Getting beyond negative thoughts

In my last post, I pointed out the unfortunate statistic that for the average person, 80% of their habitual thoughts are negative and that is the root cause of so many being unhappy. Again, the real problem with being unhappy is that it just causes you to create circumstances to support you in being unhappy. Then, when those circumstances occur, you use them to justify your unhappiness and the vicious cycle continues.

To turn this around, the good news is that you can begin to consider that your thoughts aren’t necessarily true and that you don’t have to believe everything you think. When you start to analyze your thoughts and see that you don’t have to believe them, it takes away much of their power to make you unhappy.

One of the very best techniques for doing this was developed by Byron Katie and her work is now used highly successfully by countless numbers of people. What is now called “The Work,” consists of asking yourself four simple questions about any negative thought you are confronted with:

1. Is it true?

2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?

3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?

4. Who would you be without the thought?

Then you apply a “turnaround” statement to express the reverse of your thought or belief. Then look for and find at least three specific, genuine examples of how the turnaround is true in this situation.

Let’s take a common example. You have a belief that your business cannot really expand and thrive until the economy turns around. You find yourself watching the economic news daily and you find yourself feeling victimized by the circumstances and frustrated and maybe discouraged, all negative feelings.

Doing “The Work,” you take your belief and ask is it true? Well, it may be true or it may not be true, at this point who knows. But at least you’re now willing to consider the thought that your belief is not true. Asking the second question, can you absolutely know your belief is really true? Surely no because if you look, you will see that many companies are doing great in spite of what’s going on in the economy.

How do you react, what happens, when you believe the thought that you’re a victim of the economy? As I said, you feel stuck, depressed, you’re not in action, you find yourself spinning your wheels, etc. So now you can see how debilitating this thought is. Which leads you directly to the final question: who would you be without this thought? Happy, excited, enthusiastic, in action, feeling powerful, optimistic, etc. Wouldn’t you rather have those feelings?

So now you create a “turnaround” statement to counteract the negative thought. Perhaps something like: I have the ability and power to steer my company into a bright and profitable future in spite of what’s going on in the economy! At this point, look around and find at least three specific, genuine examples of how the turnaround statement is true to anchor the statement and make it believable. How about Apple keeps making iPhones and people keep lining up to buy them, the cruise industry is going gang busters so people must have money to spend, the stock market is going up and up so there must be confidence in the future, etc. You would have to look for specific examples in your own business to validate the turnaround statement.  

The point is: you have to learn not to be at the effect of your negative thoughts because that just keeps you in a downward spiral and if this technique can help you in breaking the pattern, use it. For a more complete description of how to use “The Work,” go to