On dealing with negative thoughts
To give one small illustration, whenever somebody is unkind to me, I can immediately unroll the panorama of that person’s good qualities. Instantly the balance is set right. As with most skills, this is a matter of practice. When you are having trouble getting along with someone, a simple first step is to sit down quietly and recall how many times that person has given you support. You are using positive memories to drive out negative ones before they have a chance to crowd together and form a mob, which is all resentment really is.
The first strategy is literally ‘changing one thought for another’: a negative thought for a positive one, an unkind thought for a kind one. ‘Just as a carpenter uses a small peg to drive out a bigger one,’ the Buddha says, ‘you can use a right thought to drive out one that is wrong.’
(Eknath Eswaran, Conquest of Mind)
Fragments from imaginary dialogues
“What’s your practice for dealing with negative thoughts?”
“The essence of the practice is, in Eknath Eswaran’s words,
changing one thought for another: a negative thought for a positive one, an unkind thought for a kind one.
Whenever a negative thought arises, I think/feel ‘Loving Kindness‘, and say to myself: ‘I love you Dani‘.“
“You can take it one step further.
Turn negative thoughts into creative inspiration.”
“Think of the negative thought as a seed, from which you branch out to create a beautiful tree.”
“Like a mind-map?”
“Precisely. A mental mind-map focused on positivity and beauty.
You can even have a word or phrase that initiates the process.
For me it’s Connections.“
What if you’re dealing with recurring negative thoughts?”
“Think of each as one more rep(etition), one more beautiful opportunity for practice.”