The Power of Negative Thinking
- Posted by James Altucher
I have a list of people I want to kill. Or maim. Maiming is better. Because they would know its me and hopefully they’d live a long life afterwards. I’d maim them maybe by setting their face on fire and putting a hood over it. Or amputating both their hands so they can’t wipe themselves. The list starts with people I met when I was about five years old. It ends (as of now) with people I met last week. It’s a long list.
I saw this weird revenge movie when I was a kid. An enormously obese but very sweet girl was constantly made fun of in school. Made fun of in a sort of “Carrie” sort of way but she didn’t have any psychic powers to rain down pig blood everywhere. So she just had to put up with it.
You know the sort of thing: guys would pretend to like her, she’d get all excited, and then the guy would start laughing, everyone would start laughing, and she would start crying. And that seemed to happen over and over. Heck, that happened to me, but in reverse. Those people are on my list.
One day she gets into a car accident where her whole body is destroyed and then the movie becomes this bizarro version of the “Six Million Dollar Man”. She wakes up from her accident and she’s no longer obese. They had to “completely rebuild her”. She was now thin, beautiful, large eyes, big breasts, beautiful face. Everything was rebuilt. She even had a softer, sexier voice. In other words, she’s a young Stockard Channing.
So one by one she seduces every guy that’s ever made fun of her and then kills them, and that’s the end of the movie as far as I can remember. She reminds each guy right before she kills them that she was that fat girl. Then they get really scared because they know death is near. I saw it at least thirty years ago and I can’t remember the name of it.
Sometimes it’s not so easy to simply ignore the people who have done the worst to you. You wake up thinking about them. While you’re reading or talking to someone else you’re thinking about them. Or it’s someone you work with, someone you live with, someone who you want to love you, etc. These are hard people to ignore. Your imaginary conversations and arguments with them fill the whole day. You turn from being human to being a monster when dealing with these people.
One person in the comments of one of my articles posted an exercise of what to do about these people. WARNING LABEL: THE EXERCISE THIS PERSON SUGGESTED WILL DESTROY YOU IF YOU TRY IT.
I think it’s very damaging what this person suggested. In the exercise she suggested you imagine a world filled with love. You think of the people you love, and then you picture the people you hate and you imagine you have the same sort of love towards them.
This will break your brain in two. It will break your soul into pieces. Unless I suddenly turn into Jesus or Buddha I’m not going to love these people. Picture the person you hate most. Can you really suddenly turn that hate into love via mental visualization. That’s more like mental masturbation.
In an earlier article about leaks I mentioned three intensities of leaks: mild, moderate, intense. It’s the same here. You might be angry at someone in a mild way, a moderate way, or in a very intense way.
All are equally bad. But there’s no way you can go from “Intense” hatred to compassionate unconditional love. Gratuitous positive thinking for the sake of being positive just doesn’t work. There are many deep, reasons, dating from childhood that you don’t even understand you might cause you to have intense hatred or anger. Trying to skip all of that so you can feel a fake love will only turn you into a fake and create even more of a monster.
There’s simply no reason to feel compassion towards anyone other than the people who you are closest to.
So here’s what you do. It’s a mental discipline. If you can do this, it not only deals with these people it will change your life so much you’ll feel like you suddenly generated super powers. Your productivity goes up. Your capability of dealing with pain and suffering goes up tenfold, and your ability to problem-solve turns you into a miracle man. You also might start to be aware of issues you never knew you had.
In other words, you’ll get luckier when everyone else is floundering around lost in their pathetic thoughts of murder and mayhem. You become human in a zoo filled with animals.
How to cultivate Non-Hate
Everytime you are thinking about someone on your list, try to catch yourself. This is the hard part. Stop yourself for just a second in the middle of your mental maze of anguish. Label the thought you were thinking “useful” or “not useful”. If someone shat on my face and now I’m thinking about my mental argument wth him or her. This is “not useful”. If you label enough thoughts “not useful” then “Intense” anger might turn into “Moderate” anger. “Moderate” anger might turn into “Mild” anger. This is how you cultivate non-hate instead of compassion. It works. I do it. I can tell you it works.
You might still have to deal with this person (at work, for instance) but your entire dynamic with the person will begin to change and you will see results. They will feel the dynamic. The world will feel it. Everything will change. Not overnight but over time. Intensity on this major leak of your energy goes down. And this is a MAJOR leak.
The hardest part is stopping yourself long enough to do the labeling. The “not useful”. But if you can do that you’ll find this technique also comes in handy in other parts of life.
Like where you feel greed or envy towards someone (“not useful”) or where you feel delusional (daydreaming about what you’d do with the billion dollars you’re going to make on the sewing machine you’re going to invent – “Not useful”). This also goes for when you are talking to someone else about the person who makes you upset (angry gossip is “not useful”) or when something bad happens to the person and you think that’s just fine (“approval” of bad things is “not useful”).
Most things in life, in fact, aren’t very useful to think about (“The IMF”, “Greece”, “most politics”, “family I don’t like”, “ex-friends/girlfriends”, etc)
What’s the outcome of all of this if you get good at this labeling? Its as if you’ve been in a horrible accident that ruins the body you spent a lifetime creating. Suddenly you’ve been rebuilt. Everything that was ugly and hideous sheds away. You become beautiful.
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