Can you please tell yourself to shut up?

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No. Really. Just shut up! OK?

So here is what happened today...I DIDN'T DIE! Beyond that, everything is pretty hunky dory wouldn't you say. Yes? So why do we continuously talk to ourselves like our world is ending and why do we concern ourselves with stuff we have no control over? 

If you are anything like the average person then you have about 70,000 thoughts per day. Of those, around 80% are negative. That's 56,000 negative thoughts per day people.

Now in anyone's book that is a lot. And the really nuts thing about it is, WE HAVE CONTROL OVER WHAT WE CHOOSE TO THINK!

So why do we CHOOSE to think negatively?

If you analyse a negative thought, chances are it comes from one of two directions; you are ruminating over something that happened in your past, or you are dwelling on some negative thought about the future.

And here's the rub, YOU CAN'T CONTROL EITHER OF THOSE.

What you can control is what you do right here, right now.

This ladies and gentlemen is called mindfulness and it is your key to salvation. But like everything that is worth doing it is difficult at first and requires constant work for the rest of your days. If you think Oprah don't have negative thoughts then you in complete denial. 

So, here is a crash course in mindfulness. 

The first thing you must do is to recognise what is negative thinking. 

Negative thinking is a thought process where people tend to find the worst in everything or reduce their expectations by considering the worst possible scenarios. 

It can take on many forms but here are some of the most common;

Neediness - When you obsess over the things you 'need' to make you happy you take your eye off the things you already have. This is not to be confused with desire.

"I need you to like this post so you'll keep reading my stuff and I'll feel like a success."

Cynicism - Cynical thoughts, putting others down or more often than not putting yourself down. Sound familiar?

"Why did I type a question at the end of that? That's stupid."

Regret - This comes when you dwell on past actions or decisions and play them over and over in your mind. Guilty your Honour.

"I wish I didn't type that question at the end of the Cynicism bit."

Problems - The constant dwelling on what is perceived to be wrong with your life means we don't celebrate all the good things that happen in our lives.

"Yeah sure I wrote it but I don't think anyone's gonna read it because I can't get a solid title that will optimize my SEO."

Right, now we've identified some of them, don't worry, I know there are heaps more, let's have a chat about what we can do to deal with them.

That's an important distinction to make.

We have to deal with our negative thoughts because we are almost certainly always gonna have them.

We can't just wish them away or pretend everything is AOK because sometimes it ain't. If you don't look at the ground it doesn't mean the weeds will stop growing. You have to cultivate a weed-free mind and keep tending to it and the first step is to have a look at your garden.

You need to become aware of what you are thinking and don't kid yourself, this is really, really hard to do.

Over the course of your lifetime, and if you so choose to believe, the lifetime of your parents and their parents and so on, you have learned your behaviour to the point where your brain fires along the same synaptic pathways with regular monotony.

Your subconscious mind is running the show for you and you are on autopilot, so you don't even know who's flying the plane, let alone where it's going.

In order to become aware of your thoughts, you need to wake up and take the controls. You need to start to pay attention to what is going on inside your mind at any given time. Try and become conscious of when you are having a negative thought. You should have roughly 56,000 opportunities during the day.

If you miss the thought then it's cool, 'cause you get to recheck when you feel a negative emotion because your body won't do something unless it's been instructed by the mind whether consciously or, more often than not, subconsciously.

So if you feel a little yucky then you can backtrack to find the thought that made you feel that way.

Once you find that sucker then it gets a bit tricky, because we don't want to judge the thought, we want to look at it, impartially, from a little way away. Don't try and analyze it or stop it.

Have a cuppa and just watch it for a bit. Look down the road where it came from and speculate where it was going. That way you have disconnected the synapse that auto-responds to the thought with an emotion and if you do that then the negative thought starts to lose its hold over you.

You'll start to see that you don't have to believe all your thoughts and you certainly don't have to take them seriously. Do it enough and they may even stop, for a bit.

Now if you ever get a bit lost in this process there is a get out of jail free card. It's called "being in the moment". As actors, we refer to this sometimes in our work. When you are on stage or in a scene of some sort and you are only concerned with the here and now, with what information is coming at you right now and you are responding to that information only, in a way that is authentic, then that is being "In the moment". All else is superfluous.

You can do this too.

Just redirect your attention out of thought and into the present moment. Give it your undivided attention. What do you see, hear, smell, feel, taste? Are your shoes too tight, does your bum hurt on the hard chair your sitting on? Is your screen resolution too bright? Because unless you're in a life-threatening situation, then right here, right now, everything is pretty good. Isn't it?

Now that you have the tools to monitor your thinking you can start to change your thinking.

This is where it gets really cool because now you can choose to be positive.

And here's the other cool thing; when you're positive it directly affects your life in a positive way. You begin to see the good stuff.

You stop watching the news... BECAUSE IT'S ALL NEGATIVE.


You start to notice the negative people in your life and you can then begin to remove yourself from them, thus increasing your own happiness and when you're awesome you'll find that you attract awesome things to you. Once you're on the positivity train you can ride it to the end of the line...just keep weeding your garden.

And be nice to each other.

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If you want to know how we changed our lives to be positive people then go here.

If you thought this was stupid, then I suggest you have a cuppa and impartially observe that thought.

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