This article will teach you to do “The Switch.” It’s a technique I employ on a daily basis to refocus my mind towards active creativity. Doing “the switch” is a skill, so it requires practice to get good at it.
But once that happens we enter a positive, self-reinforcing feedback loop which unlocks stored energy reserves which were previously inaccessible to us.
So read on if you want to learn more about this.
How I Learned About “The Switch”
I first encountered the technique in a book I read in 2020. The book is called “The Magic Of Thinking Big” by David J. Schwartz. I read that book over the course of a month, during my morning reading period. On the days I read it I noticed that by the time I closed the book I felt relaxed and motivated to accomplish my goals. The experience offered me yet more proof of how the material we choose to consume deeply influences our moods and energies.
“The Magic Of Thinking Big” is a book about success. It contains stories which are meant to enhance our creative power and teach us the mental habits of greatness. The author based his writing on personal experiences he had throughout his career as a professor at Georgia State University and as a motivational coach. His mentoring empowered those who came to him to achieve their heart’s ambitions. “The Magic Of Thinking Big” is a synthesis of his experience.
One of the chapters of the book focuses on what I have come to call “The Switch.” It’s a deceptively simple technique to refocus our attention from disempowering thoughts towards empowering ones. I started doing immediately after I read about it and straight away noticed that it gave me more control over my creative power.
The technique is simple. I condense it as:
“Whenever you have are having negative thoughts about anything, switch your thoughts to a positive one.”
That’s all it is. Deceptively simple, right? But hidden within this simplicity is a road which leads to unfathomable positive change. And I’ll tell you why.
Why “The Switch” Works
In the book, Dr. Schwartz writes that human beings can and are often caught in trails of negative thoughts. Our internal monologue incessantly chatters away, judging everything it encounters; our bodies, intelligence, material conditions, relationships, in short, all of our life circumstances are open for judgment by that incessant inner critic we all carry within.
What Dr. Schwartz noticed was that by noticing we are having negative judgmental thoughts about something o someone and then switching to a positive thought we are able to get off the rails of our negativity and place ourselves instead on “rails of positivity.”
Notice that I wrote “a positive thought.” That’s deliberate. The beauty of “The Switch” is that you don’t have to stay alert, forcing yourself to have positive thoughts about everything all day. That would be exhausting. Forcing ourselves to do things is not the way to high achievement and lasting success. It leads to burnout. And I’m all about doing the least amount of work for maximum gains. That’s being “productively lazy.”
Switch One For Another
What The Switch calls for is just switching one negative thought for one positive thought. Just switching one thought is enough.
If a person is used to focusing on the negativity in their life, and most of us do this to some extent, (the only ones who don’t, I believe, are monks living in the Himalayas who have spent their entire lives training their minds. But that’s not a viable option for most of us.), replacing one negative thought in an endless stream of negative thoughts, will not do much.
But thoughts compound over time. And that single, positive thought standing out in a trail of negative ones will eventually influence the thoughts around it, passing on its “positive” quality to them. As a person continues practicing The Switch over days and weeks and months, the simple mental act of switching a negative thought to a positive one will have an outsized effect on that person’s life circumstances.
It’s like the story told in self-improvement circles about how an airplane can leave Los Angeles and arrive at either London or Dubai with tiny course corrections performed throughout the flight. Switching thoughts are our tiny course corrections.
How I Began Putting “The Switch” Into Practice
In “The Magic Of Thinking Big”, Dr. Schwartz gives the example of how we can often focus on the negative qualities in a person we dislike. No person is inherently “likeable” or “unlikable”, people are themselves, it’s we who make judgments about them and then turn them into people we like or dislike.
Because it is each of us who makes a person into someone we don’t like, it is also each of us who has the power to turn that person into someone we like. We can do that by practicing The Switch.
Dr. Schwartz writes that by inserting that one positive thought into the stream of negative judgment concerning a person we allow ourselves to start having positive thoughts about him/her. For example, in a previous stage of my life I regularly interacted with someone whom I considered to be very bossy.
I endlessly focused on the person’s perceived bossiness, I stewed in my judgment after every interaction I had with this person which soured my mood for hours on end. It has now been several years since I interacted with the person and looking back I can see that I was overwhelmingly focusing on what I thought to be negative about that person, while completely ignoring parts of that person which I found positive!
What Could I Have Done?
Instead of thinking about how bossy that person was, I could have thought instead about how that person had the abundant energy needed to get things moving. Yes, that person could be bossy sometimes, but she could also use her tremendous energy to organize events and push for institutional change. One of the consequences of having a lot of energy can be bossiness, but another is a “can-do” attitude which every team needs. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, in fact, every one of our strengths comes with its own inherent weakness. That’s why we have to find people who make up for our weaknesses with their strengths so we can be fully effective.
Once we see that positive glimmer it becomes much more likely that we will follow a train of positive thought rather than a negative one. And our relationship to whatever it is we are having thoughts about, be it a person or a situation, will change because of it! This is how our thoughts can become things, as I outline in this article.
Today I regularly practice The Switch. I did it today when I woke up at 5.30 in the morning in order to exercise. When I woke up I had thoughts about how great it would be to close my eyes and continue sleeping, warm in my bed. I thought about how awful it would be to get out of bed and start exercising. Then I switched one negative thought for a positive one (How great I will feel after exercising in the morning) and I got out of bed.
It really works!
The Most Essential Thing…
In order to become an adept practitioner of “The Switch” we need to develop one essential trait. This trait is so essential it actually determines the quality of our entire lives. Nothing and no one can replace this trait, it is up to each of us to choose to embody it. The more we embody this trait the more wonderful our lives become, the more peaceful, relaxed, prosperous and loving.
That trait is Presence (or awareness).
What is the first step in switching one thought from negative to positive? Take some time to ponder the answer. Really think about it.
Do you have an answer?
It’s becoming aware that you’re having a negative thought! Awareness is the first step in changing anything. If we’re not aware that there’s something we want/have to change then we will never take the action required to do it! So becoming aware is the first step in directing change.
The more present we are in life the more aware we are of what is going on inside of us. Something is always happening inside of us. In fact, our entire lives are inner lives, not outer ones. The universe lives within each of us. Contemplate this for a moment and you will see that it’s true.
When we are intensely present we are exquisitely aware of the thoughts (or lack thereof) which are going through our mind. With presence we can become aware of when a negative thought crops up and take mental action to switch it. Or not, it’s up to us if we want to change or not. Sometimes I choose to let the negative thoughts swirl around my head when I want to vent my negativity. But having that choice starts with Presence.
If you’re interested in learning more about Presence I recommend you read this article I wrote.
I hope reading this article has brought value to your life. Our thoughts are incredibly powerful, yet few of us ever learn about their creative power. My main purpose in creating this website is making this essential knowledge accessible to my readers.
Switching our thoughts costs no money. We need no special equipment, no certified trainers, no fancy technology nor anything else. All we need is the desire to take charge of our lives and the energy to take action. Once we do, change is bound to happen. I speak from experience. This change will probably not occur in a day or two, nor even a month or two. But after a year of doing this results are bound to become noticeable.
And once we start noticing results we become self-motivated achievers. And that’s the foundation for all success.
To our wealth and success.