The hidden cancer destroying men is not a disease of the cells, but of the mind. Are negative thinking and destructive toxic thoughts stopping you reaching your potential? You need to take notice ...
The post modern craze around positive thinking can sometimes make me want to run the other way. On social media, I am bombarded with post after post that suggests that thinking positively will solve all my problems and is the answer to life, love and happiness. Quite frankly, I turn off. But the success of something counterfeit is proportional to how closely it matches the real thing. So while the whole positive thinking thing is certainly overdone, the idea of replacing negative thinking with positive thinking is something we need to take notice of and practice.
Why? Because there is a hidden crisis defeating men like you and me, and negative thinking is not just negative, it is toxic.
It drives a man to rage against his wife and kids, it can drive a man to drink, drugs, illicit sex, and gambling, and it can even drive a man to suicide.
Maybe you are not at the stage of killing yourself, but negative thoughts may be stopping you from achieving your best. They could be damaging your relationships, stopping you getting ahead at work, preventing you making that career change you desperately need or maybe just robbing you of the joy of life.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Turning Around Negative Thinking is Not a New Idea
I had a chuckle to myself recently when I read in a life coaching text that Socrates was the originator of self-examination.
The unexamined life is not worth living -Socrates
That is said to have been uttered by Socrates at his trial for impiety and corrupting youth (for which he was found guilty and executed).
But thousands of years before Socrates, another wise man said something similar in Proverbs 23:7.
As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he – Solomon
And in the New Testament of the Bible Paul wrote in Ephesians and in Romans that we must be “transformed” by the “renewal of your mind”.
So while indeed we are bombarded with people telling us to “think positively”, we need to remember that in fact, the idea of replacing negative thinking with positive thoughts does have something in it that we should take notice of.
Defeat Negative Thinking
I’ll come right out and say it. The good news is that negative thinking does not have to defeat you. You can defeat it.
In this podcast episode of Real Talk 4 Real Men, I outline 8 key steps to defeating negative thinking.
Check out the podcast here:
In this episode, you will discover:
> How a man now with 4 kids almost never was because negative thoughts nearly cost him his life
> What to do when you are faced with the most challenging circumstances
> Why having a reason to defeat negative thinking has to be your first step
> Plus 7 other key steps to stopping negative thinking from stopping you.
Here is the link again:
These are the steps:
1.Have a BIG reason WHY!
Before we can create lasting change, especially from an embedded habit like persistent negative thinking, we need to have a compelling reason why. Call this having a concise and clear vision for a better future. Ask yourself some questions:
“What will a change in the way I think do for me?”
“If I don’t change things, what will my life be life in 2 or 5 years time?”
“What are the possibilities if I defeat my negative thinking?”
So what is the transformation you seek and what will it do for you? If you firm this up before dwelling on the ‘how’, you will have made the first step. If the vision is a specific one that you care about, it will touch your emotions, swell up passion, and get you across the setbacks.
Dream. But dream as Andy Stanley suggests in his book Visioneering,
“Not just on what things could be, but on what they should be” – Andy Stanley
By the way, Andy Stanley’s book on developing a personal vision is high quality. You can get it from the Real Men 24/7 shop here.
2.The fulfillment of that change & vision takes time
Don’t be discouraged when time passes with seemingly little change. Understand that change takes time. Vision takes time. Sometimes, a long long time. If you need proof, check out the stories of many many and woman who had big dreams, be it Abraham, Joseph, Nehemiah, … or modern heroes like Edison, Martin Luther King Jr, the Wright brothers or Mother Teresa.
Don’t be discouraged, but keep the vision alive. Remind yourself of it frequently and take steps to be ready when the opportunity comes.
3.Make it personal.
We love to change others don’t we, but you need to resist the temptation to stand on a soap box and instead devote your energy to changing ourselves. I feel like I am writing to myself here as I write this now, because I have by no means completed the change I seek. However, the principle is this:
You can change you, not others; but change your thoughts, and the world might follow – Guy Mullon
Change your own thinking, and do not try to change others.
