Does positive thinking always reduce your stress? Some people think so. But might it actually make your stress worse? Counterintuitive? Maybe, but hear me out.

You listen to your thoughts and you realize they are mostly negative at this point.

“I’m no good.”

“I just can’t do it right.”

“People don’t like me.”

“Things will never change.

You’ve heard that your negative thoughts will come true if you keep thinking them. So you try hard to stop them but they keep coming. You worry more and more, telling yourself that you must change your thinking. You drown out your negative thoughts by telling yourself positive thoughts. Most times you say the opposite of the thought you are having.

“I’m a good person.”

“I do it right.”

“People love me just the way I am.”

“My life is changing for the better.” 

You work hard at it. You repeat the positive thoughts over and over again but the words don’t  seem to help you feel better. You try harder and harder to change your thinking but nothing seems to work.

First of all you need to know that your negative thoughts come from your unconscious mind, not from your conscious mind. They are automatic, usually learned in childhood. Repeating conscious thoughts may place a nice silky layer over the old thoughts for a short time, but then the unconscious ones pop up again.

Second, what if you really understood that thoughts are merely that. Thoughts. The truth is you will never stop thinking as long as your brain is alive. Yes, you can certainly make choices about what thoughts you wish to focus on, but they just keep on running through your brain endlessly. What if you didn’t take them so seriously and didn’t give them so much credence? What if  the next time you noticed your thoughts turn negative you try laughing at them, and you say to them, “I’m sorry, but I’m not going to pay attention to you. You are only thoughts, not reality.”

Here’s a little research project. Try it and see what happens. Leave me a comment and let me know.

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