Shifting to Peace and Joy (Part 19): Limiting Negativity

 By Nancy Rynes, author of Awakenings from the Light

Article copyright Nancy Rynes

Sometimes a book drops into your life exactly when you most need it.  

Shortly after my NDE, I was gifted a book by Edwene Gaines (The Four Spiritual Laws of Prosperity) that was exactly the thing I needed to help me move past the negative thoughts and feelings that had previously cast a dark pall over my world. 

Edwene wrote about “negativity fasting,” a plan for eliminating negativity from your life. For me, this was a powerful tool in learning how to quell the negative thoughts and live more from a positive state of mind. But her method was all-in, and quite challenging for people new to monitoring their thoughts all day long, so I’ve adapted and changed Edwene’s method a little by teaching you how to go about a negativity fast a little at a time. You will start with eliminating negative input into your life. Eliminating negative input coming in from outside of you is an easy way to start bringing your awareness to how external energies and messages are making you feel. 

I also added #3 (see below), avoiding negative actions, where you eliminate doing anything that is negative or hurtful.

Remember the three little monkeys that many of us learned about as children: See No Evil, Hear No Evil, and Speak no Evil? Negativity fasting is kind of like that, but changed for the modern world. At its most basic you commit to: 

1) Eliminate negative input into your life (See No Evil/Hear No Evil)

2) Avoid saying negative things (Speak no Evil)

3) Avoid negative actions (Do no Evil)

4) Avoid thinking negative thoughts (Think no Evil)

To make it easier for you, I recommend working on them in the order I present above. Start with the easy stuff first for several weeks: eliminate negative input. Once you feel that you’re doing better on that front, then add #2, avoid saying negative things.

Negativity Fasting is a powerful tool to change the way you show up in your everyday life. But I’m not going to lie, at first it can seem challenging. 

How do you do it? 

1) Eliminate Negative Input: Eliminate the negative news. Stop watching and listening to the news on TV, radio, or internet video. Pretty radical, I know. Why? You don't have very much control over what goes into your awareness with these formats. You often passively receive whatever the news crew decides to send you, and most of what they send out is negative because negativity incites fear and fear grabs ratings. It’s all about emotionally grabbing your attention to get you to watch the entire newscast, for both ratings and the all-important advertising dollars. 

If you feel the need to keep tabs on the news, and I hope you do, read a newspaper either in print or online instead. Reading your news rather than watching or hearing it gives you much more control over what comes into your mind. Reading news allows you to skim the headlines so that you can pick and choose where you spend your precious attention, and what energy you allow to come into your mind.

But these days, eliminating broadcast news isn’t enough. You will need to eliminate negative social media too. And this might be the opportunity for you to try a complete social media fast at the same time as the negative news fast. 

Commit to this for at least 21 days.

If you slip up, and my guess is that you will because everyone does, the 21 days starts over from day 1. Yeah, that’s tough, but it really drives home the enormity of the negativity that you’re being fed on a daily basis.

Optional but helpful: replace the negative news and media with good news articles that appear on media channels like The Good News Network.

Extra credit: Avoid watching negative/violent/disturbing television and movies. Instead, for the next 3 weeks, replace those with positive, uplifting shows, music, or read inspirational books instead (this may be a good opportunity for you to get out of the TV/Movie habit entirely.

When you feel comfortable with eliminating negative input, then add on to that 21 days of avoidance of saying anything negative.

2) Avoid saying negative things. What does this really mean? During this next three week period, you will commit to changing the way you speak in addition to continuing to eliminate negative input from step #1. During this block of time, you will learn to refrain from saying anything negative. This includes speaking negativity about yourself, other people, your home, the weather, your job, your boss, the traffic, etc. Just don't verbalize any form of negativity. No more: complaining, griping, whining, criticizing, nit-picking, put-downs, gossip, verbal bullying, manipulation, lying, picking fights, demeaning words, verbal abuse, etc. 

With this part of the challenge, you stop yourself from putting negativity out there in the world. In so doing, it draws your attention to just how much (or how little) negativity you were spewing. I’ve known some people who struggle with this exercise within 10 minutes of starting it and others who, once their attention was drawn to the fact that they were speaking negatively, quickly learned to change their behavior. 

