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Say NO to Psychic Death

In a previous post, I promised to reveal to you the simple techniques that facilitate a radical change in mental focus, stopping negative thoughts dominating your life and allowing only the most positive thoughts to hold sway. It’s about detoxifying the mind, diminishing both bad memories and worries about your future that disempower you and amplifying those that make you stronger instead.

How to forget negative thoughts:

  1. Firstly, it is important to understand why we are so primed to think badly of ourselves. I have described Nietzsche’s theories in detail here. By thinking well of yourself, you are actually swimming against the historical tide.

  2. All of us have bad memories: failures, embarrassments, painful experiences – even full-on traumas. If such memories continue to crush us they are obviously issues that are unresolved. Such issues need to be confronted rather than passively tolerated, ignored or repressed. The simplest and most accessible way of doing this is by self-analysis using a journal. There are simple questions that can help untangle troublesome memories – we will talk about them another time. If you can afford counselling or therapy, your issues can be worked through with the help of a professional. Sometimes you can just go back and fix things – maybe an apology, maybe telling someone who wronged you exactly what you think of them. The important thing is to accept losses, acknowledge mistakes, make redress if you can, learn lessons, then move on. Nietzsche uses the somewhat amusing metaphor of constipation (memories that get stuck, causing discomfort) and good digestion (extracting anything that can be learnt and then letting those memories go). You might not forget your traumatic experience entirely, but you can come to terms with it and let it shrink and fade.

  3. Focus on other things. Let me illustrate: how do we forget a pink elephant? Not by trying not to think of it – that only affirms its existence. No, we forget it by thinking about something else: a blue rhinoceros, say. Joking aside, we might avoid ruminating on our failures by choosing to concentrate on our successes instead. We’ll talk about that below.

  4. Good mental fitness can help with all of this. A practice of meditation improves control of the mind and our ability to focus on what we really want to be thinking about.

How to remember positive thoughts:

  1. We do this by recording in detail our positive experiences and our successes in the journal mentioned above. Most people are quick to dismiss their triumphs and hang on doggedly to their failures. Sure, it is important to be aware of our failures, then we can process them for our benefit (see point 2, above) before leaving them behind, but to galvanize our self-concept we must recall, reflect, analyze and enjoy our successes too. This helps us build confidence and encourages us to have faith in a brighter future. You might subject these positive thoughts to analysis too. For example: ‘I did a great piece of work on that occasion. Where else might those skills help me in other parts of my life?’

We can see the importance of regular journaling. A trained habit of everyday mental vigilance and regular and thorough self-examination is essential for progress. If we are to become our best selves, we need to extract the utmost value from each of life’s lessons – the good and the bad.

You may recall we looked at the psychology of Otto Rank a while back. One is reminded of what he called the ‘Fear of Life’. Unhelpful thoughts of past and future can evoke that state. This happens when the frightful things in life, the things that diminish you, that push you back into a state of fear and reticence, the humiliations, the disappointments, physical and emotional pain itself – these things force you to suffer a kind of psychic death. It is with this in mind that you will understand the true import of one of Nietzsche’s most famous maxims:

‘What does not kill me makes me stronger.’

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