Our Attention to Negative and Fearful Thoughts


I sometimes wonder if Yogananda and other Masters also experienced negative or fearful thoughts and how they handled them. I am asking because every time a negative thought enters my mind I immediately get attached and judge myself in a sense of obsessing "if I am a bad person". I also seem to suffer from the unconscious belief that if I would be able to let even the most negative thought pass through me without any emotional reaction this must then in return mean that I am a cold person.

—Carina, Europe


Dear Carina,

Negative thoughts are something we all have to deal with to greater or lesser degrees.

I heard a wonderful story. A grandfather told his grandson, “You have 2 wolves inside of you: a good wolf and a bad wolf.” The grandson’s eyes opened wide in alarm, and he asked, “Which one will win?!” The grandfather replied, “The one you feed.”

Think of your thoughts as those wolves. I’m sure many good thoughts or neutral thoughts also pass through your brain. We don’t want to “feed” our negative thoughts by giving them LOTS of energy.

Instead, if the negative thought comes, redirect your mind toward either a joyful subject, a loving thought, a pray for another person. Let the negative thought drop away unnoticed.

Try this as an experiment for the coming week and see if you notice a difference in yourself.

As Yogananda has said, “An unwelcomed guest will leave.” But if you entertain those negative thoughts by obsessing on them, worrying how you could possibly think something so hateful or bad, that is very welcoming. It’s like creating a welcoming parade for each petty thought.

You may be thinking: But I’m not welcoming them, I’m hating them – it doesn’t matter – you are still giving them LOTS of energy.

They’ve discovered that growing children like to receive attention from adults. If the only way they can get attention is by misbehaving, they prefer negative attention to no attention at all.

It is the same with our thoughts. Thinking, analyzing, getting upset about negative thoughts keeps you locked in thoughts about your little self (the ego). This is exactly what the ego loves – attention!

Did the Masters such as Yogananda have negative thoughts? The Masters have gone through everything that you’re going through now. They’ve had negative experiences. In the course of their many lifetimes, they have learned how to handle all experiences in such a way as to find inner freedom. By the time they are avatars, they have become free of everything but the consciousness of God.

But every saint has had to go through exactly the challenge you are currently facing. Encourage yourself with the thought that if those great ones became free, you can also!

Blessings and joy to you,