July 26, 2021

5 Ways to Respond to Negative Thoughts that don’t involve Positive Thinking.


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We are taught so much about the importance of mindset work and positive thinking in personal growth and healing culture.

It’s touted that if we can shift our thinking, the entire structure of our lives will change. Our minds create our reality, right? Yet, if that were actually true, would we all still be seeking ways to heal from trauma and to change our day-to-day experience? If it was really as simple as changing our thoughts, wouldn’t we all be feeling how we wanted to feel by now?

There’s a huge missing link in how we approach healing and personal transformation—and that’s why so many of us are still seeking help and answers.

As a collective, we are so focused on the masculine energy of the mind that we’ve totally neglected the feminine energy, the existence of the body. You know, that thing you live in that moves you through the world? Oh, right!

It’s not our minds that create our reality, it’s actually our bodies. And, deeper than that, it’s our underlying field of energy that truly informs our whole experience. Our body doesn’t have an energy field, our energy field has a body. So, trying to shift your reality by changing your negative thoughts and policing your mind, is akin to trying to build a house by starting with the roof. Not exactly practical is it?

On top of all of this, our brains are actually designed for negative thinking. It’s a deeply engrained survival mechanism.

It was much more important for our ancestors to contemplate the dangers of life and to remember everything that was potentially life threatening, than it was to celebrate the good experience and have gratitude while munching on dinner around the fire.

Positive thinking certainly didn’t scare off the sabertooth tiger, and I’m betting that it hasn’t shifted anyone’s life in the deep ways that they were expecting either.

So, if our brains are designed for negative thinking and changing our thoughts doesn’t actually shift things on a foundational level, where does that leave us? How do we actually heal and find the wholeness that we crave?

We begin with our energy, or at the very least our bodies. We start at the bottom, and we learn to speak the language of the “meatsuit.”

We begin to allow our negative thoughts to be there, and when they arise, we take it as a sign to tune in to the body, to feel in to what’s going on at a deeper level. Our negative thoughts are simply information from our body, rather than a reason for us to be hard on ourselves and to sink deeper in to shame, as we so often do.

Next time a negative thought pops in, we can:

>> Gently notice it: “Wow, I’m having a pretty negative thought.” Allow it to be there. Remind ourselves that thoughts are information.
>> Take a pause to scan our body and locate the place(s) that we are feeling any kind of sensation.
>> Be aware that our mind will likely pop in and attach all sorts of language and “story” to our experience.
>> Bring our awareness gently back to our body. Try to describe what the sensation feels like and where it’s located. It can be helpful to use descriptive words like closed, tingly, tight, open, or even associate it with a colour or image if that feels good.
>> Breathe and maintain focus on the sensations that we’re experiencing, noticing any subtle shifts.

When trying this out, it’s common to notice how often we think about our feelings rather than actually experiencing them as sensations. We may feel discouraged by how often our mind interjects, realising how thinking is so much more comfortable than feeling. Our minds might even stoop to new lows and shout adamantly that “this is stupid.” It’s all part of the process. Learning a new language takes time and practice.

Slowly and surely we do learn and we find that working from the ground up starts to shift things in real and tangible ways.

And all of those mindset pieces that we’ve been trying so hard to shift? They start to show up effortlessly and naturally because they are built on something solid, something that is actually felt.

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Meaghan McQuade  |  Contribution: 160

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