Rising above one’s own negativity

Re-posted from an answer I gave today at Quora.com …

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The Question: What is a process to delete negativity from mind completely? I want to delete past (negative) thoughts.

Gus’s response: Your brain (mind) practises a constant filtering of things it wants to think about and doesn’t want to think about at the instinctive level. If it didn’t carry out this continuous selection process much faster than conscious thought, the conscious You would be bombarded with so much mental stimuli that you couldn’t function at all – a condition psychiatrists call hyperthymesia (literally “excessive remembering” in Ancient Greek).

If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts or remembering the negative aspects of past experiences more than you want to, this is because your instincts are causing you to focus on this type of mental content in preference to other things.

Trying to delete or negate negative thoughts doesn’t work – it only serves to fix the mind’s attention on them even more at the instinctive level. The more you resist them, the more your attention is grabbed by them.

Another way to look at it is that you’ve got a bad-memory-dwelling habit. I’m sure the psychologists – who love their labels – have a fancy name for such a condition, but we’ll keep it simple with this simple name. The thing about a habit is that it is controlling you, when really you should be controlling it.

So the real solution here is to coach the instincts which control where your attention goes to change what they are selecting to focus on. In other words, to change what they are filtering in and filtering out.

The first step in that direction is to start strengthening your ability to direct your attention where you want it to go instead of disliking where its already going but not knowing what to do about it.

Many meditation techniques improve ability to direct attention: to focus, in other words. I’ve tried many of them in my life and about 20 years ago, not satisfied with the speed of improvement I was getting from them, I developed a new approach (based on the latest understandings of how instincts work) to turbo-charge my own focusing ability. This technique has since helped thousands of people with problems similar to yours.

I recommend you try it out – Attitude First Aid – (blog readers can find it here on the Library page.

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