How to Stop Being Negative (Transcript)
Today we’re going to talk about how to stop being negative; how to overcome negativity.
Because negativity can be a huge obstacle to our spiritual progress and to deep meditation.
There are so many negative emotions that we can experience, from anger to laziness. Self-pity, resentment, guilt, and more. The thing to remember is that all negativity comes from within.
If we’re perceiving negativity outside, there’s probably some negativity going on inside. If someone is “negative” to an enlightened person, what do you think happens? Do you think that person is affected by the negative comment? Of course not. They are beyond that; it doesn’t affect them.
And if you perceive someone else as being negative, in a way the problem is not with them, it’s with you.
I know that might be a little difficult to hear. But it’s liberating in a way. It means that you have full control.
If we take responsibility, we become free from negative influences outside. We’re no longer tossed around by the words and actions of other people.
Now, of course, other people can be negative. But what can you do about that? Can you control that person’s behavior? No.
What you can do is work on yourself. Work on remaining positive and peaceful, and free from the opinions of other people.
Now, that’s not always easy. It can be tricky. But like all things this develops with time and deeper spiritual practice.
All negative attitudes draw the mind away from our goal of peace and divine union. So we have to overcome our negative attitudes and tendencies if we want to find inner peace.
It’s all about working on yourself.
Forget the negative; focus on the positive
When Swami Kriyananda first went to meet his Guru Paramahansa Yogananda, he was greeted by Sister Gyanamata.
He thought she was this cold, stern, old lady. But he later realized how she was actually an advanced disciple and full of love. So he had judged her.
When he later told this story to Yogananda, Yogananda reprimanded him. He said, “You shouldn’t talk about such things.”
The act of telling that story was an act of negativity in itself, even though the story had a positive ending.
We should try to avoid talking about negative thoughts and negative emotions. Put them aside. Let them go.
In Buddhism, they talk of right speech. In Hinduism, they talk of Satya which is about being careful with the things that you say. In Christianity, they have Thou shalt not lie. It’s all about being careful with your speech.
When something bad happens, try not to speak about it too much. Don’t repress it, but see the positive. Forget the negative.
Let it float away.
Yogananda used to say, “Why look at the drains when there is beauty all around you?” When we think about and talk about the negative, we take on negative qualities ourselves.
How to stop being negative: Examples
So here are some of the ways that we speak negatively on a day to day basis.
1. Someone says to you, “How was your day?” And you reply, “Oh, it was stressful. It was hard.”
When we say this, does it improve your day?
You don’t need to say, “I had an amazing day, I had a wonderful day,” when you didn’t. That’s not the answer either.
But you could say that you’ve had better. Don’t dwell on it too much. Don’t go into too much detail about how bad it was.
2. Sometimes we say, “I’m so tired today.” It’s not necessary; it brings people down.
We’re stating what we believe to be the truth. But it affirms a negative reality that you’re low energy and that you don’t have the will to face the day.
You can say something else like, “Oh, I’m alright, I need to lift my energy a little bit.” So it’s about changing our thoughts and words to attain that higher reality. The higher reality doesn’t involve those negative thoughts, words and actions.
3. We might say, “He was being really negative.”
But that in itself is an act of negativity, seeing that someone else is being negative. Try to ignore that person or see the positive.
When you’re in a positive mindset, negativity doesn’t touch you. You won’t even notice its existence. But for now, try to ignore negativity. Don’t pay attention to it. It will get easier with time.
Now, you won’t be able to do this every time. And sometimes you will get sucked into the emotion, sucked into the story.
So do your best. And when you can, try to stay positive.
How to stop other people being negative.
I received a question recently related to negativity.
A student asked what should we do if people are being negative about our spiritual practice. You talk about meditation and people are not responding well. Maybe they are criticizing what you do, or ignoring what you say.
What should we do in this situation?
So I told the student that the best thing to do is simply don’t bother talking about it with them. Keep it to yourself.
Many people are not ready to hear about spiritual ideas and meditation. They’re not into it and it causes some fear.
There’s an old saying, “Don’t cast your pearls before swine.” And I know that’s a little harsh — they’re not necessarily swine.
But they’re not there yet. And talking about it can cause discomfort for some people. It’s not for everyone.
Speak about the spiritual path in your meditation groups, in Facebook groups. But not around the family table. Don’t shout it around. Because like we said, many people don’t want to hear it.
Yogananda said, “Your spiritual journey is between you and God.” If you do need to share something that’s fine. But share it in the right place with your fellow seekers.
So I wanted to give you a few tips on how you can overcome negativity in your life. We’ve got six tips here.
