An elderly Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life… He said to them, “A fight is going on inside me, it is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One wolf is evil—he is fearful angry, jealous and negative. The other is good—he is happy, peaceful, positive and content. The grandchildren thought about it for a minute, and then one asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win, Grandfather?” The Elder smiled and replied, “Whichever wolf you feed.”
The human brain produces approximately 70,000 thoughts on an average day. Not all of these thoughts are useful, and we certainly don’t act upon every thought – that would be a lot of actions! We filter out those thoughts that we consider to be ‘useful’ and we disregard others. So essentially, we choose which thoughts we listen to.
The point of the story is that everyone has both negative and positive thoughts flying around their heads everyday – the trick is deciding which of these you will listen to. It’s a pretty simple equation: Feed the negative thoughts and you’re likely to end up experiencing negative states such as stress, anxiety, fear, anger and sadness. And these states will usually sabotage your life in some way. Feed the positive thoughts and you’re likely to experience happiness, fun and an all-round sense of peace, plus you are much more likely to achieve what you want in life.
In-fact imagine how different your life would be if you didn’t listen to any negative thoughts and only listened to the positive ones. Imagine how much more you could achieve.
It boils down to a simple choice…you choose.
Simple Life Strategy: don’t feed the bad wolf
Here are my top 5 tips for dealing with negative thoughts:
- Awareness. the first step is to be aware of when you’re experiencing negative thoughts. So spend the next few weeks noticing when you’re thinking negative
- Don’t react. Resist the temptation to ‘react’ or act upon negative thoughts that pop up. Instead have a neutral reaction. You could try saying to yourself ‘That’s interesting – there’s a negative thought’. Whatever you do – don’t act on the thought.
- Control the first negative thought. Negative thoughts are often contagious…once you have one thought your mind will subconsciously search for other negative thoughts or evidence to support the thought and something that started out quite minor will end up being completely blown out of proportion. Don’t allow your mind to escalate what starts off as a minor negative thought.
- Look for positive evidence. Usually negative thoughts don’t reflect reality. So instead of trying to ‘support’ or ‘feed’ the negative thought, do the opposite and challenge it. Look for evidence that the thought isn’t true.
- Realise that you are not your thoughts. The thoughts inside your head are not who you are. They are just thousands of thoughts that are roaming freely around your mind. Don’t beat yourself up for thinking negative – simply choose not to listen to thoughts that are not of any use to you. Ask yourself – “is this thought in anyway useful to me?” If it’s not, then choose to ignore it.
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