Self-punishment often hides out as self-management—that's why it's crucial to approach negative thinking with gentleness.

“Did you bring a gun to shoot me today?” When she recoiled, I explained to the HR person interrogating me that this was my doctor’s cute way of asking if I was terminating therapy.

I probably shouldn’t have mentioned it during a job interview, but my potential employer was asking me if I ever had a difficult encounter with a medical professional, and I blurted it out. It tends to happen when I’m overtired or under pressure. I blurt, then the negative thought cascade begins “Why did I say that?!” “Now I’m probably on the CIA’s psycho-nut-case-stopper-list.” “Now they’ll be no more cross-border bargain, ANYTHINGS!” “Ever. EVER!”


I notice how crucial it is to approach negative thinking with gentleness. This is easily said, but self-punishment often hides out as self-management, which only makes these rusty-razor-sharp thoughts and feelings whirl even more.

These thoughts kick my butt whenever they spring up but the evidence suggests that however compelling, thoughts are not facts. As a mindfulness teacher, this is one of the go-to ideas I share with my students and one I try to remember when negative thoughts tornado through my brain like a thousand tiny children screaming for the return of their Halloween candy. (Sorry ‘bout that kids, stay tuned for my piece on mindful eating.)

I notice how crucial it is to approach negative thinking with gentleness. This is easily said, but self-punishment often hides out as self-management, which only makes these rusty-razor-sharp thoughts and feelings whirl even more.

Chances are, every moment won’t be mindful. Sometimes we’ll blurt, or trip, or squash ourselves and others.

When my mind is especially wild, it can be difficult to find an entry point for practice. For me, even at the best of times, cultivating gentleness is very challenging. It takes patience, but I’ve discovered that as I get in touch with my breath I can tune in to what’s activated inside me—like maybe, perhaps, possibly, somehow how terrified I am to be welcoming the sensations that accompany these thought-bullies.

Chances are, every moment won’t be mindful. Sometimes we’ll blurt, or trip, or squash ourselves and others. It can feel horrible to welcome brutishly unpleasant sensations of mind and body. Learning to go softly can make it easier to recognize that these negative thoughts are very familiar and seem to rush in when one’s energy or mood is low.

Funny thing, I never did hear back about that job. Eventually, I figured I wasn’t going to hear, when she hadn’t, didn’t, wouldn’t return any of my phone calls, emails, tweets and shout outs.

Ah, well. In difficulty I gently come back to my breath. My breath is my refuge, my place to notice and release harsh thoughts as they try to imprison and torture me, over, and over. And that’s a fact.

Refferal: http://www.mindful.org/stop-negative-thoughts-from-getting-you-down/

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