Wednesday, August 31, 2011

In Your Mind’s Eye: Positive and Negative Thought

We live in a world where resources seem scarce, where time and money (and the list goes on) appear to be the reasons why we can or cannot be/do/have what we want. We crave, we plan, we strive, and we sometimes get it and sometimes we don’t. Or at least that is how it appears. The reality is: we more often than not get what we place our attention on. If we freely dream without attachment, somehow it makes it to our doorsteps. When we focus on all the reasons why it’s not possible, or on all the things in our way, we often run into exactly that – all the constraints, and challenges.

This is an old idea, borrowed from the en vogue conversation about Law of Attraction, which loosely states that “like attracts like.” What is meant by this is our positive thinking manifests positive physical results, and our negative thoughts attract its likeness, namely impediments and negative outcomes.

This is a great concept, but it’s not as clear cut as the idea implies on the surface. We don’t usually think in individual positive and negative thoughts separately, but think of them concurrently. We may wish for something (positive), but at the same time think of all the perceived reasons, past history and experiences, and problems (negative) that stand in our way from having it. So, these two battle themselves out, with the negative thoughts usually being much stronger than the positive ones – winning the argument and ultimately resulting in struggle and/or negative results.

Some Examples
  • Perceived positive desire: “I want to be in a romantic relationship.” 
  • Contrasting negative thoughts: “I have not had luck with this, and I can’t seem to ever meet anyone worth being with…I try and fail and this is going to happen again…Why do I always have to be alone? Why do I always meet jerks?” And on and on… 
  • Result: The negative thought is really strong and you end up meeting people that are not a match, or struggle to meet anyone at all, or worse, you never put yourself out there to begin with… resulting in no relationship. 
  • Perceived positive desire: “I need money so I will no longer struggle to survive.” 
  • Contrasting negative thoughts: The thought above has both a positive desire and negative thought combined. 
  • Result: This thought is coming from a place of lack and poverty, not from a place of strength, abundance, and a wealthy state of mind. So, what you attract is more of the same. 
These are just a couple of simplistic examples, but you can likely see how these may show up for you in a variety of forms. And they can be applied to career, health, relationships, and anything else that you may want in your life.

Now What?

What is needed is an opportunity to get into your mind’s eye, into the heart of the desire, and to give yourself permission to think freely about what you want. To dream, to let go of attachment to the end result, and to hand it over to God/Universe/Whatever to align you with your desire. And key to this is to get out of your own way by resisting thoughts about all the impossibilities and historical “failures.” I know that sounds really “woo-woo” and New Age-y, and that’s okay. What you have been doing up to this point has had limited success, so it may be worth a try.

Suggested Path
  1. State it. Formulate your desire into a highly positive form that feels good to you. Resist “need” or “fix-it” language. The more specific the better. For example, “I want a loving romantic partnership” or “I have more money than I know what to do with.” Pretty inspiring right?
  2. Dream it. Think freely about all aspects of having that desire fulfilled. DO NOT think about the “how” or any of the reasons why it’s not possible or can’t happen. Give yourself permission to imagine yourself standing in that place of being/doing/having whatever you are wanting as if it existed NOW. Imagine that partnership, and how you feel, what you are doing together, what your life looks like. Imagine having a full bank account and no needs unmet. The richer the picture, the better. Collage it, write it out, brainstorm with a friend, fantasize.
  3. Play Nice. This is the hard part: manage your inner critic (the liar!). Resist the urge to cut it down to something more “realistic,” as well as to cut yourself down with statements like “I don’t deserve it” or “I won’t ever get that!” Just keep focused on your statement and on your dream.
  4. Leave it Alone. For a time, don’t go to the “how” or to “doing” unless something shows up that feels like a natural action. If it’s useful to you, give yourself a time frame for it, like: I will focus on my positive desire for a month without focusing on “how,” then do that.
  5. Pay Attention. As you keep focused on your desire, you will see things popping up, both positive and negative that reinforce or detract from the possibility of what you want. Just notice them and let them go. If the positive ones feel worth investigating (like: your friend invites you to a networking event), go for it. If the negative thoughts draw you in (like: “my credit card debt is out of control”), notice what they are about and see if there is something you need to address. Sometimes the perceived negative thoughts are your path to positive results. Otherwise, follow step #3 when it comes to the negative.
  6. Follow the Breadcrumbs. When you are ready to take action, read this post to push forward. 
  7. Be Open. Lastly, don’t be attached to the final outcome. It may not look like you originally intended, but it will be necessary for your journey. And you will learn more about yourself in the process. 
What you put out there is what you get in return. Focus on the positive, and manage the negative, to be/do/have what you want in your life. It sounds simplistic, and it really is if you can get out of your own way.

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