Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Monday, January 13, 2014

How to Counter Negative Thinking

Dreading Is the Pits

Do you sometimes find yourself dreading the day ahead, knowing how physically and mentally exhausting coming events are going to be? I do. Just thinking about how worn out I know I will to be, takes the wind out of my sails even before I’ve begun. The worst thing is that I know that if I just go ahead and plough on out of a sense of duty or routine, my day will be drab and gray, all activities somehow tainted by a sense of dread.

     Thankfully I’ve found a way to counteract these harmful dynamics. The antidote is a five-minute time-out to reset the inner dialogue. The idea is to cut short the welling up of negative emotion in order to prevent contamination of your entire inner space.

How do you go about resetting your thoughts?

     As soon as you sense that your inner dialogue is off, you try to find a moment to be by yourself - a period of just five minutes suffices. You can be anywhere: bedroom, family room, bathroom, car, or waiting in line. (After a while it doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing – you’ll be able to reset as soon as you notice a need for resetting, and you won’t even have to close your eyes.)

The Five-Minute Reset Time-Out

Make sure you are in a comfortable position, and close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Observe your breath going in very slowly * and going out very slowly *, going in very slowly * and going out very slowly *. Keep on breathing deeply and slowly.
     Imagine you're entering a lovely forest in the springtime. Trees and bushes are adorned with new leaves in all kinds of greens and it is quiet and peaceful. The earth beneath your feet is soft and fragrant. You hear the soothing sound of birds chirping occasionally. Now you come upon a small pond, deep and quiet, its surface smooth and silky. An occasional breeze may cause ripples, but you know that deep down the water is still and quiet. * 

     You are like this pond. Deep inside of you there is a place where you are in contact with peace and tranquility. * Now let the calm and stillness that is found in the depth of this pond spread through your being, from your innermost center to the outermost cells of your body. *

Whenever you experience gusts of wind causing the smooth surface of your pond to form ripples and perhaps even breakers, you know that deep down you are in touch with serenity and equanimity. You can draw on those qualities to inspire your actions, to imbue your being in the every-day-world.
     Now take a moment to fully feel the peace and quiet of your inner being. Also remember to take deep and long breaths. *
     Feel the peace and quiet of your inner being. Remember to breathe deeply and slowly. ** (repeat two times)
     We have come to the end of the five-minute time-out. Be grateful for having been able to access the peace you hold in your inner being. When you go out into the world again you may count on this peace to be available to you whenever you call on it.

Now It's Your Turn!

There are several ways to work with this visualization, or meditation, whatever you want to call it:

1) Read it to yourself, quietly or out loud. An  asterisk indicates a pause; two asterisks indicate a 30-second pause.

2) Listen to the recording and upload it to your smartphone or laptop.

3) Record your own voice reading the meditation and then upload. This last option is by far the most effective. Hearing your own voice directing your thoughts to channel peace is a powerful experience.

Recommended Reading

To learn more about finding the calm in the storm that is parenting, you might want to read the following posts presented earlier on

Clean Up the Clutter and Create Some Calmness
Finding Peace in Hectic Daily Life with Kids
Parents and Meditation
Or check out this recent scientific publication on the benefits of meditation.

Recording made by author
Image of piglets courtesy of
Images of nature made by author

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