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The KEY Questions: How can I resist bad thoughts?

7 March 18

“Resistance is futile!”

It sounds like something out of a Bond film, or maybe the catch phrase of the latest Doctor Who villain. In our fiction the heroes are always putting up a valiant fight against the forces of evil. The odds are overwhelming but the good guys have right on their side, along with courage and an unshakeable determination to succeed in their cause.

All very well. There are many instances in life where these qualities are not only necessary but vital for survival, and fiction mirrors our need to be strong and protect our loved ones from danger. But what if the threat is not ‘out there’ in the big bad world but much, much closer to home?

What if the threat comes from our own thoughts?

Many times in the course of my work, as I’m trying to pass on my understanding of the principles to a client who is suffering, I’m faced with the following response, or a variation of it, usually said with a fair degree of frustration and even anger:

“The bad thoughts keep coming in. I try to resist them but I just can’t! What am I supposed to do?”

My response is always the same: we can’t and we shouldn’t resist our thoughts, no matter how negative they seem. Resistance, in this case, is worse than futile – it has inherent dangers. The ‘threat’ posed by our thinking is an illusion (it is itself nothing more than a thought) and to try to resist it simply compounds the problem, trapping us in a viscous circle of negativity. As our old friend the philosopher Carl Jung said: “What you resist persists.”

Human beings have thoughts. It’s what separates us from the animal kingdom. Those thoughts tend to go in one of two directions: to the past, where a whole set of personal beliefs – useful or otherwise – lie in wait to challenge us, or to an imagined future full of fanciful scenarios. And again, if we’re in a low mood those scenarios will look increasingly bleak and desperate. Jung’s insight was to see that as we turn away from the bad stuff, shutting it out in the mistaken belief that we are ‘wrong’ to be thinking it, we create the very conditions for the thought to grow even stronger within us.

I can give you an example from my own life, one that might be familiar to you if you’ve been reading these blogs. The seed of a thought was planted in me very many years ago. It was that I was lazy. Not true – it was actually a product of someone else’s well meaning but mistaken thought – but nevertheless it took root. I didn’t want this negative thing to define me so I fought against the thought, to try to disprove it. And of course my way of disproving it was to work very, very hard through decades of my early life and career. That hard work paid off in many ways but did it banish the negative thought? Did it make it go away for good?

No, of course not. Instead of seeing that thought for what it was: just a thought (and not even mine to begin with), I resisted it, as though it was real!

I have to admit it has taken me a while to emerge from under that particular thought cloud. Even as recently as a couple of years ago I had difficulty ‘allowing myself’ the luxury of a holiday free from thoughts about work. My new understanding of how the human mind works informs me that ‘down time’ is just as valuable – perhaps more valuable – for my life and my business than the daily routine of meetings and schedules, no matter how enjoyable.

What Carl Jung was pointing to was the value of a quiet mind, and that can only be achieved when we recognise thoughts for what they are: transient and above all harmless, without form. The illustration that accompanies this blog represents how many of us see the predicament we are in. Our fragile minds are caught in a ‘vice’ of thoughts that there is seemingly no escape from. ‘Resistance is futile’ because there is no stopping the relentless pressure, until we literally ‘crack’.

But suppose we look at the picture in a completely different way, one that is informed by the Three Principles understanding? The egg is Mind, which is shared by every living thing and cannot be broken. Mind can be said to be the only thing in the universe that actually persists. And the vice? The vice is made up of thought, as inconsequential as smoke. The threat it posed was always an illusion, ultimately as powerless as the bad guys in Doctor Who.

And where there is no threat, there is no need for resistance.




