How can you stop poking the sore bits?
Have you ever had a sore tooth? Have you ever found yourself continually poking your tongue into that sore tooth to check whether it was still sore or not, in the process actually making it more sore?
We can do the same thing with our minds. We often revisit things that have happened in the past. Some of these things are pleasant and some are very unpleasant. Remembering and therefore re-experiencing the pleasant experiences is great. We can enjoy those situations all over again, sometimes smiling or even laughing out loud, or feeling the love, joy or pleasure associated with that memory once more. Re-experiencing unpleasant experiences however, is not so good. We get to feel all that negativity – the sadness, the loneliness, the embarrassment, or whatever the feeling is – all over again. To make it worse, some of us do this frequently, revisiting horrible experiences over and over again, making ourselves feel bad over and over again. And just as with the sore tooth, continually poking it does not make it better, it makes it worse.
Some people are not as happy as they wish to be. It is often the case that these people are thinking about negative things on a regular basis – not just the bad things that have happened, but the bad things that could have happened, or the bad things that might happen in the future. These people strive to be happy, but don’t realise that the way they are thinking is causing this unhappiness. What is important for these people to realise, is for as long as they’re thinking this way, happiness will be very difficult for them to achieve. In fact, if we asked some happy people, we’d find they don’t spend much time thinking about these kinds of things at all. Instead, they think of good things. They think of the fun experiences from their past, they focus on the simple pleasures in life and they think of the things they are looking forward to. This doesn’t mean that they don’t ever have bad experiences, they just don’t spend a lot of time and energy focusing on them. They learn from them and then let them go.
This is something we can all learn from. We all have our bad times, and it’s worth noticing what we’re doing in our minds in those bad times. Chances are we’re thinking in a way that is really not helping us. Once we’ve identified this, it’s well worth making a conscious effort to turn it around. That doesn’t necessarily mean trying to turn the negative thing you’re thinking about into a positive thing – sometimes that’s just not possible. Instead, it may mean focusing your mind somewhere completely different, somewhere that feels good to you. Alternatively, it may mean focusing on solutions, how you can change the situation for the better or what it is you can learn from it. For each situation it’s slightly different, but for each situation there’s a way you can direct your mind in a way that is much more constructive and makes you feel a lot better. For each situation, there’s a way you can stop poking the sore tooth.