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If we want more control over the quality of our thoughts we need to learn to be vigilant. Thoughts which occur at the same time have a tendency to befriend each other and before you know it, you can’t think one thought without the other instantly appearing as well. This is a helpful mechanism if you associate good things with a person or a place. That association is likely to grow stronger and stronger over time.
However the same is true if you permit more problematic thoughts to be associated with people, activities or places you like or love. This can turn out to be problematic because as the connection between let’s say your friend Daniel and the emotion of guilt get stronger it might actually overpower everything else you feel for Daniel, unless you do something about it. With time even just reading the name Daniel is likely to invoke feelings of guilt, even if ‘your Daniel’ is not even concerned.
Does this mean that negative thoughts need to be eliminated immediately? Negative emotions often alert us to the fact that something is going wrong. But if we do nothing about it, it’s very likely that at some stage, we won’t be able to have a good friendship with Daniel anymore. So when our negative emotions alert us to a problem, we should act on it but not let the guilt or other negative emotions always tag along, when we think about a person, place or activity we care about.