Think Positively Positively
Chapter 16 of the book Self-Help Stuff That Works
by Adam Khan
WHEN A PERSON THINKS a negative thought and tries to get rid of it, that person is thinking positively negatively. Daniel M. Wegner of Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, has conducted a long string of experiments that show the futility and actual danger of trying to get rid of thoughts.
In some of the experiments, Wegner told his subjects, "Try not to think about a white bear." The subjects were then asked to say aloud everything that came to mind. Of course, thoughts of white bears showed up quite a bit. Trying not to think of a white bear produced a thought of a white bear between six and fifteen times in a five-minute period.
Trying not to think a negative thought will result in thinking it more.
Thinking is like breathing: It goes on night and day and you can't stop it. But you can change it. You can breathe slowly and deeply or shallowly and quickly. You can breathe any way you want. But you can't stop.
The same is true about thinking. You can say something stupid or depressing to yourself; you can say something intelligent or inspiring to yourself; but you can't stop thinking entirely.
So when you find yourself disliking the content of your thoughts, instead of trying to stop yourself from thinking a thought, try to direct your thoughts.
And the way to direct your thinking is by asking yourself a question. A question gets your mind going in a new direction without suppressing what you're already thinking. Ask yourself a question.
Of course, the kind of question you ask makes a big difference. If you ask "Why is this happening to poor me?" your answers won't help you any.
The idea is to direct your mind by asking questions that put your attention on practical things, on accomplishment, on the future. If you find yourself worrying, for example, ask yourself something like this: "How can I make myself stronger and better able to deal with this?" Or "Can I get busy right now working on my goal - so busy I forget all about my worries? And if not, is there some planning I can do now that will save me time later?" Or even simply "What is my goal?"
When you find yourself thinking negatively about something "bad" that happened, ask yourself "What's good about this?" Or "How can I turn this to my advantage?" Or "What assumption have I made that I can argue with?" Ask a good question.
When you decide on a question to ask yourself, ask the question and keep asking. Ponder it. Wonder about it. Let it run through your mind whenever your mind isn't otherwise engaged. It will turn the tide of your thoughts and bring you into a new state of mind because you're thinking positively positively.
Direct your mind by asking yourself a good question.
Here's another, completely different and less difficult way to change the way you feel right away:
Brighter Future? Sounds Good!
Is there someone in your family, maybe an in-law or relative, that consistently makes you feel upset or angry or depressed? There's something you can do about it. Check out:
Attitudes and Kin
An extremely important thing to keep in mind is that judging people will harm you. Learn here how to prevent yourself from making this all-too-human mistake:
Here Comes the Judge
The art of controlling the meanings you're making is an important skill to master. It will literally determine the quality of your life. Read more about it in:
Master the Art of Making Meaning
Here's a profound and life-changing way to gain the respect and the trust of others:
As Good As Gold
What if you already knew you ought to change and in what way? And what if that insight has made no difference so far? Here's how to make your insights make a difference:
From Hope to Change
Staff, H. (2008, October 17). Think Positively Positively, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, February 8 from https://www.healthyplace.com/self-help/self-help-stuff-that-works/think-positively-positively