“An attitude of positive expectation is the mark of the superior personality.” ~ Brian Tracy

Have you ever noticed how negative emotions can completely consume your reality and how strange, frustrating or hopeless everything seemed at those moments? I know from the feedback that I am getting to this site that many people would like to break out of the cycle of continuous emotional drama and finally overcome negativity.

The Purpose of Negative Emotions & Negative Thoughts

I believe negative emotions do serve a purpose. Their purpose is to signal us that something is not working. Negative emotions are a feedback system of our brain, similar to feeling pain, with which our brain tells us that it is time to make a change.

That doesn’t mean that you have to follow every negative emotion and dive into them with everything you’ve got. I personally try to get aware of the emotion and then, if possible, use that energy towards what I think is going into the right direction. You can’t and shouldn’t suppress the emotion, but when you get awareness about it, you then have a choice to follow it or to use it as the signal it is as described above.

What is Negativity?

Now negativity is something different. Negativity begins when we not only use those negative emotions or thoughts as a signal to act, but also keep on repeating them. Negativity is the dwelling and almost cultivating of negative thoughts and negative emotions. It is when negative thoughts become a bad habit. And the sad part is, it mostly happens on a completely unconscious level. So how can you get control over your negative thoughts and negative emotions and turn them into something more positive?

The key to overcome negativity is as always: awareness.

1. Awareness of what negative thoughts are doing to you

Negativity can be a real pain in the neck and keep your mind busy in the most unpleasant way. It can seriously pollute your consciousness and destroy any productive ways to make progress in your life. Notice what effect negativity has on your life, your relationships, your success, your peace of mind. Thoughts are creative and the more you dwell on the negative side the less you are able to attract the positive side.

2. Awareness of why you are negative

By far the biggest reason for negativity is the need to be in compliance with your self-image or your image of the world. If you have a negative self-image for whatever reason, a logical way to be compliant with your self-image is to project out negative thoughts and emotions.

The key to overcome this negativity is to change your representation of yourself and your world. Easier said than done, I know. But that’s why we are here. So progressively building up positive states and with it improving your own self-confidence is one way out of this pattern. There are countless other reasons why you have negative thoughts, doing self-reflection regularly can give you the awareness on why that’s the case and also the push to change it.

A second big reason is just learned negativity. People around you are negative, you see a bunch of negative news in TV etc. That’s when you have to raise your awareness and make a conscious decision to not jump on that train. Overcome negativity by surrounding yourself with positive people. Feed you brain with positive and awareness-opening material (as you’re doing right now!) and avoid polluting yourself with those negative news and messages.

3. Awareness that you have a choice

That’s the key point of this post. You can choose your thoughts, or better: you can choose which thoughts you want to follow. You are not your mind. You have to train your awareness up to a point where you can use your gap between thoughts to choose which thought to follow. If you notice a negative thought or emotion, try to get the message of it as described above and then make a choice not to feed that thought and emotion. Focus on something else and change your state actively.

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  1. Comment by TheDude

    TheDude Reply October 11, 2012 at 9:26 am

    I especially struggle with repeating negative thoughts. So you are suggesting that I become more aware of them and train that… hm ok I’ll try my best. Thanks for this tip, Myrko.

  2. Comment by Myrko

    Myrko Reply October 11, 2012 at 9:27 am

    @TheDude: Yes, I think the more aware you are the easier it gets to dissolve negativity. Good Luck!

  3. Comment by Roshmi

    Roshmi Reply October 13, 2012 at 11:01 am

    I used this “awareness of choice” today and it worked. Thanks Myrko.

  4. Comment by Sarah

    Sarah Reply October 14, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    I really liked how you stated the value of negative emotions is that they serve to trigger change. I’m going to try to be mindful of that, when I feel negativity to look for how to move toward something more positive rather than dwelling on the misfit of the moment.

  5. Comment by Myrko

    Myrko Reply October 14, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    @Sarah: Yes, if you are aware of what is happening at this moment you can turn the negative impulse around and use it as a catalyst for change.

  6. Comment by Glynis Jolly

    Glynis Jolly Reply October 17, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Excellent post. I think many people who are in the field of life coaching avoid what is negative. I’m not sure as to why this is but I’m sure they could give reasons. I like the angle you have put to this subject.

  7. Comment by Myrko

    Myrko Reply October 17, 2012 at 8:30 am

    @Glynis Jolly: Most likely because they want to induce only positive vibes. But as a matter of fact, negative thoughts and emotions happen all the time. So I think it’s important to find constructive, supporting ways to deal with them.

  8. Comment by Johnny Salter

    Johnny Salter Reply October 17, 2012 at 9:10 am

    I try not to ever think about the future, beyond today anyway. I’ve never planed 1 thing more than a day or 2 out and it actually comes to pass, ever. I know thts hard to believe but its true. It actually almost destroys me to think about that. I know there are people in Zen who can plan something and if it flops they have no attachment to it. I lke this line from the book Zorba The Greek.

    “This is true happiness: to have no ambition and to work like a horse as if you had every ambition. To live far from men, not to need them and yet to love them. To have the stars above, the land to your left and the sea to your right and to realize of a sudden that in your heart, life has accomplished its final miracle: it has become a fairy tale.”

    I am learning to stay away from hope and fear.

    I llike how Byron describes it:

    But what is Hope? Nothing but the paint on the face of Existence; the least touch of truth rubs it off, and then we see what a hollow-cheeked harlot we have got hold of.
    Lord Byron

    I fear nothing. I hope for nothing I am free. Zorba

    Nothing has ever been as painful for me as knowing full well nothing I plan will work. Unless an idea just pops in my head and I do it. Ever so often I let myself fall for the great whore hope and plan something and it naturally fails. And I am devastated. The most recent episode I did’t really function normally for about 2 months.

    .I did read an uplifting quote that I believe this morning from Thich Hanh. It is similar to hope but it is not. “Thanks to Impermanence Everything is Possible”. That’s not saying what I desire to happen will happen. Its just a possibility that it might. Because existence itself is impermanent.

  9. Comment by Myrko

    Myrko Reply October 18, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Johnny sounds like you are living right in the present moment, which is just awesome. Many people would love to be in your place, I know that. :-)

  10. Comment by Zaykira

    Zaykira Reply December 22, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    I am struggling with this to the point where I see the end. I wish I had the proper resources to fix this. It is really bad.

    I have nothing. It’s really sad when you’re homeless in your own mind!
    -need help

  11. Comment by Myrko Thum

    Myrko Thum Reply December 29, 2012 at 10:03 am

    @Zaykira: You have a lot resources, you may just have to realize and unlock them. With this site and the free newsletter you have a lot of my best insights for free. Maybe start there and never give up!

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