Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Power of Negative Thinking

After reading the title, some of you may be thinking, "Wait a minute, is she advocating negative thinking?" No, I'm not.  I am generally very positive, however I am occasionally susceptible to those inner demons who see the worst in everything. And I have seen how powerful those thoughts can be. They can completely take over our mind and reframe events. I had a sharp reminder of that yesterday.

I had a small artistic setback in the morning.  The day was pretty busy and I was focused on the task at hand, so I didn't dwell on the setback. When things slowed down in the evening, my inner critic came out and began berating me. Pretty soon, that voice picked up on some other things that happened during the day and put a negative spin on those, too. By the time I went to bed, I had a sick, sinking feeling in my stomach. (I discovered a short-term band-aid.  I was reading the comics in bed and found myself laughing out loud.  That's when I realized I didn't feel as bad anymore.  I guess laughter really is good medicine.)

While this was going on, I was aware of it, but I just couldn't seem to change the course of my thoughts. This made me think of that old story about the man and the sinkhole.  Have you heard it?

A man walks down the street and falls into a sinkhole. The next day he does the same thing.  The third day, he does it again, but this time he thinks, "Hmm, I fell into that sinkhole again.  I better go a different way tomorrow."  The next day he walks down the street and falls into the sinkhole.  But this time, while he is falling, he thinks "Oh, yeah.  This darn sinkhole.  I need to go a different way tomorrow." He does this a few more times.  Then one day, as he is walking down the street he thinks, "That sinkhole is coming up, I better go a different way."

The element of awareness is crucial for change. Last night, I knew I was falling into the sinkhole.  Maybe tomorrow I'll remember the sinkhole before I fall in.

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