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How can one overcome negative thoughts?

Question: 
How can one overcome negative thoughts?


Our Answer:

We all think negative thoughts sometimes. How we choose to deal with these thoughts affects our mood. If we take negative thoughts seriously—"I'm no good," "I don't like X, Y, or Z," "I'm a failure," "I can't succeed," and so on—it's easy to get into a seemingly endless "negative thought feedback loop," in which it seems there's no cause for happiness anywhere.

When the mind sends nothing but pessimistic messages, there are a number of ways to overcome this. Sometimes we just need some carbohydrates, but we also need to feed our consciousness the kinds of messages that strengthen our spiritual intelligence.

At the beginning of the Bhagavad-gita, the world's greatest warrior, Arjuna, was overwhelmed with negative thoughts. He felt that he couldn't go on, and he wanted to withdraw from life.

Krishna gave him advice to lift him out of his bad mood. By appealing to his intelligence, Krishna reminded him that we are all eternal souls and we're naturally happy when we cooperate with the Supreme Self. Krishna told Arjuna all about the ultimate goal of life, which is to dedicate our lives to divine service, always think of the Supreme Person, and to return to the spiritual world.

After hearing from Krishna, Arjuna's bad mood completely lifted. He felt like himself again and was ready to charge into battle. We may not be warriors per se, but we've all experienced the rush of positive, creative energy that comes when we're released from the shackles of a bad mood. We see ourselves differently. We can see past our immediate troubles to where we want to be and what we want to accomplish in life.

Krishna's advice in the Bhagavad-gita is applicable in all situations. When we're going through stressful times, focusing on the cause of stress rarely helps us feel better. When we focus instead on the ultimate solution to all problems—Krishna consciousness—then we can be peaceful even in the most stressful situations.

Chanting the Hare Krishna mantra can also immediately put us in touch with our natural, innate spiritual happiness, and change our perspective and mood from negative to positive. God's name and God Himself are one and the same, and in God's presence we can be freed from any amount of stress. Freedom from stress expands our consciousness, so it's easier to envision positive outcomes and not just negative circumstances.