Jason Harrison asked on Geoff Thompson’s Facebook Group – http://www.facebook.com/groups/geoffthompson/
“I suffer a lot from negative thinking, and while I have gained fantastic insight thanks to Geoff’s teaching and Richards newly found interrogation style (keep it up) I still struggle with this on a daily basis, and the truth is its pretty powerful.
Random thoughts pop into my head and I feel I have no control of them. So, my question is….what’s the silver bullet for random, negative thinking patterns?
No matter how much I work on myself, I feel I will never be rid of this unless I take radical action. My thought processes often have no real benefit unless I switch myself into actively fighting them, but as such they a too strong. I’m worn out. My mind either goes into the past, or projects into the future and they are never good thoughts, only bad. The only answer I feel is learning meditation…if anyone can help me I’d be grateful….”
Negative Is The New Positive
I have pondered and thought for quite some time to try and answer Jason’s question from my perspective then this morning while running up a country lane thinking about nothing in particular a car approached. When runners and cars interact the exchange of energy tends to be one detrimental way.
The road had no path and I had to go onto the verge. Fortunately the nice man from Coventry council had been along the road recently and trimmed the siding down so it was no longer overgrown. The grass underfoot gave welcome respite from the pounding of the tarmac.
Most of the bouncy surface below was grass. Mostly. In between the grass and in the over damp soil for the time of year were other plants and the odd bit of rubbish. Then badda bing, badda bang, I knew to find an answer to Jason’s question was not the problem.
The problem was the question itself. It was flawed.
The grass verge was left for nature to cultivate. Over many years its management was more due to the elements, nature and passing cars whose thoughtless occupants dispose of rubbish out of the window than the nice man from the council tending the grass.
The grass did its best to flourish for it could be the perfect environment for it to do so but weeds and rubbish fettered its progress. For it to truly flourish it needed tending. This insight told me why Jason’s question was flawed.
1. We are supposed to have negative thoughts. We are.
Without dark there is no light, without sorrow there is no joy. For you religious types here’s an affirmation of such from a rather good book ?
Ecclesiastes 2:13 – “then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth (is greater than) darkness.”
The grass verge I found refuge on was always going to have more than just grass.
2. You can’t fight negative thought.
It’s an oxymoron. (I’ve always wanted to use that word in a sentence.)
To fight against a fight may provide respite but rest assured this will only be temporary. History is littered with huge examples of such.
My friend Mick Tully posted recently the news headlines about parents arrested after a fire took the lives of six of their children.
Truly a terrible circumstance.
There was much calling in the comments that followed demanding retribution. This as the law dictates rightly apportions societies needs to account for such a heinous action.
But this is akin to the nice man from the council trimming the grass. It will grow again but so will the weeds and rubbish reappear.
3. Negative thoughts are welcome when circumstances are right.
Geoff Thompson says there is ‘no growth in comfort’ Susan Jeffers says ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway” I love the Latin maxim “Carp Diem,” Seize the day.
Every adversarial counter productive negative sparking that appears in your mind catching you unawares happen because your nice man from the council needs to come along and do some trimming.
But for the brave this is but the start.
That grass verge that gave me sanctuary from the on coming traffic has the same potential as the earth that hosted the prize winning blooms in the Chelsea Flower show. The same opportunity for flourishing is right there. The difference is it needs to be properly tendered. Like you do.
This little piece of raised verge offered much insight into how it had flourished and how we should to.
To overcome negativity we need to put in place systems, principles, morals, ethics that promote in our case, human flourishing.
Many of my learned friends will point to their favourite tome of wisdom that extolls the mechanism to achieve. Socrates said that the ‘best life is the considered life. ‘But come on Socrates, I know you were Greek and spoke many centuries ago, lets not talk in code. What are the ingredients of a considered life that promotes human flourishing?
Hey, don’t look to me for me to answer definitively on this one. I could easily come up with a list of things that don’t, achieve this like violence, hate, jealousy, closed mindedness, blame. These are all things that deflect the idea of control and promote hopelessness. But this is but a short list and I know you could easily add to it. Easily because that’s how it is with negativity, we are to familiar with it because it’s easy. It’s a great seducer.
Things that I can affirm from my journey so far that promote human flourishing are art, love and knowledge. Take your honest pick and in there widest terms. In their true pursuit the last vestiges of negativity have to be laid down at the door before entering their light. The word honest is the important one to pause on in the previous sentence.
This pursuit allays negative thoughts blasting your contentment because negative thought become welcome visitors. They prompt a quizzical questions that require further understanding or affirmation to what you know to be right. Negative thoughts become friends.
If I’m the nice man from the council and I want that grass verge that provided me refuge to be the best grass verge it can be, it needs tending. When that negative little weed comes along and eats up some of the real estate, don’t reach for the trimmers, although it is a quick fix. Take time to pull it out by the roots and plant some good seed in its place.
Richard Barnes May 2012
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