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What if I Have Loads of Negative Thoughts and Emotions?

Vidyamala Burch






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What if I Have Loads of Negative Thoughts and Emotions?

Do you find it hard to deal with negative thoughts and emotions? Vidyamala shares some practices to stay connected to inner peace.

Hi, it's Vidyamala here.

And I've been asked to answer

the question, how do I find

inner peace when I'm bombarded by

negative thoughts and emotions?

This is such a great question because I'm

sure we'll all be able to relate to it.

Certainly I can.

In this answer, I'm going to talk a

bit about evolutionary psychology,

first of all, to normalize the tendency

towards negative thoughts and emotions.

And then I'm going to provide some

practices or some tips and tools for

how you can interrupt being dominated by

negative thoughts and emotions and move

towards more moments of inner peace.

So let's start by looking a little bit

at some of the insights of evolutionary

psychology, and in particular, what's

known of as the negativity bias.

Essentially what this is saying is

that the way we're wired up to do with

our evolution is to be very alert to

threat, because of course we need to

be alert to threat for our survival.

Whereas noticing things like a beautiful

sunset, beautiful flower, these kinds of

things, in a sense from an evolutionary

point of view, those are optional.

Whereas noticing the tiger that's about

to eat us well, that's kind of important.

So our nervous systems are

designed to be vigilant to threat

as the kind of default setting.

And so I'll give you some stats

on thoughts now, which are kind

of shocking and also reassuring

if you find your mind is dominated

by negative thoughts and emotions.

And researchers think that the average

human being has something like 30,000

to 70,000 thoughts a day, certainly

tens of thousands of thoughts a day.

And interestingly, about 95% of

those thoughts, we've had before.

So we've got the same repetitive

thoughts, looping round and round.

And certainly when I watch my own

mind, that does seem to be the case.

And even more interestingly, in the

untrained mind, somebody who hasn't

learned to work with the mind using

mindfulness and compassion and to

change the default setting, in the

untrained mind, something like 75% of

our thoughts and emotions are negative.

That's so interesting, isn't it?

So if you find that you've got the

same repetitive, negative thoughts

and emotions looping through the

mind, looping through your head, then

that is indeed probably the case.

And that's because of your

evolution, that's because of the

way we've emerged as human beings

with a vigilance towards threats.

Paul Gilbert is a leading psychologist

in the field of compassion studies.

And he often talks about

this kind of thing.

And he says, it's not your fault.

It's chaotic in there, which again

is just so reassuring and fantastic

because I think many of us think we

should have a different kind of mind.

Why can't we have a lovely, loving mind?

Why can't we be like everybody else?

And we project this kind of lovely,

perfect mind onto other people.

And we think we're the only ones with

these repetitive, negative dominating

thoughts going through the mind.

So far, so normal.


We've got a mind and the mind tends to the

negative and it tends to threat awareness.

So then the issue becomes,

okay, so that's the case.

How can we cultivate more inner peace?

How can we find inner peace

when we're bombarded by these

negative thoughts and emotions.

And the good news is that

inner peace is only a breath

away, it's only a moment away.

We can drop into more

inner peace right now.

And inner peace isn't some far away

fantasy state of perfection, but

it's more like an attitude to the

mind, an attitude to our thoughts.

It's a process.

And if you've got a little bit more

inner peace in this moment than the

last moment, that's a great thing.

That's something to celebrate

and you can have even more

inner peace in the next moment.

What I'd really encourage you to do

is to celebrate those moments where

we have a taste of something that's a

bit more spacious, a bit more peaceful

than the normal, uh, mental state

with all these negative thoughts and

emotions looping through the mind.

And the main thing we need to

do, or the main invitation is to

interrupt the chain of thinking.

And we do this by coming into our senses.

One of the other interesting things

about the way we're wired up which I find

really fascinating, is we can't be in

our senses, and by that, I mean really

attending to seeing things, hearing

sounds, smelling things, feeling, touch,

or tasting things, these the five physical

senses, we can't be in the senses and lost

in thinking at exactly the same moment.

We just can't do that.

If we're coming into direct

sensory perception, it's a bit

like that fills our awareness.

So there's not much space left

for out of control thinking.

Likewise, if we're really lost in our

thinking, you'll notice that you've

got very little sensory awareness.

So they're, they're on a kind of scale.

The mor.

Your awareness is full of the sense,

the less room there is for out of

control thinking and the more you're

dominated by thinking the less room

there is for sense impressions.

So a very simple thing is

simply to come into the sense.

And of course the key

skill here is awareness.

We need to notice what our

minds are getting up to.

So say you wake up as it were,

you can sort of come to in

the moment and you think, wow.

You know, I've got a lot of

negative thoughts at the moment.

And instead of judging that you

think, okay, that's interesting.

I don't need to identify

with those thoughts.

I can just drop into my senses.

Feel the weight of the body on the

chair, rest, breathe out, and then look

around you, if the visual sense is the

one that you want to particularly enjoy.

Look out the window, maybe at

the sky, even if it's a gray day.

There can sometimes be something quite

beautiful about the gray sky when we look

at it with the right kind of attention.

Open up to sounds.

Maybe get yourself a cup of tea, a cup

of coffee, some other kinds of drink or

something to eat and just really enjoy

the taste, savor the taste, and then

notice what's happened to your thinking.

And you'll probably find that the

more you're in the taste or the

more you're in your senses, the

less dominant are the thoughts.

So that really is a very simple,

immediate, um, highly effective

way of breaking the chain

of out of control thinking.

Of course, you might find that you

just bounce straight back into the same

old mental states in the next moment.

That's pretty normal.

But the training is to notice that.

We just keep noticing

that without judgment.

Oops, there I go again.


Come back into my senses.

Oops, there I go again,

come back into my senses.

And what we're doing is were

shifting the way our brain works.

We're actually literally rewiring

our brain when we do that.

And we're cultivating a brain

that's more present, more

embodied and less discursive.

And that in itself can be a doorway

to greater and greater inner peace.

So hope you found that helpful.

Certainly I found it really helpful

just reminding myself as I talk to you.

And thank you so much for your

practice and your courage, your

willingness to look at your mind, to

own up to negativity when it arises.

And to know that there is another way

of being human, there is another way

of being present, open, receptive, and

dropping into the body and the senses.

So I wish you well as you bring all

these tips, awareness, kindness into

your whole life, and I hope it's helpful.

And please know that all these

things I'm talking to you about,

I'm also applying in my own life.

This is what I try to do when I notice

my mind is dominated by thinking I stop.

I settle.

I breathe out.

I also like to feel my weight

on the chair, feel my body,

and then open up to my senses.

And I find it really, really helpful.

And the brilliant thing of

course is it's always available.

It doesn't cost anything to

look out the window or listen

to something or smell something.

And I find it endlessly fascinating.

Life opens up into greater

and greater richness.

So I really hope that you find this

as well moment by moment by moment.

And remember, please, to be

kind to yourself, gentle with

yourself, patient with yourself.

And please remember, and I'm saying

this to myself as well, please

remember to be open to wonder.

Just to be aware of the possibility

of this very, very moment containing

wonder and the kind of mystery

of what does it mean to be alive.

Endlessly fascinating.

So thanks again for listening and

I wish you all the very, very best.

Included in

Q&A on Inner Peace null Playlist · 5 tracks

Q&A on Inner Peace

Playlist · 5 tracks4.9

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