“When you see someone putting on his Big Boots,” exclaimed Winnie-the-Pooh, “you can be pretty sure that an adventure is going to happen.” Pooh enthusiastically expects his life to be filled with friends and honey pots.
Pooh’s optimism is quite different from the bear described in Around the Year with Emmet Fox: A Book of Daily Readings.
The bear in Fox’s story discovers a big kettle filled with boiling water. He grabs the kettle and water scalds him. The bear panics and tightens his grip on the kettle. The longer he holds onto the kettle, the more badly he is burned. The vicious cycle continues “to the undoing of the bear.”
When we hug excruciating memories and allow past mistakes, disappointments, criticism, and failures to rain on today’s parade, we prevent ourselves from experiencing what’s right here and right now. We think we may be able to figure out a different solution or a more logical outcome when we watch painful reruns of the past. In reality, we get burnt.
Albert Einstein once offered this definition to describe the process of “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” He called it “insanity.”
If Life invites you into an exciting journey of dreaming and pursuing your passions every day, why would you want to sabotage yourself? Why would you intentionally hug the kettle … knowing the physical, psychological, and emotional consequences that result from embracing scalding water?
Negative thoughts provide a dandy range of self-destructive excuses which include the following:
- Focusing on negative thought provides an excuse to ignore responsibility. If your thoughts make you feel angry or resentful, you don’t have time to turn your attention to tasks and risks which move your dream from thought to reality.
- Focusing on negative thought allows you to give up. Turning a spotlight on bitter resentments that prevented you from reaching your goals in the past guards you from fear of starting over and risks that might result from failing again (but negative self-talk also prevents you from applying what you learned to experience success).
- Focusing on negative thought creates more of the same. Expecting the past to repeat itself prevents you from moving forward and taking action. When you allow yourself to reenact the same sad, painful scenes from past experiences, you invite more sad feelings into your present circumstances.
If you want to move out of the past and into your destiny, you must begin by changing your perspective.
Years ago, I did not know I had the power to change my own thoughts. My negative thoughts had a big, scary roar and a voice that I thought was bigger than me. It was quite a surprise to learn that the voice on my internal tape was mine and the negative thoughts were as strong as the power I gave to them. My friend, Rev. Carla McClellan, calls negative self-talk “monkey mind.”
Simple changes that shift our perspective and get us back onto the track of our own dream include:
- Begin a gratitude list. You can consciously change your thoughts by focusing on all of the things for which you feel grateful. Gratitude opens your mind and heart to new possibilities and opportunities.
- Take action and do something. When voices from the past penetrate your thoughts, do something. Walk the dog, listen to music, take a bath, call someone. Select an activity that makes you feel good.
- Create positive affirmations. Kathleen Hall, Ph.D., insists positive affirmation restore self-confidence. In her book, A Life in Balance, Hall states, “Research tells us that every thought and emotion creates a chemical reaction because it immediately changes our neurochemicals that affect our mental, physical and spiritual health.” Post affirmations in places where you will often see them. Several of my favorite online passwords are positive affirmations.
- Engage with positive people. I learned how to take good care of myself by watching and mimicking the examples of positive role models. I discovered they were optimistic and simply did not allow negative self-talk to distract them from what they valued and what they wanted to do. I modeled their behaviors and, as a result, I began to feel positive about me and my own life.
- Take part in active service. When you call a family member, volunteer at church, or check in on a neighbor, you become more focused on the needs of others.
One of the most effective tools we can use to diffuse the voice of self-doubt and resentment is found not in revenge (as the media suggests) but in forgiveness. Forgiveness releases you from the bondage of the past.
Archbishop Desmund Tutu insisted, “Forgiveness says you are given another chance to make a new beginning.” Lewis B. Smeed, author of The Art of Forgiving, said, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you.”
Worrying about past mistakes or future negative outcomes of events that haven’t happened yet robs you of joy. Worrying is another way of praying for what you don’t want. Focus your attention instead on what you want to experience.
You can reprogram destructive self-criticism and replace it with words of love and kindness. Negative self-talk is a little mouse with a big microphone. The mouse’s voice is only as strong as the attention you give it.
To borrow words from Christopher Robin to Pooh, “Just remember, you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
How can you replace an old tape with a new message?
Are you ready to make a change in your life? Begin with these tips from What You Must Let Go to Move Forward.
Replace negative thoughts with positive affirmation. Discover how to Put the Positive in Your Affirmation.
Find 8 Ways to Feel Positive (Even When Everything Seems Wrong).
Get inspired with wonderful words from 11 Inspiring Quotes When You Need Encouragement.