So what about others? Over time, as the changes you have made show through in your own life, others will notice. Some will be impressed and ask how you changed. Then you have the opportunity and freedom to tell them. Until then, focus on you. Make your vision personal.
The fourth key is a simple but vital one. You need to choose to take a positive approach to a problem or situation, not a negative one. That is your choice.
How often do the same circumstances hit two people, but one responds in such a way that they are able to turn the negative into a positive, while the other wallows in defeat!
Choose. Choose to not be defeated by circumstances, negative thoughts, feelings of failure. If you don’t choose to try and win, then you will forever be defeated and have to live with wondering what might have been.
5.Believe before it happens.
Allow yourself to believe. Muhammad Ali did this brilliantly … believing he WAS the best before he was. His actions then followed his beliefs. We can’t achieve until we believe. You can read more about this winning attitude here or by clicking on Ali’s picture.
Napoleon Hill’s quote – “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve” is not one I fully agree with, but it is right in that it implies that you have to conceive what it is that you want to build before you can make it a reality.
The Wright brothers had to conceive the mental picture of them flying.
Thomas Edison conceived the idea of the light bulb before he built one.
Go and believe the changes that you seek.
6.Make sure what you seek is possible
You will become discouraged and be worse off than before if what you seek is not really possible. Yes, aim high, but the change you are seeking must be obtainable by you. If this is turning negative thoughts into the positive version, then you should be good to go. If your new thoughts become a vision for a new future, make them plausible.elievable and obtainable by you for your own good.
Nehemiah from the Bible had a big burden on his heart to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. This seemed an almost impossible dream because he was exiled in a foreign land working for a king who was a descendant of the one who knocked them down in the first place. And where would he get the resources from? But he believed it was possible, and then he did step 7.
7.Take small steps forward.
Nehemiah had that grand vision of rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem. But how would it happen? It was a massive task. He did what he could and left the big problems to God. He controlled what he could control. How did he do this?prepare, plan, pray …. small steps to keep moving forward. Be ready.
Nehemiah could only do two things; pray and prepare.
Nehemiah prayed patiently for God to work on the roadblocks and to provide him with the opportunity to make his dream come true. In the meantime, he prepared himself for when that opportunity presented itself.
When God finally provided Nehemiah with the opportunity to present his case to the King – he was ready. he had done his homework and he was ready.
“Climbing a mountain begins with one step.” – Bear Grylls
Prepare, plan and pray may be all you can do. They are small steps, but even climbing a mountain begins with one.
8.Get into community
We can not be islands in this world if we are to be effective, purposeful and successful men. We need others. Others need you. Do you need a reason? Ok, here is one.
It takes a period of time to change a habit. The more ingrained it is, the longer it takes to change. Neural networks need to be rewired. Your automatic tendencies need to be redirected. Having a friend who knows your struggle and cares for you will help you keep going to get the change done.
Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. – Proverbs 19:20
Allow yourself to be accountable to another who is trust worthy and wise. This could be a friend, it could be your partner, your pastor or a life coach. Accountability will help you get to your goal faster.
Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. – Proverbs 13:20
Don’t be a lone soldier, get into community with other men.
On A Personal Note
Negative thinking is toxic. You can defeat it.
All the above steps will help, but there is one more. Don’t just latch on to any thought. The answers to life’s most difficult questions and doubts don’t come from within you. Our thoughts, feelings, and attitudes are not reliable. They can deceive. You and I need something surer, more secure and more reliable than ourselves to draw our answers from.
As for me personally, I latch on to the promises God has for me and my life. I seek God’s vision for my life, I believe the things He says about me because they are true and Jesus is the one and only one who has the power to keep them. In a world of shifting sand, there is only one rock who can stand against the storms of life, and his name is Jesus.
He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be shaken. – Psalm 62:6
And so I use the above strategies to combat my negative thinking, but it is underpinned by the faith that the God of Heaven has my back. I hope that is something you can say too.
For more on the promises of God, check out these resources:
Enjoy! and may your mind be renewed this week, and have victory over your negative thought life.