How To Deal With Negative Thoughts Using Meditation

One of the things that has struck me most forcefully since I\’ve been teaching is the strongly ingrained tendency by most humans to fixate on the negative.

Even when something is pretty bloody good, whether it be a relationship, a career, an event, or even our meditation practice, our prosecuting mind kicks in and we put so much of our attention on the stuff we find dissatisfying.

We also tend to fixate on the flaws and weaknesses that we ourselves possess, to the exclusion of so much that may be positive.

Inside of each of us tends to be this voice, which we can call ‘the Prosecutor’. The Prosecutor wants to have a say in everything. It wants to strip the joy out of everything. It’s always comparing, always competing. It expects everyone and everything to be perfect and doesn’t want to give you (or them) any peace until they demonstrate perfection. And yet, the very presence of this voice is robbing us of the chance to take great joy in the playfulness of imperfection and the excitement of our journey in life. If life was a constant stream of perfection, we would get bored very, very quickly.

So the first suggestion would be – For every prosecuting voice you hear, see if you can give voice to at least one positive aspect of the person, situation or yourself. If you can’t find as many positives as you need, bring your awareness to your heart and see if you can access the empathy required to understand why that situation or behaviour has come to pass.

If you take this further, each night before you roll over to sleep, why not acknowledge one thing you did well today and express gratitude for anything that happened that day for which you feel thanks? If there is nothing you feel proud of, resolve that tomorrow, there will be at least one thing which you have given your efforts to. Even if it’s simply giving a special someone in your life your full attention and presence. It’s one of the most precious gifts you can ever give anyone.

The second suggestion is to work out what is the source of our dissatisfaction? Are our expectations actually fair and realistic? Is it even appropriate to have an expectation in this situation? Are we reliant on the realisation of our expectations in order to feel fulfilled? Could it be that our expectations are driven by subconscious fears? Or is our attachment to their outcome governed by a fear that we are not good enough without the realisation of the expected outcome? Are we seeking control? If so, for what purpose? Do we fear the unknown?

Meditating twice a day will help you start dissipating and dissolving your fears. It’s a long term process, and with each passing practice, fear will govern you less and less. With this, comes an ever increasing capacity for more joy and happiness in life.

The third point is that we need to give ourselves a break. It’s not easy when our subconscious is filled with storylines about ourselves, characterised by us not being ‘good enough’. If you are being hard on yourself, acknowledge the phenomenon and set the subtle intention to let yourself do the best you can. Engage in processes like meditation, retreats and any other activities that charm you that bring more flow to life and allow your essence to shine without the burden of trying to be unattainably perfect.

In my own life experience, I was famed for having an optimistic view of everything, and then I had an almighty car accident and somehow survived when all expert opinion said I should have perished. Whilst the damage to my head and body seemingly healed, one of the changes to my psyche after the accident was to find myself getting caught up in negative thinking and always expecting the worst. My Prosecutor was raging and nothing ever seemed enough. Bit by bit I’ve been on a journey to transcend this trauma induced tendency. I now feel tremendously grateful that it has subsided to the point where I can appreciate all the little things in life. There is still a residue of a voice, and it feels like it’s in the final throes, but I’m not expecting perfection of myself anymore. I will do my very best in life and it will pass when it passes. I have peace in my heart,  peace in mind and as Michael Caine’s ‘Alfie’ once said, ‘if you ain’t got peace of mind, you ain’t got nothing’.

“Comparison is the thief of Joy”  
                         Eleanor Roosevelt

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