Did you hear the news this morning? A gunman opened fire near the Empire State Building. Two people, including the shooter, were killed and eight were injured. And did you hear that Hurricane Isaac is bashing the Dominican Republic and heading for Florida? And did you hear about the murder and dismemberment case in Toronto this week?
If course you know all that. We are inundated with horror and bloodshed. It’s like we are living in a 3D horror movie. Full color (mainly bloodred) and screaming and sirens in Surround Sound. Is that where you want to live? Not me!
Our world and our reality is composed of what we see and allow into our awareness. Unfortunately, with the 24/7 negativity we are being force-fed by the media and by the Internet, our reality can become one of unrelenting horror and negativity. It’s like we are seeing the world through a funhouse mirror—distorted. We can easily start to believe that killing and fraud and hate and cheating and stealing are the norm rather than the exception. Is that what you believe? If it is, then it will become your reality. That’s the nature of the universe and perception.
We don’t have to accept that. We can turn our attention to the good things that are happening. . For example, at the same time that news of the disgruntled madman killing a coworker in New York was making the news, there was also another story playing out in the same city. A woman carrying a child had almost fallen into the subway but had been saved by a brave and selfless bystander. We hear of brave people like that every day but it’s hard sometimes to find those stories in the middle of the cesspool of negative news.
There are two important reasons to be more selective about what we focus on.
First of all, from the point of view of our own mental health, how can it be healthy to wallow in evil and violence? It’s like going down to a pond in the woods on a hot day. One pond is clear and clean and spring fed. One is an algae filled swamp that receives water from the nearby sewage plant. Which would you choose to swim in? Why do you choose to swim in the mental and emotional equivalent of that swamp every day?
Secondly, we must remember that our thoughts are energy and through that energy we are connected to every other thing in the universe. We have the power to send energy and affect the well-being of our fellow travellers in this life. It’s an awesome power and an awesome responsibility. At this time more than ever we need to be aware of that power and use it for good.
I am not suggesting that you clap your hands over your ears and start going ‘lalalalala’ to drown out any sound of negativity. The reality is that there are bad things happening. However, we don’t have to allow them to take up residence in our mind.
It is impossible to eradicate a thought from your mind unless you fill the space with something else. If you say to yourself, “I won’t think about how awful it must have been to be in the street when that man started shooting.” You are going to continue to think about that until you replace that thought with something else.
That is called the ‘Law of Substitution’. Your conscious mind can only focus on one thought at a time and you can make a deliberate decision to substitute one thought for another. The Law of Substitution allows you to crowd out negative thoughts by replacing them with a more positive thought. So in this example, you might make a choice to think abut the upcoming weekend and the fun that you might have with your family. My new grandson will be born on Monday and I’m going to focus on that instead.
What positive thing can you choose to focus on to crowd out the negative news?