The ‘Tar Baby’ Effect of Negative Thinking

07/28/2017 03:52 pm ET

Most everyone is aware of the power of positive thinking. We know that we create our own reality and are personally responsible for that reality. But understanding that concept is one thing, and living it in a healthy manner is quite another.

Don’t we drive ourselves crazy with the way we think? When it comes to working through some dilemma or decision, many times our minds start spinning with all the possible scenarios, gravitating towards the worst. As we all know, everything can be viewed from a myriad of different angles or perspectives. Ironically, the tendency is to emphasize the worst possible option, and we wonder why we are unhappy.

It seems like the more we try to figure something out, the more we get tangled up in the knot of negativity. It reminds me of the old Uncle Remus story Tar-Baby. The more Br’er Rabbit tried to push away the Tar-Baby, the more entwined they became. We do the same thing with our minds. Swirling in a seething torrent of negativity, our minds reinforce the worst, while discounting the best possibilities of a situation.

Perhaps the greatest tragedy of these mental mind trips is that they don’t stop within the hidden confines of our mind. Instead, we allow these negative mind trips to determine how we relate to others and how we behave in the world. We may wonder about the true motivations another person may have in their relationship with us. Our fear that the worst possible scenario is the correct one determines how we act towards that person. It’s almost as if we force them into being a person they’re not.

We instinctively go with the worst and create that in our lives. When anything troubles, challenges, or confuses us, we tend to inflame the worst and sublimate the best of what could be. The worst possible scenario becomes more and more a reality because we force the situation to become just that.

Imagine if we did the opposite. What if we saw the best possible scenario and behaved in a manner that brought about that situation and made it a reality? In a nutshell, how we view a person is what they become in our lives. In fact, how we view our lives and our life situations is what we force them into becoming.

This is not to propose that we bury our heads in the sand, cast caution to the wind, and go with a bliss-ninny approach to life. It is only to suggest that we tend not to balance the various possible scenarios wisely.

If we keep the undesirable scenarios in mind, we can use them as a precautionary guide in the periphery of our thinking. At the same time, the focus of our thinking must deal with the positive possibilities and the attempt to make them the reality.

Not only is this an effective approach to any situation, but it also improves our lives in a more generalized sense. People then naturally gravitate towards us. We’re a person they want to be around, a person they respect. Our very presence is uplifting. Furthermore, our positive attitude is contagious and we end up surrounding ourselves with other positive individuals, with everyone mutually supporting each other.

So, the next time we find ourselves in a challenging situation, we need to take a step back and look at where we go with our minds. Not as a self-judgment, but as a means of balancing all the perspectives that run through our minds in a manner that best serves us.

Michael Mamas is the founder of The Center of Rational Spirituality, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the betterment of humanity through the integration of ancient spiritual wisdom with modern rational thought. Michael Mamas helps individuals and organizations develop a deeper understanding and more comprehensive outlook by providing a ‘bridge’ between the abstract and concrete, the Eastern and Western, and the ancient and modern. Connect with Dr. Michael Mamas on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+.

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