The sheer number of thoughts that keep running through your mind all day is mind boggling. What is even more astonishing is that many of these thoughts are negative.
Morale damaging thoughts.
Most people would tell you, don’t think of these negative thoughts. Brush them aside. Think of pleasant, positive ones instead.
Yes. While that is a step in the right direction, does it come so easily to you? Our brains are just not wired to be fooled into thinking good thoughts when they are actually moping.
What would one do to get rid of negative thoughts? A study showed that an overwhelming number of people would resort to escapism when told not to think negative thoughts! They would use distractions to deal with it. These distractions could be as simple as excessive eating to as fatal as substance abuse.
And that brings us back to the question, is it really possible to brush aside negative thoughts? We all know, it doesn’t work that way at all!
Running away, or escaping from these thoughts is never a solution. It might cause you more harm than good. So what is the best thing to do? As with all problems, when faced with painful thoughts, face them. Take them head on.
Let me share a story from the Mahabharata-
Krishna and Balarama were passing through a dense forest but night fell before they could cross it. They decided to sleep under the trees, taking turns to keep guard as the other slept. A little while later, Balarama spotted a monster, even as Krishna slept peacefully, unaware of the demon’s presence. With each growl of the monster, Balaram grew more and more fearful, and each time he shook in fear, Balarama shrunk in size while the monster grew. Unable to face it, Balarama fell unconscious out of fear.
Krishna awoke after some time. He found his brother sleeping, and not suspecting that he was unconscious, decided to keep vigil. Soon, he spotted the monster too. Seeing Krishna, the monster growled. Fearlessly, Krishna faced him, asking him, who he was and what he wanted. This time, the monster shrunk in size and Krishna grew. Each time Krishna faced the monster, he grew and the monster kept shrinking. Finally, the monster was so tiny that he scooped up the monster in his hand and tied him to the loose, open end of his garment.
This story has a beautiful lesson. The demon is an amalgamation of all your negative thoughts-it symbolises the painful thoughts, the scary ones, the hurtful ones. And if you want to win over this demon, facing your thoughts is the only way you can hope to do it. The more you are scared to face them, the more they keep overpowering you.
They weaken you, they take control over your mind.
They grow in size, they multiply in strength.
But the minute you stop being afraid, and gather the courage to face them, they grow smaller and smaller.
You can now have complete control over them.
They no longer have the power to scare you.
It is a beautiful story, isn’t it?
So face your negative thoughts. This gives you immense strength to do something about them. Don’t run away from them.
Here’s a quote by Marcus Aurelius, which sums up the post quite succinctly ~“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”