The human psyche has so many funky
glitches that it’s a wonder we can all
can get along. Actually, on the whole
we’re having a very, very difficult time
getting along, aren’t we?
This is why positive thinking
resources are so important. They help
us remain on the positive side of the
mental equation. Still, what do we do
when negativity creeps in?
Well, negativity begins in the mind, so
let’s start with how it manifests and
then discuss steps to take that will
Negativity can spontaneously
manifest – and it often does so in a
disturbing way. You may be sitting at
lunch with a friend. Suddenly, a
thought pops into your head: He’s so
stupid. And look, his socks don’t even
match. You may be meeting with your
boss or another authority figure.
Suddenly, you feel the urge to go off,
ranting about what a horrible
supervisor he or she is. You may even
be cuddling with your romantic partner
and begin to have doubtful, negative
and unfounded thoughts about his or
Negativity can have a life of it’s own
within our psyche and we often feel
helpless to do anything about it. The
question is – what can you do to
effectively manage the negative
aspects of your mind?
Here are three ways to handle
disturbingly negative thoughts:
1. Realize that impulsive, critical and
even blatantly negative thoughts
These thoughts are not “socially
acceptable” so few people want to
admit what’s really going on in their
heads. Nevertheless, your average
person’s mind can be a steaming
cauldron of mischief. I know this from
25 years of counseling and coaching
very average people – just like me.
My clients have always been well-
adjusted, successful people with
families, jobs, business ventures and
adult responsibilities. Normal people.
Yet, when we get digging around just a
little bit, even the nicest, most
reserved people reveal a totally
different and much darker version of
This is normal, normal, normal. I’ve
never met anyone – anyone – from
the average marijuana-smoking
teenager to the most distinguished
professional who wasn’t struggling on
a deeper level with this stuff.
I remember when I first realized that
my mind was ready to go off on
people. I was standing in the office of
the Mission President in Sao Paulo,
Brazil. (I was a Mormon missionary
from 19-21 and a devout Mormon until
age 37). Through hard work and
dedication, I had risen through the
ranks and landed a position as a
special assistant to the president.
This job was the envy of all power
hungry missionaries. Anyway, there
we stood. The president was going on
about necessary changes in the field
and I was nodding along gravely.
I support you, Mr. President!
And then it hit me – the sudden urge to
punch him in the face. I noticed my
hand clenching and…. Whoa! Hold on a
second. Don’t punch your spiritual
Then the voice , “Screw it. I’m going to
lay this guy out right now!”
I said a silent prayer. I’m so sorry for
my violent thoughts. Please give me
the strength to respect my leader…
“Punch him! Punch that sucker!”
For six months I worked in the office
of the president. And for six months I
wanted to haul off and sock that guy in
the face for no apparent reason (there
was a reason – just not one I was
aware of at the time). It was
Ok? I’m a person, too. And this is all
pretty normal from my perspective. If
you are aware enough to notice your
disturbing thoughts, congratulations.
You are not alone. You’re in the
company of every other human being
who has ever existed. Trust me.
2. Thoughts are only thoughts, and
that is all they will ever be.
A thought is a tiny secretion of
neurotransmitter. They happen to the
tune of thousands per hour according
to some estimates (actually, they
can’t really be quantified since the
brain never rests and is constantly
processing an enormous amount of
data). Some of this data rises to the
surface where we give it conscious
consideration and meaning.
Isn’t it interesting that we often give
the negative stuff all the weight and
dismiss the positive? These are your
negative psychological attachments
at work. Negative attachments are
what keep us glued to inner angst.
They’re powerful. I dedicated a book
to this concept of clinging to inner
negativity. It’s real – and everyone
should be aware, as difficult as it is to
Anyway, thoughts are just thoughts.
They are neither good nor bad. They
only have the significance that you
give them. Can you stop taking them
so seriously? If you can, then you’ll
have more choice.
3. There is a solution.
It’s not a magical solution. No one
can wave a magic wand that will
clean up your mind, turning you into
pure, golden light. You’re a person;
imperfect and vulnerable.
That said, if you are willing to address
the deeper issues, then you can
achieve a purer, more relaxed mind a
lot more of the time. In my experience,
you won’t get there by battling each
thought. This only sets you up for war
You get there by dealing with your
For me, the deeper issue was one of
resistance to authority. Growing up,
those in authority over me
consistently hurt or neglected me. At
length, I came to the conclusion that
they didn’t care or didn’t know what
they were doing – and therefore no
authority figure ought to have any
power over me. In fact, I guess I
thought authority figures needed to be
These are childish thoughts from a
hurt child who didn’t understand that
my parents and older siblings were
just people struggling with their own
issues. In my child mind, I didn’t care.
I just wanted revenge. This lead to
problems throughout early adulthood.
My rebel attitude only invited more
intervention from authority – not less
-which made me resent them all the
more….vicious cycle. The Rebel is
one of the 12 attachment types that
cause self-sabotage per the AHA
Solution online program. I had to work
through this one for quite some time.
It was worth it.
Most of all, working on the deeper
issues has allowed me the luxury of a
quiet mind that rarely spins out of
control. My mind does still get the
best of me from time to time, but
nothing like before. More than worth
all the effort!
What’s the deeper issue beneath your
negative thoughts? Identify it. Name
the issue and square yourself with the
truth. Then, you’ll have your work cut
out for you. It’s doable. And a much
better path than remaining at the
mercy of your mental demons.
The human psyche has so many funky