Someone actually brought it to my attention by telling me I used negative words like 'can't', 'won't' and 'don't' a lot. I'd never thought about it before; I had no idea I was doing it, and was even skeptical at first.
The things that ran through my head were along the lines of: Of course I use those words. Doesn't everyone? I don't use them anymore often than anyone else-- at least I don't think I do. Besides, how else do I say what I mean? I can't even think of a way to say things differently.
Well, this person began to call me out on this habit. She brought a bag of metal bolts and put an empty coffee can on her desk. Every time I phrased things negatively, she'd toss a bolt into the can, making a horribly loud 'clank', and then she made me re-phrase it.
Holy cow, how I hated that clanking sound! I'm sure you can imagine. At first, there was just a constant clanking sound. Even as I tried to rephrase something, I'd rephrase it negatively and get one clank after another. Ugh, how it grated on my nerves-- even now, a loud clanking sound just makes me cringe.
Though the method was a bit dramatic, it really helped bring my attention to my speech patterns-- and the person was right. I was a total 'negative Nellie'.
In time, I began thinking about what I was saying and how I was phrasing things, and the clanks lessened-- they grew fewer and farther between. She would congratulate me with a big smile once I began speaking in a more positive way without getting a clank.
More amazingly, as I began to say things in a more positive way, I began to think in a more positive way. I started becoming a more positive person... eventually, with this exercise and other efforts, I went from being a complete pessimist to a fairly optimistic, happy person. The journey all started with a coffee can and a few bolts.
While this person frustrated the hell out of me at first with every single clank, I came to love her dearly for what she taught me.
There's actually a name for it, if you want to learn more: operant conditioning.
My Tip for You Today: Start training yourself to stop thinking or speaking negatively.
Wicca teaches us how our words, thoughts and deeds affect us-- as well as everything around us. We create our own environments with the kind of energy we pour into them. Do you really want to live in a pool of negativity and pessimism? I doubt it. We all have the power to change that.
It's good if you can get a close friend in on this, because chances are they'll point out things you yourself don't even realize you're doing. If you don't have someone to toss a bolt into a coffee can for you, then try putting a rubber band around your wrist and snapping it on yourself every time you catch a negative thought formulating in your head, or negative words leaving your lips.
You'd be surprised by how, after just a few days, you become much more aware of your thoughts and words, and much more aware of how they reflect on your mood and emotions. A crappy day can be turned into a pretty good day just by shifting your focus from the negative to the positive.
Tried it? Tell us about it.