2. Misery Magnets

Some people believe we can silently think or feel anything we want without consequences. They assume that whatever is unspoken and unrevealed has no impact. Because they can imagine bizarre images and events that have no reality, they also pre- sume their silent fears or resentments will have no impact on anyone—including themselves.

Simplistic assumptions such as these impair our ability to understand the danger of negative thoughts and feelings, as well as the benefits of constructive attitudes. To understand the healthy or unhealthy impact of our ideas and emotions, we must recognize that every thought and emotion comes with a specific quality of energy. While these energies are invisible to most people, everyone is able to register their presence in the feeling nature.

The power of mental and emotional energies—especially the unspoken ones—is evident whenever we are exposed to people who are very anxious, angry, or depressed. Even without any significant interactions with them, we can begin to feel their fears, hostility, and gloom. We may not be conscious of this influence immediately, but our usual tranquility or cheerfulness slowly slips into agitation, irritation, or depression. These are signs that toxic mental and emotional energies of others are having an impact on our mood. If sustained, our thinking and behavior may also be affected.

These energies and their influence can, fortunately, also be positive and constructive. Being around cheerful and enthusiastic people can lift up our mood. Being around calm people can help to quiet down our tendency to worry. People of common sense often notice these shifts of mood. While most of these experiences are quite ordinary, they can have significant implications.

Mental and emotional energies can either wound or soothe, depress or energize, or hinder or help us. Minor changes of mood come and go quickly—and are therefore of little consequence. Even when we interact with hostile or pessimistic people, we can usually recover just by getting away from them. However, when we generate and sustain strong moods of anger, fear, sadness, and guilt, we may well cause significant damage to our well-being.

Psychic self-destruction occurs as we stir up negative forces such as fear, anger, sadness, contempt, guilt, and remorse—as well as other unhealthy qualities. It does not matter how well justified we believe our anger, anxiety, or disappointment is. The type of insult, loss, or suffering that triggers our dark mood is irrelevant. Strong, short bursts or prolonged, dark moods can cause great harm to basic beliefs and ex- pectations. The energies of the thoughts and feelings we create can accumulate and sustain a permanent mood of depression or anxiety. As a result, our outlook and behavior will automatically convert to this lower mood.

Many of us may find this concept of the energies of emotions and ideas strange and unfamiliar, but this does not make the subject irrelevant. What we don’t know can cause us terrible harm.

In many ways, mental and emotional energies are similar to the energies of electricity and heat. All of these forces have certain properties and are governed by specific laws. Electricity and heat operate under the laws of physics. Mental and emotional energies operate under natural law. If we are to understand how to prevent and reverse psychic self-destruction, we will need to fully comprehend the many properties of these energies and the laws that direct them.

The most important thing we must know about emotions is that they have a highly magnetic nature.

As a result, our anger attracts anger from others. Our anxiety draws to us more fear. Our sadness and guilt bring more of the same to us. And worse, we will also attract the very things we fear, the situations we resent, and the behaviors we dislike. In other words, a little bit of anxiety can feed on itself and precipitate major insecurities. Brooding on what disappoints us can generate an intense experience of depression and loss of confidence. Simmering resentments will build intense feelings of outrage and injustice.

Fear, anger, annoyance, guilt, and sadness are misery magnets. They attract harmful forces to us, from within and without. When depressed people dwell on their problems, the magnetic power of their sadness creates a growing mood of despair and hopelessness. When chronically angry people perpetuate their focus on irritating experiences, they draw more annoyance to them. In the same way, grieving people prolong their misery by dwelling in sadness and despair.

The magnetic power of thoughts and feelings, fortunately, has its constructive side. Cheerfulness attracts more joy. Affection and kindness attract more of the same. Contentment and fulfillment also attract more of these qualities plus the situations we associate with them. This is why cheerful people stay so confident most of the time and are able to remain upbeat even in difficult circumstances.

Unfortunately, the power of fear, anger, sadness, and guilt seems to be several times greater than the power of confidence, affection, or cheerfulness. It takes many experiences of joy to overcome a mood of depression. It takes many successes to neutralize one failure, and many compliments to heal one nasty insult. Our worst problems are usually centered about the dark moods that drag down our outlook, intentions, and expectations.

Misery magnets attract and sustain these dark moods in us. They have the effect of dark clouds that blot out the Light of our Soul and Spirit. They linger in us to prevent recovery from any depression or anxiety. They interfere with our joy and success in life and sabotage our spiritual possibilities. They diminish our creativity and productivity and delay healing.

All of us must face situations that are disappointing or annoying. Occasionally we must confront the rudeness, dishonesty, and manipulations of others. If we brood excessively on them, we may inflate them into full-fledged tragedies and life-changing sorrow. Although we cannot avoid these situations, we can learn to minimize the tremendous harm that is inflicted by ruminating on what is wrong or missing in our life. Our fear and resentments magnetically summon more fear and anger. Our anguish and guilt about what we should have done will attract more despair and discomfort. Our grief over what might have been will set the stage for us to endure more misery.

As we sustain depression, fear, and resentment about any aspect of life, we cause immense harm to our confidence, vitality, creativity, hope, and strength. It is vital to understand the magnetic properties of thoughts and feelings and the laws that govern them, so we can protect our mental health and promote the best in ourselves.

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