The Game. They say a person either has what it takes to play, or they don’t. My mother was one of the greats. Me on the other hand… I’m kinda screwed. I can’t think of any one reason why I’d want to be a surgeon. But I can think of a thousand reasons why I should quit. They make it hard on purpose. There are lives in our hands. There comes a moment when it’s more than just a game. And you either take that step forward or turn around and walk away. I could quit, but here’s the thing… I love the playing field.
– Meredith Grey (ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy)
How would your life be different if you never experienced another bad thought? A diverting and wonderful thought, isn’t it?
Well, bad thoughts happen.To all of us. Successful people know how to take their bad thoughts and either cast them aside or turn them around so they remain empowered and unencumbered.
There are times when we all experience a dark and twisty place (as the Meridith Grey character is fond of referring to). And when that happens it is almost painless (as strange and ironic as that seems) to give in to those stressful, uneasy, and gloomy thoughts. In fact, there are times when the allure of these pessimistic thoughts is so strong that it actually makes us feel more alive because of the rush of adrenalin, the thrill of the turmoil, and the (false) feeling that we are actually moving forward to prevent some imagined impending doom. The challenge is that surrendering to such intrusive thoughts can paralyze us and easily make us forget where the real power and joy in our life comes from.
To put it another way, your negative thoughts are the heartfelt adversaries to an otherwise triumphant life. They say that people don’t drown because they fall in water; they drown because they fail to get back out. Start considering your negative thoughts as the water into which you have fallen. It’s now your job to get back out. Let’s explore some concepts that, taken together, will help you rapidly escape out of the doldrums so that you can start living a magically, successful life.
The Hard Work of Positive Thinking
It is so easy to think negatively about something, someone, or some event. Usually this belief rut happens when you compare where you want to be or what your expectations of reality. You feel rejection. You have a hunch that scarcity is coming into your life. You sense that you have failed. Or there are complications and mishaps along the way to your personal fame and fortune. And – to make matters worse – you often self-justify this thinking by claiming that you are just being realistic! Still, negative thinking, in the end, is not constructive and will not empower you in the same way (or possibly at all) that positive thinking can unshackle your spirit.
So let me let you in on a little secret – positive thinking is hard work. Positive thinking, done well, is demanding. Positive thinking disputes what your eyes say to you or your head deduces, and calls these pessimistic habits into question. Positive thinking dares you – not to compare – but to dream and to envision something better and to summon up the faith to follow your imagination.
This means you must brace yourself for the rigors of thinking in a positive manner. This means you must dedicate yourself to the strategy of positive thinking; the commitment that you will control the way your head thinks and your heart feels and your gut reacts. You must – and I mean must – persist in the face of what others might criticize or denounce and carry on with a choice to unscramble the events of life in the most encouraging and favorable way possible. If nothing else, you might consider adopting the belief that the whole world is conspiring for your success!
Just Say NO to Excuses
Bad thoughts, left unchecked, are like lies (in fact, they are the lies we tell ourselves), and lies (to borrow from writer Terry Goodkind) are things we believe because we are afraid they are true or we are afraid they are not true. Really consider that. When you give in to negative thoughts you are essentially living in fear. And who wants that?
The bottom line is that, if you excuse your negative thinking today, you are more likely than not to forgive and condone your negative thinking tomorrow. And soon, your toleration for bad thinking will develop into a custom and practice of being a negative responder to everything and everyone! Saying no to bad thinking has to become an obligation – a must, if you will!
Bad Thinking is Internal
When a negative thought comes to us, we generally justify it as being a response to an external stimulus. The delusion we create for ourselves is the conviction that our response is also external – outside of ourselves! This fallacy that we have no control over our responses keeps the negative thinking alive because it prolongs our fight or flight tendencies; those life-saving/self-preservation reactions we are all wired to experience in a very fundamental manner. Again, the error is immortalized because it feels right.
The reality is that all bad thinking is something you do to yourself – it is not an external reaction to anything. You must believe that you can choose how you react to people, places, and things. You may not always be able to consciously choose the things that happen and, while you might have an immediate urge, desire, or inclination to respond in negative fashion to what is thrown in your path, you do have the choice not to give in to any negative impulses. Your progress in deciding to act, think, and feel in a positive manner (rather than reacting in a negative manner) is pivotal if you are going to create the success of your dreams.
Stay Flexible and Sturdy
If you’ve ever watched an improvisational star (think Drew Carey’s Whose Line is it Anyway?), you will have noticed that these celebrities are successful because they remain adaptable to any suggestion or situation thrown their way. When given a scene to play or a line to respond to, our shining stars have trained themselves to say (internally), yes, of course!
This particular secret is simple: the more accommodating you keep yourself, the more convenient everyone and everything you encounter will be for you. To put this secret into practice, you can play with changing the frame of reference you might otherwise use in judging something or someone, you can plan ahead of time to be more spur of the moment, and stay creative!
Make Worry Useful
Not all of life’s stressors are, in and of themselves, harmful or counter-productive for you. Some worry is important as it prompts you to act in a self-preserving way. Some worry may be an actual warning sign to which you need to pay attention. But . . . your reaction to these perceived warning signs are actually the challenge you need to overcome. For example, in response to a stressful situation, do you reach for a cigarette or a drink or act out in a harmful way? Or do you exercise or do something that is healthy? Your behavior in response to worry, then, may be more important than trying to eliminate worry in the first place.
Before you feel your next wave of worry coming on, start learning how to relax again. In our fast-paced, immediate gratification world, we have forgotten how to slow down and unwind. You’ll notice that I am not suggesting that you stop worrying. I am suggesting that you take up yoga, or consistently exercise, or practice mediation so that you can stay calm in the face of upset and disquiet.
One more thing to consider: by telling someone your worries, you actually take away the power of those concerns. When you keep your worry inside, your worry can grow and twist and turn in the most unkind ways. Find a friend or loved one and tell them what you are nervous about. Then watch your big, bad worry start to shrink away and take on a new, smaller size!
Live Your Life Every Day
Bad thoughts happen to all of us. You can either choose to live in the shadow of those thoughts and be reactive to your fears, or you can choose to go out and live a proactive and powerful life everyday! The fact remains, the choice is yours. Make no mistake: THIS IS A BOLD APPROACH TO LIFE! It is a spirit-molding experience. And you must make the commitment to put this style of living into practice each and every day!
Now . . . go out and be spectacular!
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