I talked to a friend of mine today who has recently started sounding like Eeyore, you know, the depressed little emo donkey from the 100 Acre Woods. I know that that sounds judgmental, and it probably is, but I mean nothing malicious by it. I’m making an observation about someone who has started to habitually look for the worst in the world.
“I can’t call him, he probably wouldn’t answer.”
“I can’t go out, my car would probably break down.”
“I can’t make friends…”
“I can’t look for a job…”
“I can’t choose…”
Halfway through a twenty-minute conversation, I began to count the can’ts, nos, and nots. I hit twenty-nine. Twenty-nine dismally negative thoughts in ten minutes.
This woman is a generous, kind, beautiful, and intelligent woman, but her habit of seeing the negative can be draining – on herself and everyone around her. Life is not going to be all peaches and cream, and there are going to be days when we aren’t feeling very positive. We all have times when we need to vent, complain, be critical, and even whine. Do it, get it out of your system, and then move on. Don’t let it become a habit. This type of habit can trap us, drowning our enthusiasm, sapping our energy, stealing our time, and isolating us from others.
If this type of thinking is interfering with your life, now is a great time to start changing it. Getting started can be easy if you understand one basic rule of being human. That rule is: You will find what you are looking for. That’s not something from an armchair psychologist or a trendy fortune cookie, it’s a fact. As humans, we see a lot of stuff in a day, a week, a life — but we often only acknowledge those things that support what we already believed in the first place. Let me restate that:
You will take to heart those things that support your beliefs and you will tend to overlook the things that do not.
Let’s say that you believe that no one likes you or wants to be around you. You call up a friend and ask her to meet you for lunch. You expect her to turn you down before you call. When you call she says she can’t have lunch with you because her schedule is so busy.
You were looking for proof that she didn’t want to spend time with you, and you found it.
However, if you believed that people like you and enjoy your company, you might have found proof of that in your friend’s tone of voice when she sounded so miserable that she was going to miss lunch with you.
It stands to reason that we should be careful of what we are looking for since we are almost guaranteed to find it. You might think you are looking for friends, but if you fear that you’ll only make a fool of yourself, then you’re actually looking for proof that you are a fool. You might think you are looking for a job, but if deep inside you believe the search is hopeless then you are looking for all the ways in which it is hopeless. You might think you’re looking for romance, but if some part of you believes that you are unlovable, then guess what you’re going to find?
If you find yourself steeped in negativity, it might be time to examine your beliefs. With a little effort, you can change the things you are looking for from negative to positive – and that could change your life.