Keeping your distance is the closest thing we have to a universal remedy for erroneous and unhealthy thought and feeling. The common misunderstanding about this concept is that it’s some kind of gimmick or artificial device, when in fact it’s the primary way of living in positive reality.
Here’s the basic situation: A person’s having negative thoughts or feelings which she or he doesn’t like — unless of course he does like them. His wallowing in despair or self-pity may be a conscious, acceptable way of life for him. It may make him feel good in some perverse, masochistic way. He may be addicted to it. Stuck in it.
Let’s assume this is not you and return to the basic premise that you don’t like your negative thoughts and feelings and want to control or get rid of them. What do you do? The glib answer is to simply stop thinking such thoughts and feeling such feelings. Easy to say, but how do you do it?
The best way is to have the presence of mind to catch negativity at the very moment of its inception. That’s the point at which you can simply dismiss the thought at will. However, if you indulge or entertain the thought for more than a few seconds, it becomes more and more embedded into your subconscious mind and much more difficult to dismiss. You’ve made it a part of you, a part of your makeup.
Okay, so you’re not that adept yet at the level of presence of mind where you can stop thoughts on arrival. So, we’ll go to Plan B. In this more common scenario, you’re too often experiencing negative thoughts, feelings and below par performance. What do you do? The way you treat anything unwanted or unproductive now is to simply distance yourself from it. Detach from it. Witness it and back off from it at as close to the same time as you can. Again, before it can fester or germinate.
There’s a mythical rule of food hygiene in the hospitality industry — that if a cook or waitperson drops food on the floor and picks it up within five seconds, it can still be served to the customer because it has not been contaminated by bacteria in that length of time. The same with thought or feeling. Drop it before it contaminates you. — And do not allow guilt or accept blame for such random thought. They are part of the human DNA. They will come no matter what. All you have to do is not act on or be tempted by them. This is the definition of self-control.
The term “respectable” in this context means you’re respecting the distinction between thought and the controlling witness of thought. Respecting that thought and feeling are not who you really are, but are below who you really are. Your whole job is simply to maintain that correct relationship.