Negativity: Another Useless Tool From Evolution

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For some reason, it’s so much easier for me to replay negative events that happen in my life than it is for me to focus on the positive. At a given moment, my mind might be on overdrive, ruminating over my near-accident because someone cut me off in traffic, the time I played the wrong note in my sixth grade band rehearsal (embarrassing), why I don’t want to go out to dinner with my successful friend because I always end up feeling inferior (oh, and here are the reasons why I’m inferior…), or the one thing my boss said I needed to improve on even though 99% of what was said during our conversation was positive.

Obsession over things I interpret as negative is yet another one of those things which I lovingly term, “useless evolution tools.” Among these useless tools are our sweet tooth and penchant for a fatty diet – held over from a time when food was scarce and ye olde cavemen needed to survive. These days, I don’t need to get ice-cream every time I go to the grocery store, just because it’s there, nor do I need to hunt for my food or make cave drawings.

As for negativity, there’s no doubt that I could do without the constant stream of shoulds, coulds, and faults that my mind comes up with daily. So, I got curious as to what causes this constant focus on negativity, and found that apparently, I’m not alone in this phenomena.

There have been numerous studies about this – what psychologists call, the negativity bias. According to Professor Clifford Nass, a professor of communication at Stanford who studied this human trait, “Negative emotions generally involve more thinking, and the information is processed more thoroughly than positive ones. Thus, we tend to ruminate more about unpleasant events – and use stronger words to describe them – than happy ones.” One possible explanation is based yet again, on human evolution – namely, the need to survive. Hunters who remembered the way their friend got eaten by a saber-toothed tiger might be a little more careful on their next hunting expedition or decide to use a different path.

Unfortunately, knowing the reasons behind it doesn’t make negativity any easier to combat. Luckily, I have developed some tried and tested strategies for making it all go away – at least for the next five minutes. Try them yourself. They just might make break you out of your doomsday mood.

1) Unplug. There’s a reason the news mostly focuses on the negative – it sells. There’s nothing wrong with being aware of world events, but notice how your mind and body react to this constant barrage of news. Practicing a 24- or 48-hour technology fast can help bring you back to what’s real, true, and most importantly, good in life.

2) Remember this saying: “The only constant is change.” No matter how bad things seem, things are guaranteed to change. Quietly affirm, “I am not stuck in this situation.” There is always an out, but sometimes, things do take awhile to shift. Try to be patient and distract yourself in the meanwhile.

3) Re-frame and re-direct. When I can’t shut off my brain, I write, go for a walk, read a book, watch a happy movie, or do anything positive to get my mind off things for awhile. In today’s world of goal-setting and multi-tasking, it seems like relaxation is at best, a luxury, or at worst, a sign of laziness. However, we all need a rest and sometimes it’s okay to take a break, especially if it helps to shift your mind into the positive.

4) Be grateful. Yes, I know – gratitude has been mentioned so many times that it’s started to sound cliche, but in truth, when we practice gratitude it makes whatever is happening right now seem not so bad. So your boss is a jerk and you’ve given up hope of finding a new job? Be grateful that you are still employed and able to pay your bills. Gratitude is one of the easiest ways to shift vibration, which will help you attract more of what you want instead of more of the same.

5) Let go. There’s a common rule surrounding brain psychology and that is, whatever you try not to think about will automatically be pushed to the forefront. For some reason, when told not to think of a pink elephant, that’s the first place our mind goes. If I had to guess, I’d say that was another useless evolution tool, but it’s with us anyway. So, instead of trying to stop the negative stream of thoughts, encourage yourself in a dialogue. For instance, if you’re on a tailspin about how rude the clerk at the store was, how you’ll never shop there again, their products are overpriced, etc. STOP, and ask yourself some questions.

You could ask, “Why am I so angry at this event?” which would uncover old emotions, feelings of being hurt, guilt at how you might have treated people when you were a store clerk, etc. At which point, it’s time to let go. Another helpful question that stops me right in my tracks when I get caught in the negativity spiral is, “Is this really true?” Sure, I might think so and so is a jerk, but what about all of the kindness they’ve shown me in the past? Or, I might think I’m fat and I can never stick to a diet plan, but what about the time this week when I chose to bring salad to work instead of buying pizza? As mentioned in my previous article on afformations, questions are a great way to get around your brain’s current circuitry and re-wire it towards the positive.

We can all agree that it’s easier to be negative than to remain positive. In some ways, I think we’ve created a culture where positive people are seen as exceptional, unrealistic, or somehow different than the rest of us. Whatever comes up, my task is not to judge it, but instead, to focus on what it is I want. If I want happiness and positivity than I’ve got to reach for it. Only then do I have a chance to achieve it.