How to stop being negative - 6 tips
TIP #1 :Avoid Negative Influences
This is so important, more important than I ever realized. More important than most people do realize.
If you’re hanging around with people who gossip, complain, and judge, you will get sucked down.
The best thing to do is to withdraw from that. Try to get away.
If they can change, that’s great. But otherwise, I would recommend avoiding it. We’re so sensitive, and you have no idea how easily influenced the mind is by other people.
In India, they have this idea of satsang which is spiritual community. It’s thought to be the second most important thing on the spiritual path after the grace of a true guru.
It’s so important to be around other uplifting, positive, spiritual seekers. It’s going to increase your ability to avoid negativity and move towards positivity.
Also, avoid negative influences in terms of the television that you watch. Avoid, violent and dark TV shows and movies.
The other day I watched this TV show called I’m Thinking of Ending Things on Netflix. And while I’m aware that it’s probably quite a good movie — quite interesting, sort of Kafkaesque, dark movie — it was actually a pretty bad idea. Because it turned into this awful, LSD trip kind of situation. Afterwards, I ended up feeling quite sketched out and weird.
So try to be aware of the things that you watch. They affect your mental and emotional state.
Also violent video games. Keep your kids away from those! They can damage your kids badly. And even worse, it can desensitize them, so that they think that violence is normal. And that’s not what you want. You don’t want your children to think that these dark, violent acts are the norm.
TIP #2: Say yes to life
When challenges come, when “bad” things come in your life, say yes to them. Welcome them. Don’t get despondent. Don’t get depressed.
You’re here to overcome these challenges. You’re here to learn from them. And if they weren’t there, you’d have no reason to be here.
So go with it. Embrace it. Enjoy the journey.
Instead of saying, “Why is this happening to me?” try to go with the flow and allow it to come to you even when it’s hard.
Because the greatest challenges often disguise the greatest gifts. And in every negative situation, there is good to come from that even though it may not be now.
At some point, good will come from that negative situation. So try to find what that is.
And think about what you’re learning as you go through this test.
How to stop being negative - Tip #3: Stop making mountains out of molehills
Tip number three, stop making mountains out of molehills.
You know, we have a tendency to dramatize things.
Try to reflect on whether what’s happened is such a big deal. Because life’s too short. We have to try to take it easy. Otherwise, it can get overwhelming.
Two of my friends fell out not long ago over a slightly rude throwaway comment that one of them said at a party. And they didn’t talk for four years.
Stuff doesn’t matter that much. Let it go. Who cares? It’s all just ego. If you meditate every day, these things will not bother you anymore. They’ll seem so small and insignificant.
Try to keep things in perspective and realize that things aren’t as serious as we sometimes think.
TIP #4: Affirm, "God gave this to me/This is my practice."
When a negative situation comes up, a negative experience, say to yourself, “This is my practice.”
“God gave this to me/Spirit gave this to me.”
“This is my challenge right now.”
If something difficult is manifesting in your life, try to see that the test is here for a reason.
You have karma to overcome. You have challenges to face.
And there is joy in that. Even when the tests are hard, it’s a good thing.
So this links us back to the second tip which was to say yes to life. Say yes to your challenges.
Tip #5: Meditation
Meditation is so important for putting things in perspective. It helps you to accept. It helps you find inner peace.
It helps you to be less attached to what people think and what people say.
And it also helps you identify when those negative thoughts or words do come up. So that you can go about letting go of them.
Learn how to meditate here.
TIP #6: Prayers, gratitude, affirmations
Pray for positivity. You can wake up and think of three things to be grateful for. Write them down in your journal. I find that very helpful.
Some days, you might wish to say thank you in a prayer. Some days, you might wish to write them down. But it is a good habit to start doing every day.
Or you can say an affirmation. Something simple like “Everything is happening exactly as it should. Everything is happening exactly as it should.”
How to stop being negative: Final words
So these are our six tips for how to stop being negative. How does negativity manifest in your life?
Have a think about it today or this week; write it down. Really try to explore this.
Because I guarantee you it’s in there somewhere; for all of us, it’s somewhere.
For me, I can be quite critical. I can be critical of myself and other people. And I can mindlessly bad mouth people sometimes, then feel guilty about it afterwards.
Why is that? Why do I criticize people?
Well, it’s because there is some fear in me and some resentment inside me.
There is lack of acceptance for something which makes me feel uncomfortable. So try to be honest with yourself. Try to explore this.
You can get access to my free meditation resource library right now.
It’s got all my worksheets, videos, cheat sheets. It’s got lists of affirmations, journal exercises, and more. So check that out below and I look forward to seeing you next week.