Discover Your Brain Strengths to Navigate Life
Many practitioners of positive thinking “hit the ceiling” after making notable progress. Don’t be alarmed or disturbed. First, give yourself a big pat on the back and be grateful for the gains you have made. You’ve already proven to yourself and others that safe, practical neuroscience practices work. You may be ready to displace a big obstacle that frees you to attain high-altitude positive living.
The #1 Obstacle to Positive Thinking and Living
The #1 obstacle to positive thinking and living is judgment. It’s mostly an unconscious state of mind that inputs, creates, interprets and expresses beliefs, values and mental models that impede a positive mental attitude. We all have and hold judgments (reactions from prior programming and life experiences); some give us positive outcomes, others yield negative effects. The ones that yield negative effects are the ones eligible for displacement.
Forms of judgment are many and varied. They include developing quick and faulty opinions with little reliable information, taking a hard-line position and then defending the position or attacking others having contrary opinions. Another form of judgment comes from buying into another person’s negative programming, without holding his or her beliefs up for scrutiny. Perhaps the most devastating form of judgment is self-judgment; this includes holding and internalizing personal guilt about something you think you did wrong or should have done differently. Blaming and condemning others for their acts is also deleterious to one’s positive mental state. Judgment escalates and gets stronger when other people support your opinions; this is where righteousness sets in and often becomes as solid as concrete. Thankfully, all forms of judgment that yield negative outcomes can be dissolved and displaced without dynamite or war.
You may experience internal resistance to analyzing your judgmental nature; this is expected because of the innate nature of the ego. Mr. and Ms. Ego thrive on being “right;” it’s a major source of distress and discord in relationships and causes blockages to achieving peace of mind and manifesting good things. The truth is that an ego that is less judgmental and dominant is a happier ego; this is subjectively experienced by practicing the suggestions that follow.
The Course In Miracles (published by the Foundation of Inner Peace) is a book to assist its readers’ practice of non-dualistic forgiveness in everyday life. Lesson #121 states that “Forgiveness is the key to happiness.” Forgiveness may be your big solution to chronic fear, anxiety, depression, relationship problems, career blocks and general unhappiness brought on by judgment. Even “conditional forgiveness,” (e.g. forgiving some people and situations, but not everyone and everything) results in more positive thinking and favorable living.
The first step to displacing judgment and being more forgiving is to understand more about how our brains work. The second step is to practice simple and safe methods that expand positive thinking for a better and more peaceful life.
There may be more going on than what you see, hear and think. Your brain programming, from childhood to the current moment, drives your behavior. If you are attacking or defending a position or condemning/judging people, you are likely “under the influence” of prior programming. When assessing individuals and situations, there is virtually no way of knowing the full context, concealed prior events, people’s true intentions, and what they are thinking. Even if you are “right,” holding on to anger, resentment, and negative feelings does no good for anyone.
Ask: What’s going on here? What are my feelings? What beliefs do I hold about this situation? Are my beliefs serving me well? Is there something new I can learn? Could it be that I am mistaken? What might bring me clarity and peace of mind? Can I release my negative emotions and move to a more neutral place?
Remember: There’s more going on “under your hood” and in the brains of others than you can ever comprehend. You are only taking in small microbursts of information because prior programming filters and distorts what is going on.
Actions: Suspend judgment by putting your brain in “neutral gear.” Ask open-ended questions, listen, observe, and learn. Keep an open and flexible mind. Give yourself the gift of changing your mind if new information and thinking yields better outcomes. Rather than attack and defend, role model your beliefs in ways that no one gets hurt.
Everyone is doing the best they can. The first qualification to this statement is that people are doing the best they can based on their states of mind, environment, awareness, available resources and choices; this includes you. The second qualification is that everyone is capable of doing better; this includes you, as well. Positive change comes from up-shifting thinking and behaviors to higher levels. The process requires letting go of outdated beliefs and replacing them with ones that serve you and others better. If this were not true, how else could the human race attain higher levels of peace, happiness and quality of life? By accepting this logic, even partially, you are on the pathway to suspending judgment and entering into the world of forgiveness.
Ask: Am I being unduly harsh on myself and others? Can I accept that everyone is a work in-progress? Does my judgment of myself and others help or hinder? Am I willing to give myself and others an opportunity to improve? How would I feel if I experienced growth and improvement?
Remember: Everyone is doing the best he or she can, despite outward appearances. Anyone can improve if they see the benefits, are in a positive state of mind, and have support and resources. We are all works in-progress; some people are much further ahead on the continuum of development than others are. There are always people behind and ahead of you.
Actions: Suspend judgment. Move toward forgiveness by being nicer and kinder to people you disagree with. Show respect and try to understand their points of view. It’s possible that these actions will up-shift them to higher-road thinking and behaviors. Focus on self-improvement rather than on trying to change others; this “butterfly effect” will surely make a difference.
Special Personal Note: The most important person to forgive is yourself, regardless of what you may have done or didn’t do; acknowledge it, claim responsibility and then let go of the guilt, knowing you did the best you could. Then, take positive action to correct the wrong by using higher-road behaviors as a way of life. This simple sequence off-loads tons of guilt and elevates your self-esteem.
In summary, continue improving your positive mental attitude with foundational “high-road” affirmations, positive self-talk, and by reversing negative thoughts to their positive counterparts. When you “hit the ceiling” and progress is impeded, examine your programming that creates different forms of judgment. Practical neuroscience principles and The Course in Miracles demonstrate that “forgiveness is the key to happiness.” Suspending or completely eliminating judgment skyrockets you to high altitudes of positive thinking and living. You can do it!
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Great post! It certainly is important to remember that in the face of negativity, the other is trying to go on the road to positivity/fulfillment. I try to counter negativity now by trying to help the person understand the source and convert that energy into positive and fulfilling actions. If you’re trying all the time to get the best out of others then you’re thinking positively 😉
I agree 100% with you Dave. The world needs more positive thinking people like you. I wonder how many of us it takes to establish a critical mass for more observable positive change?
Thanks for your comment. Much appreciated.
Happy New Year,
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