Question: Can negative thoughts be overcome?
Yes, of course our negative thoughts can be overcome.
The great master of yoga Paramhansa Yogananda, made an interesting statement in this regard.
He said, “Thoughts are universal, not individually, rooted.”
What this means is that there are no new thoughts. Our thoughts merely reflect states of consciousness that exist eternally. The new discoveries that scientists make, similarly, are achieved by tapping into eternal truths.
So – if you can change your level of consciousness, you will find that your thoughts also change.
A person who is depressed sees in every situation “good reasons” for continuing in his state of depression. If that person receives good news and feels suddenly hopeful, he may now see all kinds of reasons to be positive. Nothing has changed – except his state of mind.
Yogananda said, “Conditions are always neutral. They seem to be happy or sad depending on the attitudes of the mind.”
Instead of trying to change your individual thoughts, one by one, it is more effective to work directly on your state of consciousness. By regular spiritual practice – meditation, study, prayer, chanting, and affirmations – you can achieve a great deal.
When you work to change your thoughts, instead of concentrating on what you don’t want to think, focus instead on the state of consciousness you want to have. Dwelling on our negative thoughts merely gives them more energy.
Here’s a suggestion. Choose one or two chants, or an affirmation that speaks clearly to your goal. Every time a negative thought intrudes on your consciousness, repeat the affirmation, or sing the chant, with full willpower – aloud if possible, but silently if necessary – until the negative thought has no space inside your mind to live.
The techniques of meditation – especially those which, like Kriya Yoga, work directly with energy – are designed to shift our level of consciousness to the higher centers of awareness in the spine. When, for example, we are able to move our energy and consciousness into the chakra opposite the heart, we find automatically that we are unable to think unkind thoughts – because the nature of that center is that it is a channel for God’s boundless, expansive love.
One of the most difficult aspects of getting rid of negative thoughts is persuading ourselves that we really do want to get rid of them. We say that we want to get rid of them, but they must be serving us, or we would drop them like a hot potato.
All states of consciousness, including the negative have a certain drawing power. When our feelings are negative, the mind persuades us through false reasoning that we should stay there.
Again, instead of engaging each thought, it’s far more effective to wage war against the entire concept of negativity. Treat each thought that wanders into your mind as a mortal enemy that must be banished instantly! Don’t entertain negative thoughts even for a moment! Go after them with the mighty sword of your chant or affirmation as if your life depended upon it – because, in fact, it does.