‘Not’ is one of my pet hates. There is lots of information on when NOT to use it which I am about to add to, I also hope to help you when to use it. This applies to the things you say to yourself as well as the things you say out loud to others.
So the Science bit:
You will hear lots of people state ‘You (your unconscious mind) cannot process the negative inversion of the not therefore you have to consciously process the information, rather than just reacting to it’ huh, what?
Let me explain with some examples.
When you hear something you construct your version of it and act on that.
‘Leave Chocolate alone’ What images, sensations have you got going on? Personally I have a picture of a wrapped bar sat on the table. Very little else, sensation and emotions are missing from my picture. I have a very low level of engagement with it. Do you have a desire for chocolate, probably yes, because the C word has been mentioned. However, you have the instruction to leave it alone so have probably disassociated yourself from chocolate already.
So, ‘Eat Chocolate’. What images, sensations have you got going on this time? Personally I have got a soft melting sensation in my mouth, I can almost taste it, my brain is relaxing waiting for the all the endorphins and loveliness to arrive.
Now, say ‘ Do Not eat chocolate’ – for you to do this you first have to create your earlier image of eating it, with all the sensations and longing and then scrub that out, and consciously delete it. Your mind can to this, it just needs a fraction of time, and while doing it, you have all the sensations which you then miss when you start to delete them.
If your first instruction creates a different positive image, you will hold that quicker and for longer and you know that you can leave chocolate alone.
Think of a summers day.
Some other examples that often get used.
‘Don’t think of a …‘ even before I finish it you probably have an image of a blue or pink elephant (whichever you have previously heard in this context). I have suggested you think of the elephant and you are now trying to think of something else. Have you replaced it with your summers day image? Hold that thought.
Onto the next example, A child runs over to you carrying a drink ‘Be careful with that cup, put it down over here’ positive instruction for a positive result.
Oh no someone beats you to it ‘Don’t DROP THAT’ you hear, what has the child just done in your picture?
Did you catch it in time, did they stumble but keep hold of it, or is there now a spilt drink and a crying child? Out of interest where is this all happening? Are they indoors or out? Why have you chosen that location? Did you hold the thought of the summers day?
Everyone can process the not, and the next time you use one think about it after, especially if your outcome was different to what you expected. Maybe you could have given a better clearer instruction.
As I said in my title, You will not stop using not, you will simply use it more appropriately.
Take from this what you will untie the nots in what you say and get the results you were looking for.
I would like to give a couple of references:
Remember the Ice – Bob Nicoll
How to be a Complete and Utter Failure in Life, Work, and Everything – Steve McDermott Book Audio