That is the the litmus test. It is the measuring stick of all behaviors and thoughts. Did that make me feel better?
Of course, not everything we do is effective at making us feel better…much less everyone else. That leaves us with a simple task. Exchange those thoughts and behaviors for others than make us feel better. Easier said, right?
Let’s say we do something that makes us feel negatively. At some point we become aware of how it’s making us feel. That may lead to a host of other feelings like regret, shame, embarrassment, anger…but we only need to feel enough of any emotion in order to do something different. But what do we do?
If all the world’s a stage, and we’re all actors…what can we do about our next performance? We rehearse. We rehearse how we want to behave.
We imagine the next time we feel the way we were feeling when we did what we didn’t want to do…doing something different. Instead of ruminating on what we did do, we rehearse over and over again until we know we’re going to nail our part. But the way we behave isn’t the only thing that makes us feel negatively.
Sometimes just the way we feel is a function of how and what we think. Pessimism, catastrophization, rumination…there are ways in which our thinking can get us and keep us feeling negatively. We thought our way into negativity and we’re going to have to think our way out of it.
But thinking our way out of it isn’t as simple as charge cancellation. Positive affirmations aren’t likely enough to dispel our negativity. We’re going to need a better tool.
In the face of negative thoughts, we have to replace them with something else that fits. We have to look for another thought, that is as true as what we were thinking. And this new thought won’t likely make us feel positively…but it can make us feel better. And feeling better is how we know our thoughts and actions are effective…and we’ve negated negativity.