“Once our minds are ‘tattooed’ with negative thinking, our chances for long-term success diminish” John Maxwell
When people talk to me about worries they have about the future, I notice they are constructing a picture in their minds of a difficult, painful or otherwise challenging situation. The woman who is divorcing may picture herself as a bag lady forever living all alone. Parents with preteens may dread the coming years as they visualize power struggles, attitude and worries about drugs and alcohol. Someone facing a busy time at home or work may see themselves being stressed out, exhausted, and cranky.
When we engage in this kind of thinking we are actually programming ourselves to have negative experiences. We expect the worst, look for the worst, and sure enough, experience it as the worst, even if it is not quite that bad.
The problem here is that we make ourselves anxious or depressed long before the time we are dreading even comes. Sometimes it does not even come, and then we were all miserable and negative for nothing! If we do this about many issues in our lives, we can make ourselves unhappy almost all the time. If we share these thoughts with others, we can drag them down into our unhappy state as well.
When we talk about visualization we usually think of it in a positive sense. For example, we may visualize the perfect golf swing, or see ourselves attracting abundance into our lives. This can be a powerful process.
Unfortunately, negative visualization or programming often happens somewhat unconsciously. We are aware we of what we are thinking, but not conscious of the fact that we are creating a powerful visualization, but one with negative consequences.
If we tend to think this way about ourselves, we may inadvertently program others to think negatively of their futures. A spouse or child may have an idea, and we tell them that will never work. Just because we cannot envision a positive outcome for their idea does not mean they cannot. Foisting our negative image onto them may cause them to begin to have doubt where before there was none.
There is that expression, “be careful what you ask for…” We need to add another one: “be careful how you picture your future.” If you find yourself holding a negative image, stop yourself instantly and replace it with a positive one. You might just be surprised at what you create.
Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning Psychotherapist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books or cds, visit www.gwen.ca