Negative thoughts: 4 questions to get rid of them

The mind tends to see only the negative causing a lot of suffering in our lives. Discover a practical and simple method based in 4 questions and return your mind to mental clarity.

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Negative thoughts
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Throughout the day we have about 60,000 thoughts and many of them are stressful and harmful, negatively affecting our mood. Through a simple method based on 4 questions you can free yourself from them and return to calmness and peace of mind. The human brain processes between 60,000 and 70,000 thoughts a day of which 94% are repetitive and 80% are negative. Repetition and simplification allows us to adapt to any medium and has been key to our human evolution but, on the contrary, generates thoughts quickly, almost automatically and without taking into account all the present information, leading to erroneous and negative conclusions.

We have never been told that what we think may not be true, and instead it is what happens most of the time. Our thoughts are not neutral, that is, they do not show us the reality as it is, but they are negative: they reveal only the unpleasant part of the puzzle and draw a deficient, lame, nefarious truth. It is as if from the moment we wake up until we close our eyes to go to sleep we are tuned to a radio channel that re-transmits without stopping what does not work, the unfavorable, the unloving. These thoughts do not clarify us but confuse us. They do not elevate us, they sink us. They snatch the present from us and anchor us in the past. They deny us beauty. They show us an unkind reality. Which causes us suffering. And this is not here. Negative thoughts generate difficult emotions from which we act in our environment in a deficient way. Thus our imperfect way of thinking has an effect on the relationship with ourselves, with others and with the world. In other words, these negative thoughts have a direct influence on all areas of our lives.

What can we do to get out of the influence of these thoughts? What to do to listen to another tune? How to tune another frequency? Byron Katie, author of the best-seller “Love what is: 4 questions that can change your life” (Editions Urano, 2009) argues that we should not believe what we think and through the method ‘The Work’ offers us the way to stop believing in them and get mental clarity.

The Work is a simple process in which the thoughts are investigated in a way that allows us to see the truth behind them. To do this, you have to identify the negative thoughts by observing the emotions. Tension, stress, anger or discouragement are indicators that a negative thought has appeared in the mind. After identifying the thought in a sentence, (for example, my friend is selfish, my father does not listen to me or should get up sooner in the morning) that statement is submitted to these four questions:

1. Is it true? 
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? 
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? 
4. Who would you be without the thought? 

Finally, we must reverse the original thinking “I should not get up earlier in the morning” and look for examples so that this Turn around is real and valid for us.

It is advisable to do some sessions or attend an event with a certified facilitator of “The Work of Byron Katie” to learn to apply the technique although the advantage of doing ‘The Work’ is that you can then apply it on your own.


Mitchell, B.K & Mitchell, S (2002) Loving What is: 4 Questions that can change your life. Urano

Originally published in Mujer Hoy.

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