Those darn negative thoughts that just won’t go away, no matter how much inner work you do, are just plain annoying. What’s up with that?

Best-selling author Barbara Berger (with Tim Ray) wrote in her book, The Awakening Human Being: A Guide to the Power of Mind, about the Law of Thoughts Arising. Right off, she’s given you a big clue: It’s a universal law that thoughts will arise. “Thoughts arise and disappear. This is the first law because it describes an impersonal universal phenomenon which is true for everyone. No one knows why or where thoughts come from or what a thought is, but everyone has thoughts. This is the nature of life on this plane.”

Berger goes on to explain that when thoughts arise, it isn’t because we’re doing anything wrong; thoughts come and go on their own. Isn’t that the truth! Have you ever had a song or theme music start playing in your mind for, apparently, no reason? Where did the trigger thought for that music come from, why did it happen, and why that song or tune? And, how long does it take for you to get that recording to stop playing over and over in your mind?

Part of my daily morning practice includes reading the day’s message from Ernest Holmes’ book, The Science of Mind. I’d already decided what my article would be about this week, but was pleased to receive support through this reading. Holmes stated that everything that has ever happened or will happen leaves an imprint on “the walls of time; and could we walk down their corridors and read the writings,” we’d read the history. He likened this to how we can record voices and images, store them away safely, and revisit them, even decades later and still hear or view them. Well, this is exactly what we do: walk the corridors of our memories. And it’s not just our personal history involved; it’s also our physical, mental, and emotional genetic history.

That’s what those pesky negative thoughts are about: Our feelings and mental images, based on our perspectives and interpretations, imprint on our memory cells, like pages printed for books on shelves or paintings created and hung on the walls. Plus, there are genetic imprints on our cells as well. A thought arises and the next thing we know, we’re traveling down the corridors of our personal hall of records.

A negative-thought replay was going on for me, and this new thought came to me: Pebbles, Stones, Rocks, Boulders. I carry a lot of positive memories, which I do choose to replay from time to time. But isn’t it interesting that positive replays tend to occur more when we deliberately seek them out, rather than arise spontaneously. Negative-thought replays seem to arise far more spontaneously, but maybe that’s not really true. Maybe we have them closer to the surface than we realize. Maybe our practice is to go down negative-thought corridors, and we don’t realize this is our practice. It happens so fast, who has time to notice why it’s happening? And, after all, it’s what most people do, isn’t it? We call it being logical, or say it’s justified. We’ve made this practice almost a law, by virtue of so many of us doing it so regularly, as though it’s the only way to go.

I spoke with someone who’s trying to resolve a particular situation. The next steps are obvious, and we discussed them. Yet, every step discussed was met with a comment from the person about why it can’t be done or what’s impossible. I finally said, “Maybe you need to stop pulling up all the negatives you can imagine. You need to make a decision. The first decision is to get more information, because you’re deciding what can’t be done rather than discovering what can be done.” She agreed that was what she was doing. If all you focus on is what can’t be done, how or when the heck will you focus on what might or can be done? Which one will get you to an improved and preferred circumstance first?

Our memories are like bank accounts. You’ll find highs and lows there; and where you are with them fluctuates—because thoughts arise. But you can deliberately create more positives that get imprinted and stored in your memory bank account. You can also deliberately—or by default—continue to subtract from it by focusing on negatives. That’s what my Pebbles, Stones, Rocks, Boulders thought brought to my attention. I thought about how sometimes we get a pebble in our shoe. Maybe we stop and take it out; maybe we keep walking on it, complaining the whole time to ourselves or someone else.

Stones, rocks, and boulders, of course, won’t fit into our shoe; and if they did, we’d certainly stop and get them out right away. But when they are thoughts, which are already memories or become memories as we think them, we’ll put them into our shoe ourselves, repeatedly. When such thoughts come up, I’ve started saying to myself, “Pebbles, stones, rocks, boulders.”

I don’t need to figure out which category my negative thought fits into; that’s just walking the same path with something in my shoe that doesn’t benefit me. Saying those four words gets my attention on what I’m doing to myself—and that I can stop doing it. I can treat even the bigger ones like pebbles and remove them from my shoe then get on with creating something positive and feeling appreciation for the good stuff and people in my life, as well as the positive possibilities.

Thoughts arise. You maybe can’t break or change the law of this, but you can decide what to do from there. You can decide whether you’ll visit your memory bank account and count your negatives or your positives, as well as decide which one you’ll put more of into your account. What you put in and what you take out of your memory account is always up to you, and will reflect the inner life you experience, which then influences the outer life you live. You can choose to make your memory bank account work against you or for you. Choose for you. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.

Practice makes progress.
© Joyce L. Shafer

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Author's Bio: 

Joyce L Shafer is a Life Empowerment Coach dedicated to helping people feel, be, and live their true inner power. She’s author of “I Don’t Want to be Your Guru” and other books/ebooks, and publishes a free weekly online newsletter that offers empowering articles. See all that’s offered by Joyce and on her site at