Negative Thinking – Your Worst Enemy

Note: This is a guest post from Mark Harrison of Effortless Abundance
First – a sweeping statement. Everyone wants success and happiness. We might not agree about what this means – each of us defines ‘success’ and ‘happiness’ in a different way – but everyone aspires to these things. Yet for so many people, happiness and success are elusive, and we can spend a great deal of time looking for the answers.
For many years I was an avid collector of ‘self improvement’ books – I have several hundred in my collection – and yet, however many I read and enjoyed, I never seemed to get closer to finding what I was looking for. I was looking in the wrong place, of course. I was looking outside when the key was within me all along.
There is nothing wrong with self-help books: they can be entertaining, inspiring and challenging. But they cannot change you. What changes you is the realization that you are in control.

What you control is your mind. What we focus our attention on grows and becomes a more important part of our experience. Many – perhaps most – people tend to focus a lot on negative things. We fret about the past, about missed opportunities, mistakes and failures, we fear the future with all its uncertainty; we worry about our relationships, our investments, and our security. We compare ourselves to others in an unfavorable light, and we fear that we are inadequate. These negative thoughts continually arise and, with attention, they grow and persist.
This kind of thinking is poison: it is corrosive, toxic, destructive, and we need to purge ourselves of it. To attract more positive experiences into our life – to become truly happy and successful – we need to eliminate the negative thinking which, for many of us, has become such an integral part of our life. It’s not so much that we need to ‘think positively’ so much as that we need to drop the habitual, negative thoughts that swirl around our head and make up so much of the background noise in our lives. I am convinced that our natural, ‘default’ state is peace and happiness, and that success comes easily if we have nothing blocking the way.
Dropping negative thinking is, in a sense, very simple. Just don’t do it any more. Take your hand off the stove. And yet we are so used to inflicting this kind of pain on ourselves that just ‘letting go’ can be extraordinarily difficult.
One of the most important and useful things to remember is that your mind is a tool. You are its master, not its servant, so you should take control. Remember that thoughts are not reality. Although we often seem to think that our thoughts are reflections of the way things are out there in the world, the reality is that our thoughts shape the way we experience things. We could say that the world we experience is an echo of our thoughts, our inner reality.
Be vigilant and be diligent in being aware of your thoughts. When you spot a negative thought, just drop it. Just stop thinking about it. Switch your attention to something else if you have to. At first, it might be difficult but, as with everything else in life, gentle persistence will bring results. With practice, you will be able to uproot the old, harmful thought patterns and catch negative thinking before it takes hold.
One of the most wonderful books I have ever read is Awareness by Anthony de Mello. The message is simply that being aware of our negative thinking will change it. Instead of identifying with the negative thoughts in our head, we can be the silent observer, watching the thoughts and deciding, consciously, what to do with them. The only sensible option is to drop them. Why let them dictate how we feel? Why let them determine our happiness?
It is possible to be at peace, to be relaxed and happy and to enjoy every situation in life. It is possible to be successful easily and naturally. It’s all about maintaining the right mental attitude and knowing how to deal with the thoughts that come into our mind. So why waste another moment on negative thinking?
Mark writes for a number of sites around the web. Check out his site and his new book, Thity Days to Change Your Life.
Photo by Kevin Tiqui


  1. Hi Mark,
    what great thoughts on controlling the mind to keep away from negativity. You are so right by stressing the importance of controlling our thoughts! May I add another aspect of controlling thoughts: one’s reaction to impulses from outside. For instance: someone makes a nasty remark, our first reaction could well be to say something back, even nastier perhaps. Such a reaction could trigger a string of undesired events, and later it would certainly influence our thoughts in the wrong way. When confronted with negative remarks from others, we do well to realize that we are free to determine our own reaction. We can control our reactions if we really want to.
    Kind regards,

  2. Hi Mark,
    Most of the negative thought we have are related to our past experience. The failures we have had, for instance. The thing is that it can be very difficult to be positive for the future actions knowing that we have failed in the past.
    I think that being conscious of what we are thinking and being aware of our negative thinking can really make the difference. We must be listening to ourselves all the time.

  3. Thought about past ‘failures’ can create a kind of groove of thought, a script which we keep repeating. Yes, it can take some time to replace this script with a more empowering one. But once we become more conscious, it isn’t too hard to do.
    Thanks, Isaac.

  4. Nice post. Indeed – just dropping a negative idea is a powerful action. We can only think about one though at one time therefore we have complete control and power over what we think about – if it’s negative, it only takes one though to wipe it clean.

  5. Great post Mark. You made so many good points. Negative thinking really is what can hold us back and prevent us from doing what we are really capable of. It is so easy to fall into the trap of and we have to choose to continually guard our thoughts so they are not susceptible to being overcome with negativity. This is probably one of the most important things we can ever do and if we are able to control the stories we are telling ourselves and positively shape our thoughts, life really does begin to unfold the way we want. It is by all means easier said than done, but once we make the choice, we are able to take control. Thanks for sharing your insights.

  6. wonderful and useful post Mark. Thanks for your post

  7. That “groove” is a tricky one. I drove my truck to the very place of some of my greatest failures and successes. It was strange. I choose to learn from both.

  8. Hello Mark,
    This is a great post! I love how you used the stove as an analogy about how, when thinking negative thoughts, we are inflicting pain on ourselves and we become so used to it that simply removing the pain is not as easy. We all need to more positive especially in the world today. Thanks for reminding and encouraging us all to think positively!

  9. thnx a lot….. my attitude s getting shaped after reading tis post….

  10. The title could be better if you change it to Positive Thinking – Your best allied

  11. GREAT ARTICLE! Another great book that isn’t really a “self-help book” is “Tuesdays with Morrie”. The idea of awareness reminded me of Morrie’s idea of detachment. Acknowledging the emotion one is feeling makes it easier to detach from that feeling…I’ve found that experiencing a feeling and saying to myself for example, “I am feeling lonely”, makes it easier for me to let go of that feeling once I am aware of it.

  12. Out of all the self-help advice I’ve ever read, this has helped the most. In fact, somehow the simplicity and sensibility of this article has managed to greatly change my life for the better. In short, what I should really say, rather than carrying on any more, is “Thank you”.

  13. Yes. when you bring awareness in the realm of mind what is positive “grows” and what is negative “vanishes”.
    i like J.Krishnamurthi. his teaching is all about awareness. his book “choice-less awareness” is enlightening.

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