Should You Believe Your Negative Thinking?

By Mary Beth Hazeldine

October 23, 2016

I don't know the source of the 70,000 thoughts/day meme, but suffice to say that we have many, many thoughts every day as our brains process all of the input coming from our 5 senses and all of the chatter that goes on inside our heads.  

What About Free Well?  Negative Thinking is NOT King!

According to some research, as much as 80% of our thinking is negative thinking and 98% of our thoughts are the same ones we had the previous day. Is it any wonder that so many people suffer from depression?

There is a well-known poem by Lao Tzu that says:

"Watch your thoughts, for they become words.  Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits for they become your character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny."

But, does this inevitable sequence have to happen?

One of the biggest insights I had was the fact that you don't have to act on, and you don't even have to believe, every thought that you have. Yet it is all part of the human experience that we take most of our thinking to be true and real.

Have you ever been in a situation where someone else's behaviour was annoying you, or at least you thought that was the case? I remember a time last week when I was in a particularly foul mood. During that time, I got really upset about all the things on my "to do" list and I was annoyed at my husband for not contributing more. In my mind, I was berating him for not taking more responsibility for household tasks and my blood was boiling.

In the past, it is highly likely that this "conversation" wouldn't have remained a private one in the confines of my mind, but that I would have verbally lashed out at him for not pulling his weight. Of course, that would only have made matters worse. Even though he is not the type who easily gets upset or angry, the atmosphere would have been negatively affected by my mini-tantrum.

But instead, since I've learned the Principles behind the human experience, I had the sense not to take my thoughts so seriously. I realised that I was in a bad mood and that what I was thinking probably wasn't even true. So I bit my tongue and kept my thoughts to myself.

The next day, I was feeling much better and my thinking had totally changed. I realised that I had simply been having some negative thinking about the number of things I had to get done and in fact, my husband would have been more than happy to help me in any way possible if he could have. As it was, the tasks in question were things that were not only my responsibility, but they weren't things that he wasn't even able to do. As for pulling his weight in the household, I have a gem of a husband who does far more than his fair share without even having to be asked.

So the thoughts that I had had the previous day were, in fact, simply NOT TRUE, yet I believed them at the time.  What would have been the consequences if I had let them become words? Or the words had become actions?

I once heard Three Principles teacher, Judy Sedgeman, say that, "Thoughts are constructions, not instructions," and this has stuck with me. We don't have to act on thoughts as if they were telling us what to say and do. For this we have our free will. To act or not to act on each and every thought....that is the question! A thought itself is neutral, until we act on it.

Mary Beth Hazeldine is a teen mentor, executive coach, leadership consultant and corporate wellness advisor.  She helps individuals, professionals and organisations tap into the wisdom and intelligence that allows them to be "in the flow" more often and experience success and mental wellbeing. You can find out more about Mary Beth and her work at