Thinking about thought

I’ve been thinking about the power of thought quite a lot lately. I feel like this past 12 months has been a watershed in what I’ve learnt about myself and other people. It’s like something has clicked. I read a tweet today from action for happiness: “Life is happier when we let go of trying to control what happens and focus on choosing how we respond to what happens” That tweet resonated with me because it enforces what I had been thinking in relation to the power of our minds to define our own happiness. I’ll try and explain what I mean.

I’d always been a person ruled by my emotions and I genuinely thought that was the best way to be. Surely our emotions are our true feelings and we should be honest at all times and led by the heart. I thought that editing my response to situations or people would be me faking it. I’ve prided myself on being authentic. I’m a bullshit free zone. I am straight talker. I don’t have a hidden agenda. I don’t have the ability to self-edit (which has got me into trouble in the past). I thought that if we over think or go against our gut then we’re not being true to ourselves, right?……

One of my closest friends said to me this year that I’m a negative person and that had made it difficult to be around me. Gotta say I cried for days about that comment. I literally thought I was the worst person in the world. I had to be, my best friend had said it, so it must be true. How had I gone all these years without realising what a bad person I am? How hadn’t I noticed how negative I am? Why hadn’t anyone told me? My emotional response was to cry, feel upset, ashamed of myself for the impact I’d had on people I love, and beat myself up about something I hadn’t realised. After a LOT of self-reflection about the things she had said, I realised that my emotional response wasn’t necessarily appropriate.

So am I a negative person? Well, absolutely! I can be from time to time. I think everyone can be. Am I more negative than the average person? Absolutely not! Not at all. I’m actually pretty positive on the whole. I’m able to see the positive in most situations. About 2 years ago, I was trying to illustrate to one of my clients that there is always something positive to been seen in every situation, it’s how you think about it that counts. 

“What happens when someone dies then? There’s nothing positive about that!” he said indignantly. 

It threw me off for a second. The guy had a point. “Ok” I said. “I understand why you would think that and I’m not denying that death is a terribly upsetting and traumatic experience. The way I personally choose to look at it is that my Mum died when she was 56, that wasn’t a good thing on any level, however I was lucky to have had those years with such a loving person. The thing that I got from it, is the ability to feel gratitude in a situation that could otherwise break me as a person.” I think he understood where I was coming from.

So I guess that’s the point. My best friend said I was negative, I thought about it from lots of angles and actually I’m rejecting her statement. I don’t agree with it. I’m not doing it because it’s something I don’t want to admit to or face up to, it’s because her truth isn’t my truth. All that upset has been resolved by the power of thought and fighting emotions that weren’t based in fact. Is that being fake? No, it’s being reflective, self-aware and logical. What I got from her negative comments about my character, was the opportunity to think about myself in a different light and that can only be a good thing. More and more I am believing that we can shape our own happiness. It’s far from easy but it is possible. What immense power and control we have over our own lives, if only we used that power more often and in a more positive way.

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