Who cares? Why bother? 

What you put out, you get back. In other words, you reap what you sow. 

Would you rather breed discord around you, or love, peace, and compassion? 

What do you replace the negative words with? 

Loving, compassionate, and kind words, and actions. If your first reaction in the past would have been to snap negatively at someone, pause. Gather your thoughts for a moment. What energy do you want to bring into this situation? 

Compliment rather than complain, spew inspiration rather than insults, say kind things rather than cross things. 

And if you can’t say anything nice, go for a walk! 

Just like in #1, when you slip up, the 21 days starts over at day 1.

3) Avoid negative actions. In this three week period, you commit to eliminating: violence of any kind, aggressive behavior, passive-aggressive behavior, retaliating, road-rage, undermining others, throwing things in an argument, physical abuse, slapping, shaking, physical intimidation and bullying, putting a fist through a wall, self-mutilation, etc. You can also extend this to include binge-shopping, binge drinking/drugs, binge-eating/overeating, throwing tantrums, pouting, or whatever your preferred method of demonstrating anger or frustration.

With this part of the challenge, you may realize that you have a negative behavior that is too big for you to handle on your own. For example, if you have a real issue with rage that comes out as a result of working on this part of the challenge, my suggestion is to seek the help of a licensed counselor or therapist to help you move past it. 

My hope is that none of you reading this have to concern yourself with eliminating negative actions.

4) Avoid thinking negative thoughts. Once you feel comfortable with steps 1 through 3, now it’s time to turn your attention to your thoughts. This is often the toughest part of the challenge, and it’s why I saved it for the last step. Learning to avoid speaking or acting negatively is one thing, but we can learn to be silent with our physical voice while our thoughts are screaming all manner of horrible things about ourselves or someone else. This part of the challenge helps you to clean up that inner negativity. 

Some examples of negative thoughts that are covered in this part of the challenge: criticizing someone in your mind ("Wow, she dresses like a dork“); criticizing yourself ("Ugh, I'm so STUPID"); thinking violent thoughts ("If I could only punch something, I'd feel better”); complaining internally (“My gosh, the weather is absolutely miserable today” or “This job sucks”).

The problem with letting these types of thoughts float around inside your head unchecked is you begin to believe them.  Once you believe them, you will often unintentionally make them happen and undermine yourself. 

If the negative thought is about someone else, that thought will often seep in to how you perceive and treat her or him. If you think certain people are inferior to you, no matter what position they hold in life, you are more likely to treat that person poorly.

Be brave and start to challenge your own thoughts. Take the perspective of an outsider and ask yourself if that thought is really true. Once you challenge that thought, get in the habit of replacing it with something neutral or more positive. 

Let’s try this with the statements above:

“Wow, she dresses like a dork” -> “She doesn’t dress in the latest fashion” ->“She is definitely a unique individual, and it shows in the way she dresses!” (said with a genuine smile)

“Ugh, I’m so STUPID” -> “I guess I need to learn how to do that” -> “I may not know how to do XYZ, but I’m definitely good at ABC”

“My gosh, the weather is absolutely miserable today” -> “I am feeling the cold today” -> “I’m so grateful that I have a warm house”

“This job sucks” -> “My job doesn’t feel fulfilling anymore” -> “I feel grateful that I have a job and will continue to do my best, but next week I will start to look for my dream job”

Again, if you slip up, this is not a time to get all down on yourself. Everyone slips, but the 21 days starts over again from day 1.

Edwene had some suggestions about how to cope with the challenge of negativity fasting:

  • First, don't "bury" conflict. If you have a legitimate issue with someone that needs a resolution (such as with a family member), don't lash out. Take a moment or two to come up with a calmer, more productive way to handle things, then address the situation.
  • If you need to, and it's safe to do so, walk away from a tense situation.
  • Instead of being critical of someone in your mind, send them a genuine prayer or blessing  ("Bless her," or "God, take good care of him").
  • Instead of using negative words against yourself, take a deep breath and find something within yourself to praise.
  • Find good things in other people, and praise them either out loud or in your mind and heart. 
  • Notice, and be grateful for, the small stuff: flowers in the park, the blue sky, or the food on your table at dinner.
  • What do you do if you slip up? It's simple: you have to relax, let it go, learn from it, and keep going.

