities. Normal people.

Yet, when we get digging around just a little bit, even the nicest, most reserved people reveal a totally different and much darker version of themselves. This is normal, normal, normal. I’ve never met anyone – anyone – from the average marijuana-smoking teenager to the most distinguished professional (including clergy) who wasn’t struggling on a deeper level with this stuff.

I remember when I first realized that my mind was ready to go off on people. I was standing in the office of the Mission President in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (I was a Mormon missionary from 19-21 and a devout Mormon until age 37).

Through hard work and dedication, I had risen through the ranks and landed a position as a special assistant to the president. This job was the envy of all upwardly mobile missionaries. Anyway, there we stood. The president was going on about necessary changes in the field and I was nodding along gravely.

I support you, Mr. President!

And then it hit me – the sudden urge to punch him in the face. I noticed my hand clenching and….Whoa! Hold on a second. Don’t punch your spiritual leader!

Then the voice, “Fuck it. I’m going to lay this guy out right now!”

I said a silent prayer. I’m so sorry for swearing. Please give me the strength to respect my leader…

“Punch him! Punch that bastard!”

For six months I worked in the office of the president. And for six months I wanted to haul off and sock the guy in the face for no apparent reason (there was a reason – just not one I was aware of at the time). It was agonizing.

Ok? I’m a person, too. And this is all pretty normal from my perspective. If you are aware enough to notice your disturbing thoughts and call them your own, congratulations. You are not alone. You’re in the company of every other human being who has ever existed. Trust me.

2. Thoughts are just thoughts and that is all they will ever be.

A thought is a tiny secretion of neurotransmitter. They happen to the tune of thousands per hour according to some estimates (actually, they can’t really be quantified since the brain never rests and is constantly processing an enormous amount of data). Some of this data rises to the surface where we give it conscious consideration and meaning.

Isn’t it interesting that we often give the negative stuff all the weight and dismiss the positive? These are your negative psychological attachments at work. Negative attachments are what keep us glued to inner angst. They’re powerful. I dedicated a book to this concept of clinging to inner negativity. It’s real – and everyone should be aware, as difficult as it is to admit.

Anyway, thoughts are just thoughts. They are neither good nor bad. They only have the significance that you give them. Can you stop taking them so seriously? If you can, then you’ll have more choice.

3. There is a solution.

It’s not a magical solution. No one can wave a magic wand and clean up your mind, turning you into pure, golden light. You’re a person; imperfect and vulnerable.

That said, if you are willing to address the deeper issues, then you can achieve a purer, more relaxed mind a lot more of the time. In my experience, you won’t get there by battling each thought. This only sets you up for war within yourself.

You get there by acknowledging, owning and moving through your deeper issues.

angry businessman under big palmFor me, the deeper issue was one of resistance to authority. Growing up, those in authority over me consistently hurt or neglected me. At length, I came to the conclusion that they didn’t care or didn’t know what they were doing – and therefore no authority figure ought to have any power over me. In fact, I guess I thought authority figures needed to be punished.

These are childish thoughts from a hurt child who didn’t understand that my parents and older siblings were just people struggling with their own issues. In my child mind, I didn’t care. I just wanted revenge.

This lead to problems throughout early adulthood. My rebel attitude only invited more intervention from authority – not less -which made me resent them all the more….vicious cycle.

The Rebel is one of the 12 attachment types that cause self-sabotage per the AHA Solution online program. I had to work through this one for quite some time. It was worth it.

Most of all, working on the deeper issues has allowed me the luxury of a quiet mind that rarely spins out of control. My mind does still get the best of me from time to time, but nothing like before. More than worth all the effort!

What’s the deeper issue beneath your negative thoughts?

Identify it. Name the issue and square yourself with the truth. Then, you’ll have your work cut out for you. It’s doable. And a much better path than remaining at the mercy of your mental demons.

By the way, if you want a quick and effective way to discover the deeper issue in your psyche, try our new Hidden Truth Miracle email coaching program. In five emails over five days, we’ll personally guide you to your liberating,  hidden truth. This is a live and customized email coaching program, not an auto-responder. Click here to learn more.

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About Mike Bundrant

Mike Bundrant is a retired psychotherapist, Master NLP trainer, and practicing life coach. He and his wife, Hope, founded iNLP Center in 2011. For information on coaching with Mike, please visit his coaching website AHA System.

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