November , 2020
Thought replacement- a powerful strategy to face problems
12:06 pm

Dr. Sarfaraz J. Baig

Business rules say - inputs dictate the outputs! Similarly, thoughts dictate our actions and probably destiny, is the belief amongst the thinkers.But we don’t have control over our thoughts, right?Wrong! Possibly we can.We can observe our thoughts if we practice awareness and identify the potentially harmful and presumptuous ideas and thoughts. And then, if we can get to the next step, life starts becoming increasingly joyous and productive. And that step is thought replacement!The premise and strategy is - we can constantly replace negative with positive thoughts!Let’s talk with examples-If we wake up with the thought – “Oh dear, I have that meeting coming up and I am not prepared.” Replace it with – “That meeting is an opportunity for me to excel. Let me get up and get prepared.”Or, if there is an employee who doesn’t measure up to your expectations and the thought is – “Why is he so slow!” Identify this negative and non-productive thought and think – “How can I lead with an example and what are the strengths of this guy that I can utilise.” And you start feeling better immediately and the action will be more beneficial too.If a friend is arguing about something and you think they don’t know anything about that subject and you know, replace that thought by telling yourself that it’s understandable that the other person does not know since it’s not his expertise and most of us like to have opinions in areas we do not have expertise in. It’s ok. This thought will replace the words that would have come out next - something like “You are talking nonsense. You have no idea what you are talking about.” Rather you may find yourself saying, “I understand why you have that position of thinking. I don’t agree entirely but I understand you.”. You may also choose to be silent.Imagine your partner rebuking you for neglecting family time. Instead of a natural “defensive aggression”, which will inevitably lead to some broken dishes, what if that thought is replaced by a question and self-appraisal - is my partner right? If yes, can I make some changes? If no, and you felt this is simply a rant, can the rebuttal be replaced by a kinder response -  “Ok, let’s plan a short vacation. Let’s all discuss the potential destinations.”Thought replacement is a powerful tool. It can bring immense changes in one’s life. As a surgeon, I have been a witness to this innumerable times. Those who are afraid of the disease, and are unable to face it frequently go into a denial or embark on health shopping to hear what they want from a doctor rather than facing their fear and reality. Much to their disadvantage. They are unable to identify their negative thoughts and replace it with productive thoughts of “faith” and “facing the reality”.I have seen patients who are blessed with positive thinking and they continue to amaze and inspire me. One recent incident stands out. There was this young man brought by an elderly father to our centre with a rather difficult and rare problem. He had a large liver lesion caused by a parasite that had destroyed 80% of his organ. Consequently, he was deeply jaundiced as a part of liver failure. To add to his misery, he turned out to be coronavirus positive. The patient and family were counselled about the grave prognosis to which the father responded - “You do what you can. We will do what we can. We have faith that whatever happens, will be the best for my son!” I was simply blown away by the thought and expression of this experienced man. He was replacing his thoughts of fear and stress with faith and belief.The young man went home safely after a long and complex surgery and taxing days of peri operative care. The outcome could have been different but what we need to pay attention to – in this case - is the response.What are we learning from these examples in life?Everyone is facing problems in life. How we respond to it defines us. But at the heart of all these responses, is a mindset that revolves around thought replacement. Replacing our negative with positive thoughts! This makes us tranquil and helps us make better decisions.The enlightened have been saying it in many ways for too long now to ignore it - Change your thoughts! And change your destiny!Even if we can’t change our destiny, it has the potential to make our daily lives immensely stress free.  The author is the Director, Digestive Surgery Clinic, Belle Vue, Kolkata, India 

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