Many a time, negative thoughts are very hard to remove from our minds. One can not allow these to grow as it adversely affects our normal life. This article talks about a simple mind exercise ‘Box method’. It can be used to train the mind to effectively manage the negative thought process. And find a calm state of mind.


Introduction

When we are awake, it seems that our mind is in a fast and continuous movement state, something like a flowing river. Just as big rocks or uneven land surfaces in the path of the river creates a disturbance or diversion in its flow. Similarly, a variety of thoughts from our everyday life, try to alter the calm state of our minds.

Some of the thoughts are like small rocks, which our mind (like a river), can easily go through it. But some thoughts are like giant rocks in the way, which have the potential to set a completely new direction.

Initially, a thought appears small and weak. But, as it permanently fixes its place in the mind. This very thought becomes the mother of many other future thoughts. Hence, a mind thought is considered as a process, which tends to flow and grow.

It is obvious that positive and divine thought is a desirable thing. And a negative thought needs to be eliminated completely. It is because a negative thought process tends to create a disturbance to our desired calm mind state.

However, it is observed that our monkey brain is particularly attracted to negative thoughts. And it quite easily fixes its place in the mind compared to a positive one. Something is known as the concept of negativity bias.

If you want to see the proof, ask yourself. Do you find any positive news trending on the online social platform? Did you, so when? Have you read today’s newspaper? Have you found a positive and inspirational article?

What is a negative thought pattern?

It is false to state that nothing positive is happening around us. It does! In fact, countless people are continuously doing great work in our society. Their news and stories can inspire generations ahead. Just listening to them induces such powerful thoughts that will make our minds more strong and calmer.

However, it is unfortunate that positivity does not get enough limelight and people’s attention that it deserves. Why?

Because we are developing an attitude to curse the darkness rather than to come forward and light a candle. TV news channels and social media will be ranting about things going (or gone) bad. Ultimately we, the common man, make it a habit to engage with negative thought processes and we start implementing the same in our everyday life.

Getting rid of a thought process isn’t an easy task for anyone. Particularly those negative ones that may bring along anger, sadness, depression, or anxiety.

How to stop negative thoughts? (Changing negatives to positives)

So, How to manage these negative thought processes? – I searched long for the answer to this question. And have experimented with my mind to find out what works and what does not.

The solution I found was to train the mind itself that it becomes somewhat invincible to external things that can potentially initiate the negative thought within. It is similar to like to create a fortified wall; Which blocks all the attacks and damages but has a long and wide door that opens only at your wish.

With time and experience, I not only trained myself to create this protective wall but also created the mechanism to throw other low-value thoughts out of it. In order to do so and attain this state, I developed a small mental exercise, which I call the ‘Box Method‘.

The Base

The pillars that hold the ‘Box Method‘ conceptually are well-known facts about how we think. There are just two fundamental things that have the power to shape your thinking. They are your attention and attitude.

The ‘Box Method‘ couples these two with another fact that we humans have a limited cognitive capacity. That is, we can not focus on too many things at once.

Here is an example to illustrate the connection between our attention, attitude, limited cognitive capacity to our thinking and its effect on our work.

archery-archer

In the game of archery for an archer to hit the center (10 pts) depends a lot on his concentration and his attitude towards the overall game. A player needs to develop an optimistic attitude towards his critics, past performances, opponent remarks, and media comments. At the time, when he is locking the target with his arrow. His mind space should be completely filled with the thoughts to hit the bull’s eye and nothing else. In case, archer attention has the slightest budge elsewhere. He can not hit the target.

Box Method

The Box Method is a simple, yet effective mind exercise to stop the negative thought processes. It has also helped me to direct attention to more valued things.

To start using this method, imagine your mind thinking space as a small empty room. Now imagine some identical cardboard boxes each colored in white as your thoughts. Because of the limited space of the room say, we can only place four boxes in this room.

These identical white boxes are our positive or neutral thoughts and the limited mind room depicts the limited cognitive capacity of our mind.

Now imagine a negative thought as a dark color box with a special ability to expand its size with time. As a result, when a dark box is introduced in the room, it slowly takes up the space of boxes of other boxes. If this expansion is not checked with time, it has the ability to acquire the entire room.

So, How to get rid of this negative dark box and free our mind space?

What you need is to create a window in this room. Using your positive attitude and attention, create a wide window and imagine throwing the negative dark box outside it and free up space.

Throw Window GIF - Throw Window GIFs

The mind imagination throwing the negative thought in a form of a box outside your mind is the mental exercise of the Box Method.

Implementation: How to change your negative thought process?

The simple exercise put forward by the box method takes only seconds to perform. And if the negative thoughts are strong, such as thoughts of unknowingly committing a blunder at your work and getting a fresh scolding from your superiors. Thought processes created by incidents like these can echo in your mind for very long and can consume limited thinking space.

What the Box method offers to visualize is that you have to get rid of the troubling thoughts and try to keep only the white box (neutral or positive thoughts) in the thinking space.

Indeed, implementing the box method once or twice may not minimize the effect of negative thoughts immediately. But, if you keep on visualizing throwing the dark box as your negative thoughts outside the room. You keep on notifying the mind that these thought process is worthless and need to be stopped. Your mind will slowly adapt to it and reduce its effect and start focusing on other things.

Again, the base of this method is your positive attitude towards the external world and your concentration level. If your ability to focus on a specific task is great, then once you have mentally thrown out the negative box, you can easily switch it to more important things. Whereas, your positive attitude makes sure that the negative dark box does not re-appear in the limited mind space again.

Also Read: Playfulness: An Essence of Life

Conclusion

It may come as a surprise to you. But this external world is not responsible for all the thoughts that dwell inside your mind. You can think of a case similar to throwing a plant seed in the ground. In order to fully grow into a seedling, it needs fertile soil, water, and sunlight. If these essential things are not provided to the seed, it will never grow, and with time ultimately become dead.

This is a similar case with our thoughts and mind. The basic amenities that require a particular thought (whether good or bad) to grow and prosper is our attention and attitude. Otherwise, like a dead seed, a thought will not grow.

The mental exercise described in this article can be used to throw out those thoughts that are a big obstruction to your calm state of mind. However, you are free to make any modification to it; until you keep the central idea intact with it.


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