Perhaps, the most challenging part of my journey recovering from Parkinson’s has been dealing with my thoughts. Quite often I find myself in the midst of a seemingly random negative thought pattern. Just a few months ago I was admittedly very mired in negative thoughts, dwelling on the progression of the ever worsening symptoms I was experiencing. It got to the point where I started having panic attacks. Thankfully, I put that behind me, although I still continue to experience negative thoughts.
Negative thoughts are very destructive. They cause stress and stress works against you when you’re working on recovering your health. Stress acidifies the body and contributes to poor gut health, a weakened immune system, inflammation and a clogged up lymphatic system, all the things we need to rectify in order to be healthy. So it’s important to deal with them effectively.
There are days when I wake up and my mind is filled with creative ideas. Other days, it is awash in negativity. Something has been bothering me perhaps that I don’t feel comfortable talking about. Sometimes, it’s just random negative thoughts. Sometimes I’m fussing over those damn Toronto Blue Jays, blowing another baseball game! Just kidding! Thankfully I don’t take baseball that seriously anymore! Try as I might to bring my mind to the present moment or think about something more positive, I constantly find it leaping cleverly back into the dark zone.
Why is this the case?
Well, according to research, negative thoughts are quite normal. The human mind processes thousands of thoughts over the course of a day and for most people, the vast majority of these thoughts are negative. Perhaps this is due to the negative energies that are floating around in the universe. Negative energies are like a patch of oil on water. They float around contaminating everything and the larger the patch the more they contaminate. Aside from negative energies, there are a few other factors at play:
- the false beliefs of the egoic mind
- unresolved emotional pain
- unexpressed opinions and feelings
- being around negative people
The egoic mind, according to Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now and A New Earth, is simply our conditioned negative thinking, resulting from our life experiences [or how we interpreted our life experiences]. Our experiences may have taught us to feel like a victim. They may have taught us to believe that money is the root of all evil, that we are inferior or inadequate or a coward, that we are unlovable, that God is evil or that the world is a dangerous place. We could have learned any number of false, debilitating beliefs and these beliefs shape our thoughts.
Unresolved emotional pain, or the pain body as Eckert Tolle describes it, also affects our thought patterns. If we are holding on to shame, guilt, bitterness, etc., our thoughts are bound to be negative. In Step 5, we discussed how to let go of unresolved emotional pain.
Living in fear also effects how we think. If we are afraid to be alone or afraid of being without money or afraid of being hurt or afraid of being humiliated, etc., it is bound to affect our thinking. But here’s the thing, as we discussed in Step 4, fear itself is just faulty thoughts and there are a number of ways to overcome them.
When you have unexpressed opinions and feelings, chances are, you will be dwelling on them, fussing over them, and it likely will not be in a positive way. The simple solution here [well it’s simple to say it] is to express yourself, which may mean having to overcome your fears [see previous paragraph].
Spending time around negative people, particularly your parents growing up, can greatly influence your thinking. My parents, God bless them, were very negative and critical, and I often find myself doing the same thing.
I have become very diligent about keeping my thoughts positive. But they can be sneaky rascals. I could be working away at the computer, perhaps typing a blog, and the next thing I know there are negative thoughts flowing happily through my mind [they’re happy, I’m not!].
So how do we go about eliminating negative thoughts or the very least minimizing their destructiveness and our preoccupation with them. First, it is important to remember that they are normal and you can choose to acknowledge them without taking them seriously. They’re just thoughts. They’re not real!
Second, choose to live in the present moment. When you live in the present moment there is no thinking. There is simply experience! The problem is that the negative thoughts will continue to find their way into your mind and in order to minimize this you can take steps to dissolve the ego and let go of emotional pain and fear. And this takes work. It takes commitment and it may take professional help.
It is also important to speak your mind, especially to those negative nellies who like to spend so much time in negativity. When you speak your mind you don’t hold on to things. You don’t hold on to anger or bitterness. You let go of frustration. And this helps to keep your thoughts positive. You may also have to distance yourself from the negative people in your life.
Negative thoughts will most certainly sabotage your best efforts to recover your health, so it is really important to minimize them as best you can and at the very least, not take them seriously.