Are you in the throes of summer cleaning? (Admit it – that closet is bursting!) Perhaps you’re transitioning from cool to warm weather clothes, or you’re shopping for tools despite your packed-to-the-ceiling garage. You maintain a relationship with stuff you haven’t bothered to toss out or organize because you’ve told yourself you just don’t have time. So, stuff just piles up. Can you even see the floor anymore?
At Productive Learning, we’re piggybacking on those cleaning sprees. We invite you to approach the closets of the unquestioned thoughts in your mind while you consider those items that overstuff your house and generate less-than-desirable feelings.
But we’re not asking you to declutter or clear out these thoughts! We’re suggesting you poke around and take stock of what’s influencing your thinking that you may be unaware of, and what emotions you feel. Maybe you spend a lot of time comparing yourself to others. Maybe you have thoughts of guilt or anger associated with your family, or you’ve convinced yourself you’re “stuck” in a job or marriage. These are hard thoughts to pull out of the closet and dust off.
Avoiding this thinking is unhealthy. We avoid it because we’re conditioned to believe it brings up unwanted feelings (e.g., fear, anger, hurt, or sadness). We know how others responded to those feelings in the past: “Don’t be sad.” “There’s nothing to be afraid of.” “I won’t tolerate that tone of voice.” “If you’re going to cry, go cry in your room.” “I don’t want to hear it.” Our caregivers, parents, and teachers unintentionally taught us to get away from these feelings and thoughts. Although they meant well, they misled us.
When you ignore thoughts, it’s like ignoring that pile of stuff and adds up to more work, stress, time, and procrastination. And, of course, ignoring it doesn’t make it go away. As humans with brains wired for survival, not happiness, we’re natural avoiders. It’s our deepest desire to get away from anxiety, anger, rage, and fear. Instead of using these thoughts and emotions to enlighten ourselves and enhance our well-being, we avoid, suppress, and bolt from them.
So many of us have suffered from anxiety and depression because we don’t have a healthy relationship with painful thoughts. We try suppressing them, but that only leads to subversive behavior. We skip out on a romantic date, don’t say what we mean, don’t lose the weight, and so on. This is why affirmations, vision boards, and telling yourself to “just think positive!” don’t work. Saying one needs to “think positive” suggests there is such a thing as negative thinking.
But what if we told you there’s no such thing as negative thinking? That’s right – negative thinking is a myth!
Emotionally intelligent people know that no emotional state is negative and there are no wrong feelings – especially fear. They don’t avoid unpleasant thoughts and strive to feel good all the time. Emotionally intelligent people translate their thoughts into an empowering, decision-making force. Imagine trusting that every one of your thoughts is an emotional indicator guiding you with a higher intelligence. That means your thinking is never, ever negative.
It’s time to consciously disrupt avoidance, dismantle the myth of negative thinking, and experience mind chatter as empowering.
You may imagine it’s not possible. You have too many worries and fears, and since our mind is meant to protect us from fear, imagination blows those worries out of proportion.
Imagine experiencing life without being afraid of pain. What if you didn’t fear rejection? What if you could summon your trauma and use it as a rocket propelling you toward exceptional personal growth? What if you appreciated all your thoughts, feelings, judgments, opinions, and concerns? What if you saw it all as useful?
Productive Learning trainers have seen hundreds of clients use “negative thinking” as a catalyst for breakthroughs in the workplace, personal relationships, self-care, and spirituality. Acknowledging and embracing uncomfortable thoughts that create hardships is an act of self-love.
An extraordinary life isn’t a fearless life; it’s a life that uses fear to create “extraordinary.” An extraordinary life is when everything inside of you is welcome and met with understanding. Loving everything you think is true freedom.
Take stock of your “negative thoughts.” Roll up your sleeves and prepare to poke through that closet in your mind. Acknowledge what’s there. Go through it piece-by-piece, thought-by-thought. You can’t begin to imagine the treasure you’ll find or the joy you’ll feel from repurposing what you once considered useless. There’s nothing inside of you that isn’t absolutely 100 percent necessary in your extraordinary life!
Productive Learning is Represented by Luminary Leaders (www.luminaryspeakers.com).
Lindon Austin Crow has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and is president of Productive Learning, a personal development company