Dear Mr. Morton- I am in my late 20’s and think often of negative thoughts, including a demoralizing upbringing by overly-critical parents. How can I think about happy things when negative thoughts keep surfacing? Could counseling help? Any tips? - S.J., Bay Village, Ohio
Dear S.J. - We, on average, have about 50,000 thoughts enter and leave our mind each day. If we weren’t able to naturally dismiss them we would be swamped in confusion, anxiety, and overstimulation. We all possess a natural ability to be selective about the thoughts we dwell on. Why not make them happy ones? If you dwell on thoughts that interfere with your emotional well-being, dismiss them. The truth is that all of us have the power to dump any thoughts that we want to.
The expression “time heals all wounds” is another way of saying people get over painful memories because they washed the painful event from their minds, over time. But, is it merely the passage of time that enables us to deep-six painful musings? If it were, we’d all get over painful thoughts at the same time…but we don’t. I remember a D.O. medical doctor tell me that developing a strong and positive mental attitude has helped his patients more than any wonder drug.
Some dwell on trifling mental aches for a lifetime while others abandon torturous memories quickly. It seems that some have learned better than others that humans become what they think about…or don’t think about. Choosing to dismiss painful thoughts makes them feel healthier and happier. They make a habit out of the process. They recognize that the traumatic incident (s) is dead and gone in the real world, so why let it breathe and resurrect itself in their minds?
If you seek counseling, determine if the counselor will force you to relive your negative upbringing. If so, you won’t be able to go through the above-mentioned process and matters may get worse. It’s an inside-outside process. By changing the inner attitudes of your mind, you can change the outer aspects of your life. Think the 20/80 percent ration: briefly discuss the past hurts (20), then spend hours analyzing what’s right in your life and how you can improve it (80). Your 50,000 daily thoughts will develop into happier ones.
Lastly, visit the Family Journal for free videos and more free article on this topic.
Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. has retired from his positions of School Psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership & Policy Studies at Bowling Green State Univeristy. A portion of Ad sale revenue from this site is donated to Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America. Concerns about family, parenting, educational or personal issues? Contact him on the secure Bpath Mail Form.