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Stop thinking yellow: Yellow is nothing to fear

The reason most people don’t have what they want in life is because they spend time thinking and talking about what they don’t want.

  • You get what you want by thinking about what you DO want.
  • You get what you want by talking about what you DO want.
  • You get what you want by acting upon what you DO want.

I thoroughly believe that this is the way the world becomes a better place, by more people thinking and acting on what they want.

Here’s the challenge: We are taught in our world to talk, think, and act in negatives.

“Don’t do that!” is probably one of the earliest phrases many of us hear once we really understand language.

So, let’s try an experiment.

Compare what happens in your mind with these two sentences…

“Please don’t pick your nose.”
“Please keep your hands in your lap.”

Here’s another one…

“Don’t be afraid,”
“Be strong.”

See the difference?

“Don’t think yellow”
“Think blue.”

Your mind has to do what you’ve told it to do.

In the case of not thinking yellow, you have basically told your mind to cancel yellow.

But in order to cancel something, you first have to have it.

The brain doesn’t hear the negative… or, more correctly stated, in order to understand the negative association (with the thing you’re talking about), the brain has to first understand the thing, and then make it go away.

But if your subconscious background doesn’t give you anything alternative to think about, then you have to first get a category, and then you can cancel the thing.

Here is the process of most people’s brains for “Don’t think yellow.”
Cancel and replace yellow.
What category is yellow?
Result: Yellow is color.
What colors replace yellow?

Here’s another process for “Don’t be afraid”
Cancel afraid.
What category is afraid?
Cancel fear.
What category is fear?
Fear is emotion.
What emotion replaces fear?
Result: Love/Courage/strength
More information needed to replace with best result.

And now the brain is really bogged down into thinking about it.

Eventually, “Don’t be afraid” becomes what it’s intended to be (a positive statement), but it takes a long time to get there.

Just to drive this point, picture me standing next to you.

I whisper to you, so quietly you can barely hear it, the following…




Now I whisper even quieter… “Stop thinking about yellow.”

You can do it, but first you have to think yellow, and then counteract it in some way.

Okay… so… What brought this on?

A friend of mine was insisting on telling me that I have nothing to fear in India (rather than telling me that I have so much to look forward to).

“You have nothing to fear.”

Then he went on to tell me about all the things that could happen to Carrie and me, including past experiences of tourists here in India, going into details about kidnappings, chloroform, etc.

He kept talking about terrible things, and then kept following it up with how I had nothing to fear.

After asking him to stop a few times, I eventually just left the conversation.

When we talked again, he was laughing at me.

He thought I ended the conversation because I was actually afraid.

Of course there is always an awareness in my mind that something could happen.

But that’s life. (And I’m saying that as more than an expression.)

Carrie and I are hyper-aware of the people and environment around us while we travel. We’re close to being in 30+ countries together now.

We make sure to go places and put ourselves into situations that (we perceive) are better for us, when we are in unfamiliar surroundings.

But if something is going to happen, it can happen anywhere at any time.

That’s life.

My leaving the conversation with this friend was about his focus in the conversation.

He was trying to help me get what I want while here in India. That was his intention. But his attempt at doing so was to tell me about all the things I don’t want.

“Don’t be afraid though…”
“You have nothing to fear though…”

“You have nothing to fear” is so much better stated as “There will be some challenges of course, but think of all the opportunity in front of you.”

The second sentence is a gift.

“You have nothing to fear” is something like confusion wrapped in an oddly shaped box.

You have to unwrap the sentence to discover that the message is actually one of hope and optimism.

That is insanity. And yet we do this all the time as humans.

Want peace in the world?
Then why are you holding an anti-war rally?
Mother Theresa said (and I’m paraphrasing) “Call me when you hold a peace rally. I’ll be there.”

Want all people to eat only plant-based products? (or) Want better treatment of animals?
Then why are you focused on advocating a day or diet of no meat?
You could instead be cooking and inviting people over for delicious vegetarian food. They would love you for it, especially if the food was good!
You may say, “Well, that’s only one day, one meal. And I’m only affecting a few people.”
The raindrop never takes credit for the flood, and yet a flood or waterfall is just one drop of water connecting with another and letting nature take it’s course.

Want your kids to eat their veggies?
Then why are you telling other people (especially with your kids within earshot) that your kids don’t like vegetables?

Want your friends/children/parents to drive safely?
Instead of saying “Don’t get any tickets or in any accidents,” you could say “Make sure to use your turn signals,” or “Please wear your seatbelt,” or “Please go slowly,” etc.

Want to make more money?
Then why are you focused on “the things you can’t afford”?
Instead of saying “We CAN’T afford it,” ask “How CAN we afford it?” Even better – “How can we create more for ourselves and others?”

I could go on, but I hope you’re getting my point.

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

Speak about what you want.
Think about what you want.
Act on what you want.

Let everyone else do something different, but you focus on getting what you want.

Do this by changing the way you look at and talk about things.

What happens in your brain as a result of this simple shift is POWERFUL.

Most people seem focused on putting FORCE behind the things they want to accomplish.

They live by the philosophy that might is right. But might can take many forms.

Attempting to get what you want, by talking about what you don’t want, may actually be possible, but it’s done through force.

Attempting to get what you want by stating what you want (and then working towards what you want) is done through power.

Might can be forceful, or might can be powerful.

There is a difference. Force can make short-term gains, but power always wins in the long run.

When you make a shift from force to power, you will find that putting power behind the things you want to accomplish will get you to those things much more quickly.

Speak in positives (Most people think of this as the opposites of what they “normally” say).

You’ll find it much easier to get what you want from and in your life.

Namaste and greetings from Delhi, India.

5 thoughts on “Stop thinking yellow: Yellow is nothing to fear

  1. Shannon

    This is one of the first things I have to teach parents of children with language disorders because I can empirically prove that their child does not understand negatives yet. Negatives come later than positives, so when the child hears “don’t touch that,” they are understanding that the parent said “touch that.” In general, it’s so much more powerful to speak in positive terms than negatives, although sometimes there is no way around it 🙂 I personally hope you have amazing experiences in India. It’s one of the places I’ve always wanted to go because of the incredible things I’ve heard about the culture and people. Have a wonderful time! (Don’t have a bad time, hahaha!)

    1. Jonathan

      We’re now on our third night in India, but really our first night experiencing anywhere, and we are loving it. We are in Udaipur… it’s beautiful here and the food is… it’s every bit as good as everyone says it is.


      It’s awesome that you’re teaching parents to speak in positives. Can you imagine (of course you can) what a difference that will make for the rest of our lives?

      We miss you and Peter. You should come to Europe this summer – if… y’know… you’re not busy doing anything else.


  2. Lisa

    The first time we ever heard “don’t think yellow” was in our very first lamaze class and it’s really fun to see it here in print!! Keep up the positives!!!

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