Monday, January 24, 2011

Pulling Weeds & Planting Flowers: How to Rid Negative Thoughts and Nourish the Positive



A brain is a terrible thing to waste. A mind is a terrible thing to leave unattended. Left to its own devices my mind can become the nesting ground for negativity, and regularly time is spent having arguments with people who aren't there. Negative thoughts are sticky, they breed like bunnies in my mind. This month has been challenging. Mentally I feel like the guys from the movie "300", fighting off my neurosis instead of Persians. A harder and longer battle has not been fought in all of human existence, the fight against the angry voices of our minds. I cant help myself, it seems as if somehow I became and excellent salesman. I sell myself thoughts about awful past decisions, I replay sad events, I judge people, I sink into self-pity, I meticulously pick away at myself, and dear lord lets not even jump into the self comparisons (a deeper shitfest I could not imagine). Misery loves company, and a more seductive song than that of an angry and negative perception I have not heard.

Regularly a negative thought has not been a problem for me. Since the age of 15 I have been cultivating mindfulness, a skillful use of attention to what I am thinking about (or my inner state). My practice is not without its massive flaws, but I hold to the fact that most people pay zero attention to what is going on inside and attend to what is happening outside of themselves (the cause of suffering). My negative thoughts continued so I shut down for a few days, in total defeat mode. I laid down. I felt awful. I thought deep thoughts. I decided to face every single issue. It hurt deeply. And then I decided to pull weeds and plant flowers in the garden of my mind.


I suppose in order to understand why we have negative thoughts that stalk us, its important to understand our biological machinery. In the sphere of our mind, the brain is the machinery. It has been proven by psychologist and regular people alike that our brains have a negativity bias (google it). Our minds pay more attention and give more weight to negative experiences. From an evolutionary perspective our brains do this because back when we were cave dudes and dudettes, we needed to pay attention to the negative in order to survive. It was a decision between running away or being mauled by a tiger. So we developed neurotransmitters that relate to rewards in the past (Dopamine). Therefore you and I are more likely to not play with fire again since we got burned the last time we tried, or less likely to ask a pretty girl on a date because you had a bad experience as a teenager. The survival value of this was carried on through our DNA. It is easy to see how our hardwiring is no longer very useful. I live in Manhattan and the only tiger near here is in the Bronx Zoo. So now instead of going apeshit over a tiger potentially eating me, I go ape shit about standing in line for too long at Walgreens, or having an argument with a family member seems like a life or death stress.


Negative thoughts persist essentially because we let them grow, like weeds. Weeds are natural, they grow and will always grow because consistently there is change in the environment (weeds grow in areas that are frequently disturbed by winds and the moving of soil), but weeds often overgrow specially in gardens where they must be eliminated since they steal soil nutrients from flowers. So as life presents us with changing negative experiences we will consistently have negative thoughts. With weeds its important to pull out the root or they will keep growing back. So with our thoughts it is important to go deeper into why some negative event or thought is constantly on replay, we must dig out all the causes right down to our roots (our childhood or our past) and pull it out. 


The negative thoughts in our minds are taking up mental space that could more effectively and beautifully be filled with positive thoughts. This is the actual way to get rid of negative thoughts, by pulling those negative thoughts out by the root and planting positive thoughts instead. Whenever you have a negative thought it is beneficial to focus on a positive fact, hold on to that fact, and let it sink in. The holding on to that positive mental image enforces your brain to automatically scan for the good as well as the bad, instead of just the bad. With time this will become routine and automatic for your brain. Most of our negative thoughts are not facts but worries, worries are not real they are mental imagery, remind yourself of the pure facts and focus on what is positive.


I am still pulling weeds and planting flowers. Gardening is hard work, but graciously I do it because I will take the truth at any cost. Your happiness, your peace, your joy, your pain, your stress, and your life in general is managed by you. You and only you have the power to experience your life from a certain vantage point, therefore no one but you can show up to your mental garden. Show up and look around, please clean up while your there. I will tell you why I suffered my mental world war. On my path to becoming a better person I have faced things superficially, events and experiences that In my mental garden I just trimmed away from view. Experiences and opinions and actions that I glanced but never fully faced. Some things hurt so much we put them aside from view, we bury them in the garden, but the rain always falls to uncover our mess. I am no longer trimming weeds, I am now pulling them from the root. 


For further reading on the brain and the neuroscience of happiness read the book Buddha's Brain by Rick Hanson


10 comments:

  1. So strange this popped up after watching video's on mindfulness. I have been practicing this for years as well and can say it has been my saving grace.

    We, our minds are hard wired from years of data that is either out of date, lies, on infected with a virus and occasionally mixed with truth here and there. I like to think of my mind as a vast computer taking in information that I process and can either delete or store at this point although there are thousands of bits we take in that we are completely unaware of.

    Through different techniques and years of training my mind I have learned the art of deflecting the illusions that tries to creep in...don't get me wrong I get sucked in from time to time but can quickly dissolve the matter and see it for what it really is.

    My last blog post has a technique I have been working with and a video you might be interested in. It really seems to work and radiates to others in doing this inner work.

    Love and light to you! Keep weeding and planting!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I definitely couldn't have described it like this, but it seems I've been practicing mindfullness for a while! We all go through stress, sadness & anger, but dwelling on it just isn't my style. :o)

    Rhyme Me a Smile

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for the suggestion Deanne I will check out the post. Computer or garden alike, we always need to put negative thoughts in the garbage.

    Rachel, keep your style goin girl! lol

    Love, Raimi

    ReplyDelete
  4. I read this at such a good timing...all week I've been pulling negative thoughts from their root and replacing them with positive light.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Love your writing style, and content. Often it feels as if we have many different people living inside of us, expressing themselves in voices that seem distinct from one another. Just as often too many people let the negative voices dominate

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yes, pulling out negative thoughts can be hard, but worth it. I've even read studies that show positive-thinking individuals are BETTER at seeing trouble in their path, as counter-intuitive as that may seem. Apparently too much negativity gives people tunnel vision, so negative thinking is not more realistic (as some might think).

    http://happymentary.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  7. Love your blog, keep it comming,followed,

    http://shannondouma.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  8. Beautiful Blog. Love reading it!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Raimi,

    you have really explained the brain well. yes its right we are mostly get ourself.. in the web of negativity..I think coz. it become a habbit due to our past. exp. Its just like looking around with colored glasses...the color we see is due to color of glasses we wearing. .
    so its totally upto us what we like to see.
    Mind is the master...but we must control our desires then desires controlling us.
    Negativity is also eessential for us. .but not think too much on it good theory.
    Failures are just our stepping stones...its just we need to realize. .intead of fear face it.

    it was really a nice read.

    thanks for sharing
    take care.
    Vivek.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I love this post, very inspiring and true. If I can also share how I drive negative thoughts, I spend quiet time and alone time in a special place at our house and on its wall is an inspirational art radiating happiness and positivism.

    ReplyDelete

blog catalog

Followers

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

on top seo

Web Directory
OnToplist is optimized by SEO
Add blog to our directory.

blogfarm

The Blog Farm