Why do we remember things?
In order to learn from previous mistakes, and correct present and future behavior.
Why can we project the future?
So we can foresee unfavorable outcomes, and avoid them.
The present is the only thing we can act upon. Both the past and the future exist only as images within our minds. From these images, we create our conception of the present.
Memories and predictions are the present moment’s context.
We have limited control over what we choose to remember. The unconscious mind filters perceptions for us and files them away. But in spite of that automatic process, we have near complete control over our attitude towards those memories.
Was that person cruel to us because of our inherently flawed personality, or because they themselves are inherently flawed, and are struggling to conduct themselves in the world?
Did our parent’s treatment of us cause permanent, irreconcilable damage, or nurture an indomitable resilliance?
Those choices, in how we conceive of past events, are left up to our conscious minds. By crafting those conceptions, we form the present moment’s context. This context determines our actions. Our actions determine our future.
And people say positive thinking is naive.
Just as depression stems from negative conceptions of the past, leading to impotence in the present, anxiety stems from negative conceptions of the future. This results in a rigid immobility, like that of a frightened prey animal.
But here again, we have control.
The world is not 10% as dangerous as it was when our biological systems evolved. We have a capacity for fear that far eclipses reasonable need. How can we overcome this obsolete circuitry?
By practicing positive visualizations of the future. Drown out the ugly projections. Look at them and dismiss them, again and again. Deny them the air they need to live. It may take months. It may take years. But thoughts, like animals, fight for prominence within your conscious mind. Support the positive conceptions. Do not nurture the negative with attention.
This is the essence of positive thinking; a vigilant tending to our mental gardens.
Do not hesitate to poison the poisonous.
Those flowers and fruit trees you wish to see grow must be tended to constantly. Water them with attention. Let them grow until they take over everything, even those patches of weeds you thought permanent and hopeless.
Do this every moment of every day of your life.
And perhaps in several years, you will wake up and find yourself in a Redwood forest, so strong and tall that the weeds are denied all light, all rain. These negative conceptions will perish without you even having noticed them.
That is the character of a healthy mind.
That is the power of positive thinking.