If you are feeling ambitious, you can try all four challenges simultaneously.

Once you finish a clear, full three weeks, evaluate whether you want to continue, and how much. Do this slowly. For example, you may decide that you can incorporate social media again on a limited basis, or a little bit of network news. Or you may realize that most action-adventure movies are OK on a limited basis, but horror movies make you feel stressed out.

How do you evaluate whether you want to continue with the negativity fasting? Well, here’s what I did. I made a strong effort to finish a  “clear” 3 weeks. Then I decided to watch the evening news just to gauge my reaction to it. I turned on the news and paid attention to how I felt as I watched it. Was I more depressed, more anxious, fearful, angrier, or more stressed after watching? My answer was YES! Watching the news on TV make me feel terrible.

The problem with TV news, especially for people who are empathic, is that we see all of these disasters and people hurting, and we are seemingly powerless to make a difference. It wrenches our hearts, which is what the news producers want. They want you emotionally affected. When you’re emotionally involved, even if it’s negative, you’re hooked. You’re watching. That’s ratings, which equates to advertising money for them. 

If something makes me feel stressed, fearful, overly sad, or angry, I don’t watch it. I don’t read it. I don’t need to bring that energy into my life. 

Once you start paying attention to the negativity that's coming in to your life, what you’re saying, what you’re doing, and what you’re thinking, that awareness allows you the power to change it. And once you make the effort to begin making small changes at reducing negativity, you may be astonished at what you notice: more peace, connection, and even joy. Remember, the path to peace and joy starts with awareness. Once you bring awareness to your thoughts, words, and actions, then and only then can you challenge them and effect change.

couple having a great conversation

The real goal of negativity fasting isn’t to give you something to beat yourself up about. It’s to bring your awareness and consciousness to the negativity coming in to you from outside, as well as any negativity you create internally. Once you become aware of what’s coming in and what you’re creating, you have the power to change it. 

Negativity is like a tumor growing in your belly. If you’re not aware of it, negativity, like that tumor, can quietly grow until it impinges on the healthy parts of you. But bringing your awareness to that negativity and then taking steps to remove if from your life is like going in to surgery to remove that tumor. Now you have the opportunity to heal.

But always remain conscious and aware. Negativity fasting isn’t a once and done thing. In order for its effects to be lifelong you will have to make a practice of at least monitoring your thoughts and speech regularly. Trust me, this gets easier over time. It’s almost as simple as riding a bicycle. Once you learn the value of monitoring your words, it becomes easier to remain aware of them and take action at the first sign of slipping back into old patterns.

As always, take care and many blessings to you,


Disclaimer: If you have been diagnosed with a mental or physical health condition, or suspect you might have one, please check with your qualified, professional provider. You deserve specific treatment for your condition. Nancy Rynes is not a medical or psychological professional. In this series of articles, Nancy is sharing with you what her experiences have been and what has worked for her. If you choose to use any of this information in your life, which is your right, Nancy Rynes is not responsible.

Stuff You Might Have Missed
Archive: Past Newsletter Issues

TODAY Show: Nancy's Interview on NBC TV's TODAY

          Messages of Hope with Suzanne Giesemann: Exploring NDEs with Nancy Rynes

Article: Seven Lessons That Dying Taught Me About Truly Living (Aspire Magazine)

Article: Lives Changed by NDEs (Boulder Daily Camera)

Article: Awakening to Life(Pages 6-10, Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology, Summer 2016)

Article: The Meaning of Life (Excellence Reporter)

Free webinar series:

Simply Peace Part 1

Simply Peace Part 2

If you are unable to view the webinar on YouTube, the videos are also available on my website   

Please Join Me On Social Media

Facebook | Pinterest | YouTube | LinkedIn