Our materialistic, grasping society compels us to reach for the expedient – at least, when framing our thoughts. It’s interesting how disciplined we are in other areas of our lives: e.g., exercise regimens, food intake, and personal hygiene, while all the while allowing our mental storehouse to fill with the unwanted – that which grows exponentially on a diet of pejorative feeding. Reaching for displeasure is like conjuring a self-inflicted hex that attracts more of the same. In seeking the “what if” of any situation, do you immediately fixate on the potentially catastrophic? Is the majority of what you ruminate on designed to bring you unhappiness? The self-imposed astral travel of negativity can become a never ending journey.
A conscious recognition and tracking of our thoughts (with the same diligence with which we view our banking account and retirement portfolios) will result in less of the unwanted in our lives. Associations, entertainment, and vocations provide the scaffolding upon which we craft our beliefs. Periodically, these need pruning to ensure that the self-destructive is not setting up shop.
To check if you’re on the right track with regard to mental cleanup, try keeping a log of every negative thought that enters your mind. In Loving What Is, Katie provides a dynamic process for deciphering if your ruminations are “keepers.” She suggests asking yourself the following four questions, a process she refers to as “The Work.” These include: (1) Is it true? (2) Can you absolutely know it’s true?; (3) How do you react when you think that thought? and (4) Who would you be without that thought? Lastly, she suggests engaging in the turnaround process, in which we invert our negative suppositions: e.g., “My friend is not a nice person” could become “I’m not a nice person;” “My friend is a nice person,” or “I’m not nice to myself.” Searching for confirmation of these new found beliefs helps to cement the process, and to reorient our thinking. If the opposite of your initial belief could be true, then this evidence gives you control – because you acknowledge responsibility in the process. Katie describes the turnaround as “Your prescription for health, peace, and happiness” because it replaces an element of conflict between you and a person/situation, and between you and the thought which initially caused the problem. Much of our pushing against is in fact negative projection.
We control our minds’ joystick, choosing its feelings and reactions in each moment. If the majority of what we think is not pleasing, we must ask ourselves, “Do we really enjoy this state of affairs?” It seems insane to continue in a cause of action that’s self-destructive, continually churning the past until we find a self-righteous spiteful nugget. Forgiveness, and shifting our focus to the sacred may be a much needed intervention. It all boils down to how we ultimately want to live – realizing that poorly chosen fertilizer results in an unattractive garden.