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  • Having attended David's course and then had some one to one sessions with him my approach to my life has changed dramatically and improved. David has a very gentle and empathic way about him, yet managed to challenge my habitual way of being and thinking. As a result of our time together I now practice his "way of being" and I truly find that I am getting far better results in all of the relationships that I encounter. My inner chatter is under control, most of the time, and I am learning to pause and push away harmful thinking . It's surprising how habitual thinking can do so much damage and how, once you really focus on what comes into your mind you start to realise that you can be bigger than your random thoughts. So David thank you for putting me on a better pathway. Looking forward to sharing another journey with the Auspicium family!
    Rowena Wild

  • The course I attended with David Key was marvellous, every moment being filled with joy and laughter. David has a unique talent to teach, unlocking the full potential of every person he encounters. His course opened up an infinite number of ways for me to get the life I want, right now, today, and in the future. It made me realise that thought is fluid and that I can mould it the way I want to suit my day. I would highly recommend this course to anyone in search of a new professional career or for those who simply want a happier life. Thank You!
    Lucia Pohrebnyak

  • It took me about 5 years of 'dithering' before committing, and in that time I attended several introductory days from various training providers. David's accessible style and the unforced flow of the day is what persuaded me to choose his company. David provides a training model that helps you become your best self - as a student, as a practitioner, as a person. By 'best', I mean more open, less fearful, more confident, less judgemental - whether you attend the course to make a change personally or professionally, to build on existing success, or with no idea where it might go, simply because you are interested (that was me!) you will be impressed at what you are able to achieve with David's expert guidance showing you how to use your curiosity as a pathway to growth. In the first week following the course, I dealt with several potentially difficult situations both at work and home, coming from a changed perspective - resulting in no conflict, calmer colleagues, less stressed family. And this without actively using any techniques; the biggest change has been inside my own headspace. I can't wait to do the next course. Now that I know, unequivocally, the benefits to be had, I wish I had come down off the fence years ago! Added bonus, a bunch of fabulous new friends. And a final thought about cost; some of you reading this will be struggling to justify spending a chunk of hard earned money "just" for yourself. Well, I will be using these tools every day for the rest of my life - pennies a day investment! I am SO worth it. And so are you!
    Sue Bee

  • I first met David at an evening business club a couple of years ago. During his presentation something “clicked” with me and I felt compelled to further my understanding of NLP. I attended the Auspicium free trial day. My earlier feelings were confirmed. This guy knows what he’s talking about and has a passion for helping people. I duly signed up for the NLP and Hypnotherapy practitioner course. What a week. All in the class left in such high spirits with a very different outlook on life. Following on I have attended the NLP and Hypnotherapy Master Practitioner course. Again excellent. There was something about the Hypnotherapy element of the course that I loved so on to the Hypnotherapy Trainers Training (another absolutely brilliant week). All the courses that I have attended have been very well organised, have a great team of trainers and support volunteers. The documentation is well put together and the exercises are all structured to push yourself to show you have a grasp of the given subject. I now have a fantastic group of new friends who I have a deep link with. We still meet up when we can to catch up on what we are all doing. As of March this year I have been participating in the Auspicium Freedom Project. This is a yearlong “conversation” about the 3 Principles – Mind, Thought and Consciousness. It took me a while to “get” it but now just by “doing nothing” I find myself doing more with better results and no stress. There are no models or techniques to learn. We all have the Principles inside us. We just need to be woken up to how to use them. It’s a great journey that will take the rest of my life. David is a superb trainer and fully deserves all the praise he receives.
    Phillip Warris

  • Before going on David’s Practitioner course, I thought I knew what I wanted, where I was headed and how I was going to get it. All I wanted an additional skill to add to my portfolio. I thought my life was in reasonably good order, nothing that needed fixing. I can sum up my experience of working with David in two words: life-changing. Instead of just learning a new skill, David encouraged us to apply his teaching, our learning, to ourselves. In a very safe environment, I gradually dropped the barriers I had painstakingly built up over a long time. This change happened very quickly and I continued growing as a person, studying 2 more courses with David and joining him on the Freedom project. Why David? He is disarmingly honest, genuine and engaging. He has a very broad knowledge of human behaviour and passes his knowledge on with grace. As a result of working with David, I have changed, and my life has changed. In myself I am very happy and contented person. My marriage is better and stronger. My business plans have taken a different route - one that is exciting and feels very right for me.