“Even God cannot change the past” (Aristotle)
Some people are always looking over their shoulders at events gone by. We cannot change the past but we can alter the effect the past has on us. We cannot stop thoughts popping up but we can decide whether we want to dwell on them or just leave them and focus on what is most beneficial for us.
What causes us to think negative thoughts? The habit of doing so is a result of your own training. Perhaps you learned that joy was possible only when things worked out the way you thought it should. You can change it when you realise what Albert Einstein meant when he suggested that you cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it. Finding joy in life means consciously deciding to focus on gratefulness for what you have. When you experience negative thinking and feelings that make you sad it is because you are thinking about what you don’t have such as health, love, money, friends or more time.
When something happens it is your interpretation and meaning that decide the outcome for you. For example, you may have a boss who spends no time with you. You then conclude it is because your boss doesn’t like you – or it is because he/she trusts you. Being fired might mean the end of your life, or a wonderful new beginning with lots of opportunities. The meaning of life is a choice.
Viktor Frankl (survivor of the Nazi concentration camps) believed that man’s search for meaning is the primary motivation in life. What Viktor Frankl experienced taught him that people can survive any hardship if they are able to make a positive meaning out of it. Meaning is not found in things. Meaning is what you make of things. The meaning you choose controls everything. When you decide on a new meaning, it will change everything.
Shakespeare wrote, “There is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so”.
You can compare your mind to a TV screen. You can watch channels that focus on horror movies or switch to channels that focus on the beautiful nature and kind people. Have you tuned into channels that make you feel good? If it is really hard for you to deal with negative thoughts that keep coming make sure you are not fighting the thoughts about whatever it is that turns up in your thoughts. Accept that it is there. You don’t have to like it, but for your own sake, joy, and health choose to be the hero, choose to take it less personal. You may ask yourself what the positive intention of the event is. If it is difficult for you to find a meaning with the episode, you can always consider it as personal growth. Learn from it and free yourself by choosing your favourite channel.
How do you feel just now? Your answer will tell what your previous thoughts were. When we feel low and go through negative emotions, all we seem to remember is the negative stuff – the wrong choices and the mistakes we have made. Our memories confirm what we are thinking now. When we feel different, we remember and focus on different things. When you think warm and kind thoughts about a person, you focus on all the good things about that individual and are very forgiving for mistakes etc. If a person annoys you, you find a lot of irritating issues concerning that person.
Gratitude can put us on in a great state and studies have shown it can even reduce pain. It distracts us from pain and it is believed that gratitude releases endorphins in the brain. Be kind to yourself, tune in to what you prefer and what you want to experience in life. You can control three things in life: Your thoughts, what you visualise, and the actions you take. If you do not like your current situation, make changes. If you do what you have always done, you get what you have always got. Change your habits. Change what you read. Change what you eat. Change your negative thoughts to thoughts that support you and bring you closer to your life goals.