Most of my friends think I am in the business of Positive Thinking. And nothing can be further from the truth. For one, I truly believe in the power of holistic thinking. The good, the bad, and the ugly. And secondly, I use whatever is necessary to induce transformation, including STRONG USEFUL NEGATIVE THOUGHTS.
I remember working with an alcoholic who failed to convince me that he really wanted to change. So, I had to slide in the picture of him lying on the road, abandoned by everyone, including his wife, and someone spitting on the road, on him, not knowing there is a human being on the ground. And what if the person who spat on him is his own son? Not surprisingly he had such a disgusted response to that narration, and I leveraged it fully, to help him overcome alcohol addiction with the use of some very fine programming! What could have anyone accomplished with the negative impact of giving him positive suggestions at that moment like, your Life Will be Perfect ?
The difference I am sharing with you today is the difference between the questions ‘Is it useful?’ and ‘Is it positive?’
Now, there are various situations where I use positive thinking. But why would I limit myself to a container of ‘positive thinking’? During my workshop, I ask people to consider what they really want. And I ask, “What if, at this moment, your dreams comes true?” What will you do with all this success? Now, I use such thinking to build powerful emotions and attach them to their everyday activities. It builds in a mechanism where they go motivated everyday, to build in inspiration. So, I am not against positive thinking; in fact, I love it. What I am against is limiting oneself to it!
I wish to propose a radical frame instead! What if you can use the power of positive thinking as well as negative thinking to get what you want? What if you can let purpose lead your thinking? Purpose of the heart or purpose of the mind or both? Instead of shallow filters labelled ‘positive’ or ‘negative’.
Positive Purpose of Negative Thoughts
What most people call ‘Negative Thoughts’ have a strong purpose most times. The purpose could be to:
1. be careful
2. consider the cons as well
3. be prepared for challenging situations
Why would anyone alienate such an ally? Because they don’t understand the purpose of such thoughts.
According to me, one of the best discoveries of Neuro Linguistic Programming is the appreciation that every thought and every action may have a useful intention. And there is a time and place where that can be really useful and powerful.
So, most times when people complain about negative thoughts, the problem is not the thought itself but the timing, frequency, and intensity of such thoughts.
How to program your Negative Thoughts?
Well, what if you can make a deal with yourself? So that what you may call ‘negative’ thoughts don’t hound you. Instead they start becoming your ally in the most useful way. Following is an exercise that may work for you:
Do this just before you sleep:
1. Stop All your Thinking and Go into a Deep Meditative State of Mind.
2. Ask yourself – What is the intention of these thoughts? Don’t try to answer it. Just ask the question and let go.
3. Something will emerge to you conscious. A memory, a symbol, a song. Something.
4. Leverage that something as a lead and explore the useful intention of these thoughts.
5. Once you feel like you know what the intention is, thank yourself for both trying to take care of it and also for becoming aware of it now.
6. Give such thoughts a new respectful name other than Negative Thinking. For example: ‘protective thoughts’.
7. Continue to stay in the meditative state and make a deal. Decide when you want such thoughts. Allocate a time for it. For example: when you are driving or when you are taking shower or when you are watching TV, etc.
9. When you get the thoughts again at the decided time, encourage them and explore further.
There is something that amazes me about some musicians, dancers, and artists. They can take what most people call noise and turn it into rhythm, melody, and artwork. Like a singer singing to the drops of a rain. Or a dancer dancing to the rhythm of the soft blowing wind on the sea shore.
So, if you find this useful, do share with me how you will use purposeful thinking in your life (both positive and negative).
Love your thought process. Have used what you describe as positive and negative, i just call it reinforcements. Always have used a combination of it to shake a person out of apathy and then for giving direction. Thank you for articulating it so well.
Yes, reinforcing the new direction is a very powerful application as well. Glad to know, you like the articulation :)
enjoyed reading this ..a totally refreshing way of dealing with negative thoughts …and so positive ..
Glad you liked it :)
Nothing could have been better than reading such a powerful write-up today. This has instantly changed my way of thinking. I’m now going acknowledge these ‘protective thoughts’ and explore more with the suggested installation.
what a beautiful concept about the negative thoughts Yes I accept because we want to be careful these thoughts happen and by encouraging it and following the steps given I am sure I can use it on myself to
bring a new me
Great Antano.. I feel I am getting answers for most of my questions from you. I am struggling with the negative thoughts of my wife since long. I have motivated her and she has also tried to stop these negative thoughts. But all in vain.. I hope this solution may work out. Seems so convincing…
positive and non positive thoughts are like the day and night both are needed for us to lead life without as you have said we can name it beautifully as protective thoughts.A very useful information of conversion of thoughts protective into productive.
Antano, very nice article and a new attitude towards thoughts. Loved it.