Thought Surgery: 4 Words and 30 Seconds to a Better Life (If Only) Mind Warriors!

7 replies
I know many times many of you come here to this mind warrior forum

to find some tips for helping with your mindset.

Today I read a classic and was inspired by an encounter
the author had before he discovered the power of keeping
his thought life and emotions in check.

I had read this book many times before, but for some reason
today was the first time this particular story "hit home".

The story goes he visited this wise old man who often "counseled"
people who were overwhelmed and heavily burdened by life's woes
to get some direction or some relief.

He bared his soul and let it all out, really quite proud of himself
for at least accepting responsibility this time and not projecting blame
on anyone for his current set of adverse circumstances and the way he felt crushed by them and out of control.

The elder gentleman always had a way about him which let him know
he understood deeply what he was saying and perceived deep truths
where he could read people's lives like a living, breathing book detailing all they'd done.

He pulled out a tape player.

After all, this was before mp3's and even cd players were invented.

He instructed our author to listen to these 3 recordings

of 3 other patients who had come to him for help.

He told him to identify the common "2 words" each of
the troubled souls mentioned more than once which were at the
root of their troubles.

He said those two words are the saddest words in all of the English language.

Our younger friend, the author listened intently and sure enough,

he heard depressed stories from beaten down people as they rolled off
more pitiful accounts of misfortune than was almost bearable to hear.

More than 6 times, one of the speakers in the session that was recorded

had said, "If Only".


The wise one went on to explain that when we say, "If Only" when looking back with regret and remorse,

we're recollecting all that happened and replaying it wishing we had done something different.

"If only I had acted instead of waited."

"If only I had waited instead of foolishly and hastily acting."

"If only I had said the right words instead of the wrong ones."

"If only I had not said anything at all and kept my mouth closed for just a moment."

"If only I could have arrived there sooner, I could have avoided the accident."

"If only I could have stopped that person from making that huge mistake which ruined their life forever."

"If only, I could have done something differently, my loved one would still be with me today."

"If only, if only, if only, if only, if only"....

Do you see what is happening here?

Do you see how disempowering these emotions created by these 2 words can be?

They have stripped us of all control and now we look backwards as victims at scenes playing over and over again with no hope of altering the outcomes because they are forever now part of history in the past.

But, there's a solution!

What is the solution?

It only takes a different set of words to *replace* those "if only" words.

What are they?

Well, they are only 2 words too!

You see, instead of looking backwards at what has been and being defeated by the lack of power to change those circumstances,

We can empower ourselves by transforming how we are thinking by changing where we are looking!


If the reason we were feeling defeated and bound to the past, trapped without hope is because we are looking backwards,

then the solution...

is... to....

Look forward!

How can we do this?

Try this.

Instead of looking backward and saying, "If only"...


Look forward and say these two words:

"Next time!"

Ah ha!!

Like a lightning bolt!

You are now empowered to look at the future filled with hope
at the possibility you can do something about it.

Now, let's go back through all those thoughts that are keeping you bound
and saying, "If only"

and let's replace the "if only"

with Next Time!

Let hope and faith arise within your innermost being and look toward the future knowing you are empowered to face it with courage!

What if just a year from this moment, we can look back and instead of seeing memories tagged with the words "If Only", we freed ourselves of their hold in the here and now and looked back and saw we had made a change for the better and said, "Next Time" during those times instead?

How different they would sound if played back on an audio player!

Yes, it's only a difference between a set of 2 words and replacing them with 2 more words, so just 4 words.

And, in fact, you can do it in only 2 seconds if you really wanted, but certainly in half a minute's time.

The key is to continue to do it any time you sense the wrong kind of thoughts trying to creep in and vie for control of your mind which belongs to you as steward and guardian.

You have the authority and even the responsibility to keep those inferior, defeating thoughts out of your mind and to keep your mind filled with fresh, possibility-thinking, faith-filled thoughts of hope with a good future.

And if you've never done it before or don't think it could work for you for some reason, that's okay!

You're not alone. Everyone is faced with the same kinds of battles although we may encounter them in different measures in different seasons of our lives.

But there is no temptation under the sun except that which is common to all mankind, every human being.

The good side of that coin though is we can all choose to look at the present now and the future saying, "Next Time!"

Yes, even you!

So, I hope what was a blessing to me today proves to be yours too.

And until next time,

Next Time!

Doug Barger
#life #mindset #seconds #thought #thought_surgery
  • Profile picture of the author Dan Bainbridge
    Nice post Doug - I think too many people think like this, it is basic negative thinking and is very self defeating and only leads to more. There is success in every failure - even if it is only what you can learn from for next time

    In a similar way a lot of people have a way of thinking about why the can't do something or why it might not work, instead of trying to brainstorm how they could do it or how they could make it work.

    Always try and think in the "positive tense", a lot of the time this is easier said than done though

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  • Profile picture of the author mrmoonlight
    Nice post. Its amazing to think that two words spoken to yourself could have such an impact. Another thought is that the saddest "if onlys" happen when we let opportunities pass without taking action. We all have to remember "that right" now only happens once. Take action. Make mistakes. Learn. Then say "Next time I will do things differently"
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  • Profile picture of the author Dennis Gaskill
    Nice post, Doug. It's the kind of change of direction that could be invaluable to someone with the hopeless habit of living in the past.

    Just when you think you've got it all figured out, someone changes the rules.

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  • Profile picture of the author Super_Vendor
    I have never heard this before. I like it very much.
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  • Profile picture of the author Chris Faraday
    Subtly we all have regrets. often times "it's memory that which keeps us from being alive." Popular quote

    This is a powerful tool Doug to lock us back into the present.

    Also replace these killers - never - haven't yet, sorry - I apologize, no problem - absolutely, happy to help out.

    Words create worlds ; )


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  • Profile picture of the author scattermouse
    This idea is much more powerful than most people ever realise. Positive thinking isn't about ignoring bad things, it's about improving them! Doug, thanks for the reminder.
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  • Profile picture of the author digidoodles
    Funny thing... I say "if I had..." (same as if only)... but I generally always follow it up with "well, NEXT TIME I will..." or "I'll know not to" or "I'll know to.."

    So, yes, I look backward, so that I can press ahead.

    Regrets? I've had a few... (ok, far more than a few.. but.. NEXT TIME...


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