Being kind with our unkind demons
Negative thoughts are our unkind demons popping up all the time out of our subconscious or from nowhere. Hundred of thoughts belong in this category: anxiety, guilt, poor self-image, hatred, regrets, etc....
They disturbed us to the point that we repeatedly tried to get rid of them through any means possible such as denying, resisting, trying to fix, or ignoring by any escaping means.
But, despite our best efforts, they persisted or come back all the time.
The following Zen approach to our negative thoughts seems to be counterintuitive but has been proven
effective as long as this approach is understood and properly practiced all the time.
It is based on the following concept:
Our mind, like a coin, has 2 emotional sides: one made of positive feelings, the other of the negative ones.
We cannot block either one the same way that we cannot erase one of the coin’s sides.
These seemingly dark thoughts are here to stay forever.
Here is the trick: they are calling us to pay attention and listen to them as an integral part of our emotional self because they feel isolated and rejected.
How to do it?
Again, positive and negative thoughts are natural phenomena generated by our emotional mind, and yet,
we have no issue with our positive thoughts but we despise our negative ones.
This duality is the root of our struggle and not the dark thoughts by themselves.
When a dark thought appears, I’ve learned to soften my approach and offer acceptance, attention, and compassion to my negative thoughts.
The thought is not, anymore, an enemy, a demon but just an entity coming from my mind.
Being friendly and compassionate with our negative thoughts and feelings may seem illogical, even absurd but the practice calms me as I stop struggling.
With this mindfulness-based approach, you’re directing kind awareness, acceptance, and compassion toward persistent negative mental activity.
By doing so, you are creating a more effective, constructive, and more positive relationship between your genuine self and your negative emotional mind.
Here are a few steps to support this mindfulness practice:
Thich Nhat Hanh described the approach as follow:
Take several conscious breaths and allow your body to settle.
In a mindful way, and intentionally bring your current unkind demon without any analysis, judgment or decision. Do not try to be your own psychiatrist.
Acknowledge its presence, then express acceptance, compassion, and kindness. It should not be confused with masochistic behavior, which is a pathological disease where the patient is seeking pain to generate pleasure.
Transforming this foe into a friend seems to be very weird indeed and absolutely illogical.
This is why this approach is difficult to accept and to put into practice.
As you use the approach systematically, you may discover, as I did, that these tenacious negative thoughts represent an integral part of the self that needs to be acknowledged and accepted.
Kind awareness toward our unwanted demons will go a long way and will be more effective when other traditional approaches are unworkable or failed to achieve a positive result that is seeking and achieving
emotional harmony, equanimity, and serenity.
We are just adding positivity ( kindness) to negativity (demons).