My negative thoughts felt like a pretty great defense. It made me feel safe. I felt that if I could pre-empt people’s mistakes and mitigate the risk – I could step in and avoid pain. It helped me keep an uninvested distance from people in my life, a shield to protect my heart. Focusing on people’s faults kept them at arm’s length. The invisible (but rather vocal) negative thought guards (NTG’s) happened to work 24/7. They never slept much or had a tea break.
Here’s one of them illustrated for you:
In the past I would write negative thoughts in a diary. A sort of ‘Secret Truth Diary’ which (I thought) helped to ‘keep things real’. (I mean – how else was I to keep track of everybody’s shortcomings!) :-/
Dear Diary, it would say, today I’m so over it, this person is the absolute pits, if only they would LISTEN TO ME! Great, this person has gone against me again!… I’m going to have to… He’s totally forgotten his promise to… blah, blah, blah otherwise, this is my future, and it sucks!…blah, blah…
Harboring negative thoughts seemed harmless. I felt I ‘needed’ to vent! It seemed therapeutic to let off steam to my friends, my journal, or whenever I’d had too much to drink. But – I was wrong about it being a harmless secret. I was wrong that it was helping me. Those thoughts give off a vibe, and more than that, they have a habit of slipping out when you least expect it. Ultimately I hurt people I cared about and hurt myself the most. This vibe is like a shadow casting itself over your life and relationships’. It leaves a mark on people’s experience of you. It shows in your body language, aloofness, and eye-rolling. When I realised negative thoughts poison things I was embarrassed and mortified. Things changed when I started to convert negative thoughts into positive statements. I’ve kicked negative assumptions out of the building but I still deal with the occasional NTG. Just last week, someone diced with death and said:
‘You’re so unprepared!’ – (when they noticed I didn’t have a bottle of water with me).
The old me would take that as a criticism, I would then have negative thoughts about them being cold-hearted and flawed for saying ‘such hurtful things’. I’d have defensively said ‘how dare you speak to me that way’. (and possibly some swear words.) Now thankfully, I examine my feelings before responding. I ask myself – why am I feeling criticised? Is this person’s intention to be critical? Then realise this person was looking for a way to help me and not intending to be critical at all. In other words, I looked for their real intent behind the words. I ask myself, what does their heart want right now? Instead of taking it personally, I said, ‘Thank you for helping me’. Obviously, in the movie where I say ‘How dare you…’ the relationship between us became fraught, confusing, and ended with more arguing, and I left. In the movie where I say thank you for helping me. The emotional safety is protected! (And I was hydrated all day!) On a serious note; he felt needed and appreciated and I felt dignified for seeing him in the best light: as my hero ensuring I had water for the day ahead.
As Fiona Lukeis says:
When a relationship has built a history of doing conflict well (and this applies to any type of relationship), people relax, they feel safe around each other, they know their frailties are safe, that when they show their insecure side (which is what our frailties are; merely temporary feelings of insecurity), that relationship can get to the other side of a disagreement without residue.Source: https://www.fionalukeis.com.au/relatable/
When a relationship doesn’t build this history, each time they experience conflict, a small notch in the “I don’t think we are a good match” or “We are too different”, belt grows.
Shifting negative thoughts and feelings into positive ones has made life feel lighter. I couldn’t do this without practice, without gaining knowledge about what universally motivates people and how they communicate. Self-nurturing also helps squash NTG’s, take a look at the self-nourishment I revolve me life around here for inspo. I’d highly recommend keeping an eye out for those negative thought guards – they tend to multiple into small armies when you make a big commitment towards a fellow human, like marrying or moving in together.
I believe their boss is called: FEAR.
I wrote a little bit about fear in my article: Abundance vs Scarcity.
If you’d like to learn how to use your negative thoughts to your advantage – don’t be shy – send a message via the Contact page / don’t forget to subscribe to catch all the juicy articles coming up.
© Morvana Zaahira Goodman 2021