*Clifford Nass quote and the phrase, “the negativity bias” were sourced from the 2012 New York Times article, “Praise is Fleeting, but Brickbats We Recall,” by Alina Tugend. If you’re interested, you can find it here.

Why Lack Persists Despite Positive Thinking

Lately, I’ve been feeling slightly embarrassed about my beliefs. I have a wonderful husband in my life who is the epitome of a logical thinker, friends who would rather stay stuck in their experience than believe that something like angels or affirmations can help, and a whole society of people dedicated to laughing at New Agers or anyone who decides there’s more to life than what we see in front of us. Understandably, I’m sometimes hesitant to share what I really think.

But more than the fear of people thinking I’m nuts for being into this “woo woo” stuff, one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced as someone who believes in the power of thoughts to change our lives, is the question, “If the Law of Attraction is true, did starving children in Africa attract their situation through thoughts of poverty?” Another variation of this question is, “Did someone who was raped/murdered/insert heinous crime here attract it?”

These are great questions, because they get into some of the complexities of the Law of Attraction that are often overlooked. It’s true that our thoughts (via emotions and actions) create our lives. Generally speaking, the more we focus on the positive, the more positive we attract. However, it’s also true that the environment, choices, and consciousness of those around us also impacts us. This is another way of saying that not everything is within our control.

Marianne Williamson has a great quote on this. She says,”Starving children in Africa are not poor because their consciousness is unaligned with love; they’re poor because ours is.”*  Her idea is that, because most of humanity is focused on lack, struggle, and hatred, we have yet to find a solution to end world poverty.

It’s important to note, however, that this does not mean that an answer does not exist. We are simply blinded to it because humanity is not yet ready to embrace love. In the Western world, we simply accept the reality that most of the people outside of the West are poor, and it is this acceptance that makes the difference.

Indeed, consciousness and choice are the foundations of our reality. Fortunately, we can choose to think differently, to rise up, and stop accepting the reality we face as truths. This is as applicable to world poverty as it is to being overweight or lacking money. In each instance, there are “truths” that have been accepted, and because they have been accepted, there is no room for growth or potential.

I was thinking today how so many of us have bought into the “reality” of how the economy is failing, growth has been slow, etc. It seems as if the economy is being blamed for everything. Can’t find a job? Blame the economy. Can’t sell your house? Blame the economy. Lost a game of chess? Blame the economy. Okay, I’m just kidding about that last one (sort of).

What if, just for one day, we stopped blaming the economy, we stopped blaming each other, and we all took responsibility for our own thoughts and actions. What if we stopped accepting the “reality” of poverty, violence, and lack. And, what if we did this, not just for one day, but for a lifetime. Well, folks, then we’d all be a little bit closer to walking the spiritual path.

The question is, Are you up for the challenge?

Don’t forget, the more the merrier. Share this article with a friend. It builds good karma points. 🙂

*Marianne Williamson quote from her book, “The Law of Divine Compensation.”

 

Working with Angel Numbers

It’s easier to believe in spiritual guidance when have personal experience with it. Sure, someone could tell you that the world is abundant or that angels are here to guide you, but if all you experience is loneliness and lack of money, positive statements will seem irrelevant. The thing is, just like affirmations and the other spiritual practices I discuss, you have to take action to get results. angel-1107707_640

A good place to start is online. It’s easy to find videos, meditations, and messages from the angels on Google and YouTube, and while it may at first feel strange or seem totally weird to ask an angelic being for help, it sure beats staying in the muck of negative thoughts which does nothing but prolong our experience of lack, worry, and desperation.

Like most things in life, the more you practice, the easier it becomes. The truth is, while we were all born alone, there is no reason we need to go through life feeling lost or lacking in guidance. Angels have specific assignments and job descriptions, and because they are spiritual beings, there is nothing they cannot do. The key, however, is that angels will only act on your behalf if you ask, and that includes sending you messages.

Asking is very simple, and I’ve found that it need not involve any sort of complicated rituals or purchases. I strongly believe that within each of us we already have the ability to connect to angels and spiritual guides. Once you talk to your angels, which is really as simple as saying, “Angels, please connect. I need help with… (then state whatever your problem is),” then you must let go and be willing to receive guidance.

Sometimes solutions will appear in ways you hadn’t expected. Angels are very practical and willing to help in things like manifesting parking spaces in crowded lots, healing illnesses, or creating ease in your workday. Once you make the connection, your angels are more than willing to help by sharing messages with you, and the best part is, they will continue to help you as long as you keep the connection open.

One of the most common ways angels send messages to us is through angel numbers. If I’m having negative thoughts at work or generally feeling down or nervous, my angels usually show me 444 or 111 when I look at the clock, as gentle reminders to release my negativity. Repeated numbers such as 111, 333, or other number patterns are reminders that we are connected with spirit and that our angels are here to guide us.

