Thoughts Get in the Way

A Great Idea …

“Frequent and intense negative thoughts about the past are the raw material that blocks the emotions of contentment and satisfaction, and these thoughts make serenity and peace impossible.” (Psychologist Martin E. P. Seligman in his book, Authentic Happiness, p. 76)

In Other Words …

Rumination is a name for reprocessing our pains. Rumination is similar to what some mammals such as cattle and sheep do to digest their food. They swallow food, soften it in the first stomach and then regurgitate it to chew it some more. We humans occasionally do something similar psychologically. We process a painful experience and send it on to memory. Sometime later-probably when we’re feeling distressed–we bring the memory back to mull over. Often we start stacking our complaints. This destroys relationships and personal peace. Dwelling on the problems of the past can rob us of our futures.

How this Applies to You …

The next time you find yourself caught up in a negative thought, stop the thought. Find a new way of looking at the situation. Consider the other person’s point of view. Check your expectations. Ponder how you may have contributed to the misunderstanding. When we process painful experiences with understanding and compassion they lead to wisdom. Try reprocessing one of your painful experiences. By finding more positive ways to look at our past we will find it easier to experience peace and satisfaction in our present.

To Find Out More …

For excellent (and free!) programs on improving your personal well being, check out The Personal Journey and Managing Stress at www.arfamilies.org.

For more in-depth reading we recommend Authentic Happiness by Martin E.P. Seligmanor What Happy People Know by Dan Baker and Cameron Stauth.

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  • Reply Mrs. Lowe June 11, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    This is so true! Thanks for the reminder. I’ve actually experienced what cattles do to their food w/ the events of the past:):) However, I remember what you said in an earlier article – find a positive memory to focus on. It helps! It is also so true that mulling over the past DESTROYS PEACE. All I want is peace, but this natural man gets in the way sometimes; however, God is so loving providing an escape for me at the same time. Thank you for the good work you do to help the natural man in me become like Christ.

  • Reply Merry Michelle June 11, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    Wise words from a wise and wonderful man. Thanks for a great post!

  • Reply Brian June 11, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    Negative thoughts have a tendency of occupying one’s entire mind. It is really quite tiring. I agree with Dr. Wally. Save yourself some energy by pushing out negative thoughts.

  • Reply Deborah Avila June 12, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Excellent Dr. Wally, as usual ! Perspective is difficult to keep at the forefront of everyday challenges and amid the mundane things we seemingly take for granted…There are so many negatives in life only if we keep attaching the present to what could’ve happened a few hours ago! I deeply appreciate your writings and uplifting thoughts to stay centered. Thank you kindly.

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