Here are some of the most common angel numbers and their meanings, courtesy of Doreen Virtue, author of “Angel Numbers 101.”

11, also seen as 1:11 or 111: Your thoughts are manifesting into form at record speeds. Monitor your thoughts carefully and be sure to think about what you want, not what you don’t want. I often take this to be the angelic version of, “Don’t worry, be happy.”

222: Your newly planted ideas are beginning to grow into reality. Keep watering and nurturing them, and soon they will push through the soil so you can see evidence of your manifestation. In other words, don’t quit five minutes before the miracle. Your manifestation is soon going to be evident to you, so keep up the good work!

333: The Ascended Masters are with you, desiring you to know that you have their help, love, and companionship. Ascended Masters are believed to be spiritually enlightened beings who in past incarnations were ordinary humans, but who have undergone a series of spiritual transformations to reach enlightenment and take ascended form. When you see the number 3 around you, call upon the Ascended Masters such as Jesus, Buddha, or Mary to help you.

444:  A simple message: Don’t worry. The angels are surrounding you now with love, help, and guidance.

555: A major life change is upon you. Do not judge it as “positive” or “negative,” but see it as part of life’s flow. This change may be a much-needed answer to your prayers.

666: Your thoughts are out of balance right now, focused too much on the material world. The angels ask you to focus on spirit and being of service, knowing that your material and emotional needs will be taken care of as a result.

777: There’s a reason 7 is seen as a “lucky” number. 7’s mean you’re on a roll! Keep up the good work and know that your wish is coming to you. A series of 7’s is a positive sign and you should expect more miracles to occur.

888: This is a sign warning you to prepare for the ending of a particular phase in life. Seeing 8’s might signal the ending of a relationship or career that wasn’t in your highest good. It also means there is light at the end of the tunnel. Prepare, make plans, and don’t procrastinate in taking action towards your next move.

999: Completion. This is the end of a big phase in your personal or global life. 9 series is also a message to energy healers and lightworkers to get to work because Mother Earth needs you now.

000: A reminder that you are one with God and to feel the presence of the Creator’s love within you. Also a sign that a situation has gone full circle.

Know that these numbers are guidelines, and at the end of the day, use your own intuition and guidance to see what feels right for you. The fun part is, the more you reach out to your angels and ask for help, the more angel numbers and other signs will begin to show up for you. That means less worry, less stress, and knowing that no matter what, you never have to face life alone.

You Did What!? What To Do When People Question Your Sanity

 

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Unless you live in a vacuum, it’s likely that you’ll encounter people throughout the day. For spiritual, empathic types, it can be hard to deal with other people’s energy, especially if you’re actively trying to create something new in your life.

We’re told to create vision boards, to feel the excitement of your dream coming to fruition, and for a lot of people in visualization mode, it’s tempting to share your goals with others. After all, if you’re really excited about a new career, becoming healthier this year, or any other momentous goals, surely the people around you will be supportive, right?

So, you start telling your co-workers that you’ve applied for that new job. You tell your husband that you submitted your work of art to the local art gallery, or otherwise made it known that you’re actually making progress towards your goals. But instead of greeting you with a big hug and a, “Congratulations!,” you end up receiving a barrage of reasons why it won’t work, why you shouldn’t get your hopes up, or why your plans for success will cost you more money in the end than it’s worth.

Hopes dashed, you simper into a corner and think, “Maybe they’re right. Who am I do that anyway?” As Henry Ford famously said, “Whether you think you can, or you can’t – you’re right.” The thing is, as much as our society values achievers, if you start to rock the boat and release the status quo, you might find resistance.

It’s not because your friends and family don’t care about you. Actually, they most likely resist because they DO care about you and they don’t want to see you get hurt. Your moving ahead can seem threatening and cause those around you to examine their own dreams, and perhaps become a little resentful because of the dreams they let slip by.

So what do you do? If you’re still in the visualization/creation stage, your best option is to keep it to yourself. By all means, visualize, write out your dreams, and continue to take actions towards your goals, but don’t tell everyone about it. Instead, save your precious energy for taking action and let your results be evidence in itself.

If you must tell someone, pick a select few who you know believe in you and will be supportive. As harsh as it may sound, that might not be the people closest to you, especially if they have a hard time believing in or accepting the idea of conscious manifestation. I often find support through online communities (like this one!) or at retreats and workshops that cater to spiritual concepts.

Finally, be gentle with yourself. This rule applies to almost anything in life, but especially when you’re just getting started on a new manifestation. Remember that we’re all human. Create your own inner strength and don’t stop believing in yourself, even if no one else yet believes in you.